Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The long, dark, mid-afternoon of the soul

Right, here's the thing. I have written a 5000 word, perfectly competant, setting-the-scene-and-presenting-the-first-dilemma first chapter of An Unconventional Act. But - 1800 words into Chapter Two and knowing exactly where I'm supposed to be going next - I have ground to a halt.


Because... well, all sorts of reasons but principally because there's no humour. And you wouldn't believe how long and how many mugs of tea it took me to work that out.

On the other hand, the other day I wrote a 500 word prologue that starts in the wrong place and would mean so much back-story being brought in it's not true... but it feels right.

So - what do I do?


Nicola Slade said...

You know what to do, Jan! Somebody once said to me: what is it that always creeps into your writing, no matter what you're writing about? Answer: um, it's the jokes.

If it's natural to you - and the jokes are as necessary to you as they are to me - then go with the humour. The rest will fall into place. And my fingers are crossed re Fortunate Wager. I want to read it.

Jan Jones said...

But (trying not to whine, here)... but it's like 5000 words...

And it's going to be really hard starting at the dinner party not trotting round Waitrose first.

(That wasn't my brilliant analogy, by the way. I stole it from Katie Fforde)

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

5000 right words or 5000 wrong words?
There are times when I have cut around that amount - although that is about the max. Sometimes you have to right the wrong words before the right ones turn up. I always find at 2nd draft stage that I cut getting on for 10,000. Not in one fell swoop in that case, but why didn't I see that I needed the cut first time around.
No writing is ever lost. It's always part of the learning curve. Give yourself a pat on the back that you've worked out what needs doing. That's your battle more than half won.
Onwards and Upwards my dear!!!!
Elizabeth :-)

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Urgggh wish I could spell too!

Kate Hardy said...

Those 5,000 were necessary for you, as the writer, to get to know your characters and the situation. So think of it as writing your shopping list before you went to Waitrose :o)

And, as Elizabeth said, you've worked out what needs doing - and that's the important bit.

Hang on in there. The book will be much stronger for the cuts. (And you can say exactly the same thing to me, next time I whine about wiping out a third of my book in revisions...)

Julie Cohen said...

That said, you may be able to cut in some of the not-right bits once you've found your voice and are trundling merrily along. The first chapter of my last one was truly a nightmare, and a lot of that was that it didn't have my voice in it, nothing that sparkled for me. In the end, I actually kept a lot of it, but had to seed it in amongst better writing.

I certainly feel your pain!!

liz fenwick said...


Jan Jones said...

Thanks, people, you're all lovely - and thanks especially for the hugs, Liz.

Elizabeth - they were okay words - some of them even made me shiver - but taken all together they were (*whispers*) dull.

Kate - absolutely. I now have 5000 words of prime back-story

Julie - yup, that's the bunny. No sparkle. No 'my voice'. However, I can definitely weave them in a bit at a time later.

So... I have taken the plunge and started again with the prologue - now imaginatively entitled Chapter One. The heroine shows up in the hero's theatre carrying a selection of her worldly goods in a valise and with no-one knowing anything about her or why she's there.

Except me.

Mwah hah hah

Susie Vereker said...

Sounds a good beginning to me!

Phillipa said...

I so know this feeling right now during a huge edit of first draft wip. I feel like rewriting the whole book. In fact, I moved onto the first chapters of the next one I got so fed up this afternoon!

Hugs Jan and i definitely don't know the answer but thanks for sharting the angst!

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Susie - now just got to see whether I can keep it up!

Oh dear, Phillipa, hugs back for you too. Sometimes you really wonder why we do it. Good luck. I'm sure it's a nice book really.

Caroline Kent said...

Sort out the right words for you.

Hope that helps

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Caroline (oo-er, that's the name of my next heroine if Mr Hale decides to risk letting her loose on the presses). I have - I think - found my voice again for this one and will cherry-pick what I need out of the defunct chapter as I work through the book.