Sunday, August 29, 2010

Novel News

Editor's note: The following blog has been edited because I realized that some parts of it may have hurt feelings, and that was never my intention.

As I noted in my last post, this is a free weekend for me. I decided to devote it to my novel -- the one that I recently finished and have been revising called The Summer of France.
Although I don't have a "synopsis" written yet, here's the gist of it:
Fia has lost her job when she receives a phone call from her Uncle Martin. He wants her, along with her husband and teenage twins, to come to France to run his bed and breakfast. When they arrive, she learns Uncle Martin has a secret from World War II that may be endangering her family and tearing them apart.
Earl, who is working this weekend, agreed to read the novel for me as I revised.
I worked on it Saturday night, reading each word aloud and making changes. Then I printed out the pages.
I drove to pick Earl up from work at 10 p.m. and debated whether I should have him read it. What was my purpose? That is what I needed to decide.
Reading aloud helps me find grammatical mistakes and stilted dialogue. I was pleased with those first 47 pages I'd revised and printed out.
"In a perfect world, I'd like for you to read it and tell me that it's good," I admitted as we drove home along the dark streets. We avoided the Arena District since a Clippers baseball game had just finished.
I needed to figure out my purpose in asking Earl, or anyone to read it?
Earl is an editor and I value his opinion. I finally told him that I like the way this opening goes, but if he sees gaps, missing pieces, he should tell me. I was asking an editor to be a big-picture guy. It could have gone either way.
As of this afternoon, he has read 80 pages and made some good observations. He pointed out that before Fia's family rushes off to France to take over the bed and breakfast, they need passports. I went back and added a trip to Niagara Falls, the Canadian side, the previous summer so they would have passports in hand.
Earl suggested that the end of one section lost its finality when I repeated key words. He also wanted me to take out some of the "French accent" in the dialogue because they were distracting and a little too farcical.
Those were all changes that I was happy to make and am sure will strengthen the book.
When he asked why I had written the main character in first person, I wasn't as willing to have that discussion. My last novel (that didn't sell) was written in third person. It puts a little more distance between the reader and the character, I think.
The main character for this novel, Fia, has a lot of energy. She can be a little frenetic. But she learns things about herself from the time she loses her job, moves to France, finds out about her uncle's secret, and... well, I won't tell you the end.
Maybe those are lessons I wanted to learn so I wrote the character first person. Maybe it just felt right.
Asking someone to read and critique my work is hard. It's as if my ego is printed out along with the pages.
I can tell myself everyday that I'm a good writer. I had the English professor at my college announce to my brother's class that I was one of the best writers to pass through the college. I had my writing published in a newspaper every day for years and every week for more years, but that doesn't take away that gnawing feeling that maybe I'm a fraud. Maybe I will never have a novel published.
I'm not ready to give up though.
This might be the one, so I'd better go back and finish.
I hope to get to page 150 tonight so Earl has a whole stack of revisions to read when he comes home from work.


Linda said...

You've had a lot more experience writing than I have and I've written four never to be published books. I do the same thing you do-read my writing outloud and I always catch so many mistakes. I have trouble writing fiction though. I've tried one about a divorced woman in France but it's not going anywhere.

Just Me said...

You are a Writer, published or not yet, friends who have read or have not yet. I know the voices in your head but from reading other writers or hearing them talk on the radio... "you guys all have those voices in your head, and probably always will".

I've only read the first two sections but I'm so impressed by things no one else probably thinks very much work has to go into the whole affair. And you have written how many ?

When I pick up a novel, I just read for selfish enjoyment. Not giving 2 cents of empathy or consideration to the work that went into the book. I just take for granted that the writer only had to string together enough hours at the word processor and there we have it.

But for me to know "The Author" is to be in complete awe of every word, thought, character and situation. I am also getting the secret pleasure of seeing some of YOU hidden in the story. I feel honored and like I'm on a treasure hunt. More to be revealed. People who don't know you, won't get to part take in this delight.

I know most readers stay up all night and plow through books they love. I seem to be just the opposite. Of course. I treasure every moment and ration the chapters out and allow myself to embrace where the characters are as proceed through my day or sleep.

I am thrilled that you opened yourself up to Earl's editing. Just the act of being open, will in itself allow you to be a better writer, and perhaps allow other parts of yourself to enter into your writing.

Enough rambling from me.... Hugs,

Lucia said...

Good luck your novel sounds great!
I could write a zillion stories but then everyone would be in trouble...all biograhpical! Maybe I could change the names!

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