By the time I hit publish on this post, I will have begun the process of reworking the second draft of my manuscript.
I’ve been laying the foundations for the redraft over the past couple of weeks: getting my head into gear, taking on board the feedback I’ve been given, reading some awesome novels for inspiration and filling my little grey notebook with strategies for moving forward.
The crux of the problem with the novel as it stands is that there’s still too much there which makes it not quite believable. The main characters don’t quite ring true. The plot is not quite watertight. My prose does not always fully command the reader’s attention, giving them small but vital opportunities to notice the edifice of my craft.
I’ve written a lot about confidence in recent months, but I think again it is my belief in myself that I must examine here.
There are a couple of key ways in which I think the lack of this might be holding my novel back. Firstly, I think I’ve become a bit too tied to my own experience – like a safety raft if you will. There is a lot of me in this novel, the mistakes and insecurities of my younger self. That gave me the confidence I needed to write the early drafts – I knew there was a truth underpinning my words that made getting them onto the page seem worthwhile, important even. There is plenty in the plot that is entirely fictional, but I think I got a bit trapped in my depiction of the emotional worlds of my characters. And now I think it’s time to branch out – to have the confidence to paint with broader brushstrokes, to allow my imagination a bit more freedom, to trust that I can create new emotional truths not just replicate the ones I know.
Secondly, I want to be a bit more daring with the details of the plot. To take more risks as I bring the story to life, to take conceits and events to their logical conclusions without worrying if the results of that appear at first to be far-fetched.
Thirdly, I want to loosen up when it comes to my actual prose. To let myself open up the inner workings of my main character rather than worrying about stating the obvious and hoping people will guess what’s going on in her head from the clues I’ve left them. To immerse myself more fully in scenes rather than telling them from the outside. To trust that what’s happening is interesting and worthy of deeper exposition, rather than just trying to brush past things to get to the main events.
There’s a lot of ‘more’ here I realise, and I’ll need to be ruthless in my cutting to create the space for it. But again this is an issue of trust – to believe that I can communicate the mood I want to in fewer words, that spelling out every descriptive detail doesn’t necessarily make a world more believable.
I think, if I pull all this off, then I will have a manuscript which is much tighter, much more engaging, much harder for my readers to put down. And if I don’t – well, it’s just another redraft isn’t it? I will get there in the end.