When I had been more enthusiastic about re-writing my book and started this blog series, I’d had the rough plan that what I was going to do was follow the basic outline that I had followed with my Key to a Great Story series – who, what, where, when, why and how. Easy enough so I thought.
However, what instigated me to re-write the book in the first place was because of a comment from a beta reader, who didn’t like my characters and wasn’t sure about the details surrounding my story world.
Being incredibly close to my story, made it very hard to see what they were talking about – however I didn’t just ignore the comments, I did do something about it. I reflected on the plot and the complexity of the characters and the story world I have created, which I talked about in my previous posts.
However, at that time which was eight months or so ago, (how I’m not sure and it doesn’t feel like that long ago), I also did something else. I went beyond the simple breakdown of the entire book.
I did a detailed breakdown of the first chapter – the chapter I have always used when sending out my work to competitions, the one chapter that in truth I have barely changed since I first wrote it. I’ve spoken a lot about how I added things to ‘From the Ashes’ over the years to make the sequels work. One of the few things I have never changed though is the first few chapters.
And what did I find in my first chapter – a mess. A mess of details that I understand fully, but that a reader would never truly grasp until near the end of the book.
Because what I discovered in my first chapter is that I had followed the advice of jumping straight into the middle of a plot a little to literally – the book hits the ground running, and it has little to no context.
In the first chapter I introduce seven characters, two of them the main characters, two of whom die, two of whom disappear until halfway into the book when they come back again, and the last in the final paragraph of the chapter, who is a main supporting character.
I also refer to three different countries in the first chapter; some are mentioned as a whole, some are further broken down by province, some towns and cities are mentioned, and some of these countries are introduced by referring to the languages that are spoken in my multilingual world.
In terms of plot, there are references made to eight major plot lines that form as part of the meeting that takes place in the first chapter, plus an additional seven sub-plots that are either minor references to connections between characters you haven’t met yet, or are there to be developed in the long term and become main plots.
And then there are the references to the magical system integral to the entire story – references to the elements, references when Magi die, wand less magic, telekinetic magic, references to magic being used as a mental connection and also therefore the magic that blocks it; references to offensive and defensive magic; references to healing and references as to how magic can be used to travel.
Honestly, I cried.
Baring in mind this all happens in less than five thousand words, and instead of a first chapter, what I have instead is a kitchen sink. A dirty one, covered in layers of grease and mould, stacked with dishes, some clean, some used.
Doing this, is what made me grieve for my book. It is what has made me run an hide away from my writing. It is what has made me convince myself that I’m really actually quite deluded in thinking that I’m a decent-ish writer – at least good enough to be published.
All because of the first chapter, which is a fair reflection of the rest of the book as well.
I started Book (Re) Writing because I wanted to my myself accountable to the world and also to help others to not feel alone when they are writing their books.
Writing is hard work. Do not ever let anyone tell you otherwise. But please be assured, you are not alone.
So the point of this post you ask? Very much for me to make myself accountable to the world – I have admitted that I needed to re-write my book to you already. I even hinted as to why.
That’s not making myself properly accountable though – reading the first chapter of my book objectively for the first time broke me, and I’ve been running away from it ever since.
The point of this post, is for me to say to myself ‘Stop running away, fix your problems and become a writer.’