|You wanna piece of me?|
While reading James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure, I've come across tons of helpful information, some of which has caused me to go back and re-examine what I've already written. One of the key points he makes (in what I've read thus far--Kindle says I'm only at 15%!) is the need for confrontation to be introduced at an early enough time in the novel so the reader can easily identify with him/her/it/them/whatever. So, I thought and thought and thought... Who is my main confrontation in this novel? Besides Hallie's parents wanting her to court an acceptable bachelor and get married, like, now... Who will keep her on edge? Present a problem while she and Adris are trying to find what they're searching for?
Oh, that's right! The police! The bobbies or Peelers, as our neighborly Britons call them. But here's the problem I ran into: I hadn't even introduced them yet, and I'm on chapter 10. Eeep! What to do? What to do? Initially, I panicked. Fretted. Bit off both my thumbnails. I'll have to rewrite the entire story! I thought. Foolishly, of course. Because all it took was this: I went back to the beginning, where Hallie, her 'rents, and the entire town are hangin' out at a local ball/soiree. I then slid in a paragraph where she notices the bobbies milling through the crush. Among them is a detective, who watches her closely. Almost as if he thinks she knows something deliciously criminal, and he's just waiting to ask her a ton of questions.
Hallie worries over this (on top of the whole bit of courtship and marriage, etc.) all the way into the third chapter, where Adris pops onto her bedroom balcony, unannounced. In the middle of the night. Most scandalous! One of the first things she says to him is, "No one knows you are here... Do they?" So, I added a little tidbit--a memory of the detective oddly staring at her at the ball--followed by the above dialogue. Voila! I've successfully inserted the confrontation--the boogeymen waiting in the shadows--that will follow Hallie and her companions throughout the novel.
|Be vewwy vewwy quiet...|
Obviously I could have gone on, made myself a Post-It to "insert confrontation toward beginning," because that's what a lot of people do, right? Wait 'til the novel's finished, then go back and do the inserting and fixing when it's time to edit. Problem is, I can't. Well. That may be pushing it. I don't like to. Why? Because I write a fairly clean first draft. I'm one of those people who can't move on unless I've picked the right word, constructed the sentence and/or paragraph exactly how it's meant to be. It's as if my brain won't allow me to just rush through, screw my word choices, sentence structure, etc, as long as I get the story down as soon as possible. Nuh uh. Not me. Won't work. Sure, it makes for a fewer word count every morning, but I'm happier with what comes out on the page.
However, I would like to hear from my fellow authors: How do YOU write? Do you get that first draft down, lickety-split, then go back and worry about rewrites and word choices and making sentences and paragraphs agree? Or do you obsess over all that stuff now, so you're only left with minor editing?
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,