Look Both Ways

Saunders

I finished the novel.  In its own quiet way, it was pretty exciting.  I wrote a few words over the 50,000 mark and had to stop and say out loud “I just wrote a novel”.  Then I did a little chair happy dance.  Then I submitted my word count to be validated and I got a nice badge to put on the blog home page (see it over there, lower left corner?).  I got a t-shirt too, so I’m sure I’ll be stopped on the street – or at least at the gym – and asked about my accomplishment.  Right.

Kidding aside, the biggest thing I learned from the whole experience was that there is no more saying I can’t do something.  There are things I won’t do, or choose not to do, but there is no can’t do.  I highly recommend that everyone tackle this particular challenge because, although it’s a prison of sorts for 30 days, it’s ultimately liberating.  Oh, but you say you can’t write?  That’s a can’t, and they’re no longer allowed.

Now, the book.  It has strong parts and weak parts; some of the writing is painfully awkward and some of it is not bad.  The middle section seems to meander a bit, and a few paragraphs had me yawning.  I wrote it so fast that I don’t have a great handle on all the details, so there are some inconsistencies that will need to be ironed out.  I like the characters and what happens to them, though, and it is essentially a believable story.

The larger issue is that the novel is lacking some grit and ugliness.  It’s too nice.  Everything turns out great in the end, through the hard work and perseverance of my intrepid characters.  Snore.  I need to add more conflict or a better villain to even the score and keep it from being a saccharine read.  I need the heavy hand of fate to tamp down the lightness that comes from strokes of luck and fairy godmothers in disguise.

The thing is, that’s a real challenge for me.  In playing god with the world I created, I wanted things to work out well for people.  That’s what I always want.  In fact, my novel has some things to say about how people make choices in their lives despite what fate has thrown at them – tiny and huge choices – and create the lives they have.  Many could argue that this is not real life, but, of course, that’s their perspective.  Which is my point.

So, the rewrite begins.  I will probably struggle more with adding struggle than I did in knocking out those initial words.  Not sure where the story will end up, but I’m open to the possibilities.  A little exploration into the dark side of human motivations is probably a good practice.  It will add depth and texture and may even make the shiny parts glow brighter.

Leah and Carolyn

Writing Exercise:  Do you get to the good – of character, of stories – by way of the ugly stuff first?  Or is it the other way around?  Can you add beauty without smirking and horror without flinching?

About Leah Carey

Author, As Simple As Breathing - https://www.amazon.com/author/lcarey

12 comments on “Look Both Ways

  1. Congratulations, Leah! What an enormous accomplishment. And what fun you’ll have making your revisions and adding drama. Better on the page than in real life! :)

  2. Congratulations on your novel, Leah! I loved your insights. I just finished the 1st draft of my second novel (not part of the 30 day show). When I developed the antagonist, I almost tossed the story because it was so difficult to write a truly evil character. My husband nudged me and said if I was a real writer, I should be willing to tackle the dark side of human nature. And, as writers, we know that no one is 100% good or evil. It was especially hard to find my bad guy’s good side. With all that said, I pushed through to the end and I learned that my hubby was right. I can write bad and, if I’m honest, it was kinda fun. Have fun balancing your novel.
    Happy writing. -Roberta

    • Thanks, Roberta, and congratulations on getting the first draft of novel number II done! Huge accomplishment. Your story helps. I’m sort of dreading adding evil to the eden I created, but you (and hubby) are exactly right. A real writer can and should do this. And there is no can’t anyway… I always love your comments. Thanks so much for reading and writing to us. Happy writing – Leah

  3. Congratulations Leah! I would imagine this feels a bit like crossing a marathon finish line. Which reminds me, I am far more likely to finish a novel before even starting a marathon… so I already feel closer to being published. I was hoping there would be a doohickey to click to see what thou hath wrought… How else are we to learn from your experience? OK, just send me the Amazon link when it’s available. xo

    P.S. If you need some darkness, conflict and evil, may I suggest a Republican character? A little lazy, perhaps, but guaranteed to do the trick. And if you want to really dial up the diabolical, reach for the jar marked “Cheney”. But just a pinch.

    • Thanks, Steve. It feels pretty great. I hear those marathoners say the same thing, but, like you, I “will not be choosing to” do that. Even your comments are brilliant, so I eagerly await the first of the many novels I know you have in you. Wouldn’t it be great if I could read one of yours for tips on how to integrate darkness, conflict, and evil…with humor? Just saying. In the meantime, I’ll gladly take your advice on villainous types readily at hand I could draw from 😉

  4. Congratulations, Leah!! What a super accomplishment! (We can actually picture you doing your “happy chair dance.”) Can’t wait to see you in eleven days to help celebrate.

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