Hmm, well, bolstered the support and encouragement of all of my lovely LJ friends, I’ve just finished the “ego-on-hold” re-read of my very first completed novel, and, as threatened, I thought I’d share.
ToD was completed in 2002. It was primarily an exercise in proving to myself that I could write at novel length (previously, I’d only written short stories). And man, I certainly chucked myself in at the deep end as it was written in first person for one vp character, and third person for the other (there was a reason for doing so), as well as including a number of short fairytales/myths/folktales. According to my PC, I haven’t opened the file since 2005.
I thought I’d throw down a few of the things I discovered about it:
- It’s over-wordy and too purple – I’ve definitely learned to be more frugal in my writing, not to mention reining in my tendency for purple prose!
- There’s too much internalisation on the part of the main viewpoint characters – I hadn’t yet learned more elegant ways of conveying what characters are thinking and feeling.
- While it’s there and has some interesting ideas and nice twiddy bits, the plot is a little thin. Definitely more a book of ideas. I still find I have to work at achieving the balance between ‘ideas’ and crafting an effective plot.
- Pacing. Hmmm .... what pacing?! I think the mechanics of pacing is one of the most important things we need to grasp as writers, and it’s certainly an aspect of my writing of which I’m mindful.
- Interestingly, my “voice” is present, even as far back as this first novel; I guess it was evolving over the course of my short story writing career.
- While some of the secondary characters are rather flat, the main characters are mostly interesting and engaging.
- Equally so the dialogue, though there isn’t enough of it, as I was inclined to use long tracts of exposition instead of dialogue and interaction.
And you know what? Most surprising of all is the fact that I found myself pondering reworking it, or elements of it, which is something I NEVEREVER anticipated. Although it was written as an adult novel, I can see possibilities for it as a Young Adult story. If I do decide to re-work it at some point, it will certainly need a major overhaul, and a complete re-imagining of one of the main vp characters, but the possibility is definitely there on a back-burner.
All in all, it’s been a mighty interesting exercise, and I guess I’ve discovered that I definitely HAVE made progress with my writing – PHEW! Hopefully it’s a sign of that progress that I understand why ToD doesn’t work in its current form, but can see ways in which its strengths could be made to work in a different form.
I wonder what the next re-read holds in store ...