I have now officially begun my Golden Egg Foundation Year and I think the most important lesson I've had so far is knowing that I can (and must) allow myself to slow down so I can develop my writing skills.
For the past few years, I've hurtled through ideas and drafts, always thinking of getting that agent and finding my way to publication. But I'm not quite ready. My book is not the best book it can be. But if I give myself time, I can develop the necessary skills to make it amazing.
For once, I'm not just bashing out another draft; I'm assessing my novel from a structural standpoint. Where does the first act tip into the second? Where does my main character make a decision she cannot back down from? How does that decision develop the action in the novel's second act? Is the middle compelling enough? When does it seem like all hope is lost and the story builds to its finale? Does the finale take place in the right location? Have I over-complicated the plot and lost track of some of the central plot threads?
On top of that, I'm taking a good look at my secondary characters and clearing out the deadweight. I'm also making sure the characters that have escaped a cull deserve their place in the story. How do their actions impact upon the main character? Are these secondary characters developed enough to deserve their place in the novel? If so, they stay. If not, I drop them.
I even redesigned the novel's haunted house. I added a couple of extensions, collapsed a few floors, moved the garden, built a couple of guest houses in the grounds... All because the plot is evolving and changing as I deal with the issues above. As some characters disappear and others become more important, the events of the story move and change organically. It's very exciting.
I am hereby giving myself the development time this book deserves. I haven't lost any of my excitement. I'm impatient, yes, but I know doing a critical evaluation of what I have and what I need is going to help me.
It's less plotting, more remodelling. All the new scenes I've written have definitely come to me as I've reworked what I already had. I know Ghost!Story is going to be something really, really special when I'm done.
See you next time!