This an Inside the Story and the Writer adventure. You will be able to comment on the story as it’s published and if you make a staggering point, you might change the story, because I will be reading the comments as I publish additional chapters. If that happens you will be thanked in the final published version of the book for your input.
The book is complete. I’m doing a final read through now and will be uploading the book in chapters starting April 18th, 2020. I’ll start with three chapters and will another every day, or so, until it’s complete.
I would very much like to hear constructive feedback. If you just want to Troll me, please find something better to do with your time. If you see something like improper word usage, or a line that doesn’t make sense, please let me know. This last rewrite was so extensive that I would be surprised if I didn’t have a few glitches from the universal change it underwent. If you have criticism, lay it on me.
I have been working on this novel for more years than I care to think about. So long that I had to change the time frame of the book. At one point, I had it published it on Amazon, under a different name and got some pretty high praise for it, from other writers.
But Then I asked a reporter, who had interviewed me about the Grand View Project, to read it. She called me and told me she couldn’t read the book, because of a violent scene in the beginning. It was not so much violence, but the nature of it. She felt it was exploitative and that I was using it for shock value.
I explained the need for the scene and she accepted my reasoning and reluctantly agreed to continue reading the book. Once she had finished, she gave me her review. It’s a good book. A good story, but the part, she’d already stated her issues with, was lazy. While it might have been relevant to the story, it was an easy out and cheapened the book. It made what could be literature into a pulp novel. I could do better. I thanked her for her honest review, ended the call, let out a deep sigh and hung my head.
Many years ago, when I first started writing, I would have listened to, but ignored her comments. It was a good book, just parts of it weren’t to her taste. But that was then. As I’ve matured as a writer and a person, I learned that maybe not every criticism needs to be acted on, but it should be considered. I figured this out, because through my life I’ve ignored good advice, to my own detriment, because I didn’t respect the person giving it.
This was advice from a person I respected. Which made me depressed, because she was right. The violence and abuse, was integral to the story, but I had chosen the easy expected path to include it, because I wanted to get on with the rest of the story that was burning up my brain. I knew I could do better.
It didn’t happen right away. With the mountain of projects I’m involved with, it’s hard to set aside time to work on something that was already done. In addition while I may have understood that it needed to be changed, I had no idea how to actually go about it. So years went by and it stayed as it was, until one night when I was thinking about something entirely unrelated to the novel.
I was toying with two characters that I wanted to create a story with and suddenly I realized that they were the characters that belonged in this story. It was like getting slapped on the forehead with a cricket bat, because they had been in my character sketch book for a while. I began madly scribbling, replacing my old characters story, with theirs. Not concerning myself how the changes were wrecking havoc with the rest of the characters.
The change was so complete that every other character involved with them, characters that were much more important and central to the story, had to transform as well. Because their change, changed everybody else they touched and therefore all the characters, those touched, had to change too. So it wasn’t just the beginning that changed, it was the whole book.
It boggled my mind to a point I didn’t know if I really had it in me go pull it off. I had already put so much work into this novel that thought of a complete rewrite was staggering. The shock wave added pivotal characters that I didn’t even know were coming and had to wait until I wrote them down to find out what happened to them.
This novel has changed and grown with every draft. But with this most recent, and I honestly hope final incarnation, was so drastic I had to change the name of the novel. It is so different I don’t feel comfortable with the old name anymore. While the outline is the same, it’s not the same book.
It’s like I handed my book to another writer and said “See what you can do with this.” I think the old name was part of my problem, in finding this story. It was descriptive of the mechanics of the story and the story isn’t in the outline, it’s in the characters and their lives.
This isn’t the first time this book has transformed drastically either. It has changed so much that one of the most important characters, wasn’t even in the first ten drafts of the book. And she totally took me by surprise when she showed up. But this is the way, this story, has been from the beginning. In my first draft I was three quarters of the way through the book when my narrator died unexpectedly.
The memory of sitting there, staring at the screen, realizing what had just happened, is forever burned in my mind. My mouth was literally hanging open. I thought ‘Well that’s going to be at least one rewrite.’ I decided there was no point in creating a new narrator until I saw how the story turned out and just kept writing as if he were writing from the grave. By my third draft someone suggested I should just get rid of the first person narrative and even though there were reasons I wanted the first person narrative, I had to agree, it just wasn’t working.
That’s the way writing is for me, I don’t fight the story. I make a lot of notes. Form it into an outline. Then get after it. But when I’m writing my world dissolves into the world I writing about. The characters do what they want to do and I write it down.
One of my favorite characters in this book, the one who didn’t even exist in the first ten drafts, was supposed to be a throw away character. I added her for a plot point movement. But she said “Sorry, not sorry. I’m here to stay. You don’t even know who I am and you’re going to be seeing a lot of me.” Then she told me who she was and I said “YAAAAAS.” I was stunned and she was right. She was a major character through the rest of the book.
To the subject of drafts. When I say drafts, I’m not talking about a simple rewrites, checking for basic writing errors and expanding details. I mean major changes in voice and structure. In this last draft I rewrote the first three chapters of the book so extensively, I added three additional chapters. Two of the most important characters in those chapters are recognizable by their first name only. They don’t even have the same last name and there is honestly an important reason I changed it.
In this most recent draft I have also extensively rewritten the antagonist’s character, making him much more complex, because his background changed and he couldn’t be the same person any more. Which meant both of his supporting antagonists had to change as well, because they couldn’t interact with Michael the same way. He was a different person. Those two are both basically unrecognizable to their original selves. One of them isn’t even the same race or age, and has a completely different personality. I’m talking 1160 degree spin.
I am looking for and wanting feedback. With all the rewrites I’ve been through, I still just found a first person description, left over from the original version. I have written 12 drafts since the narrative was in the first person. I was absolutely astonished that it had made it through all those rewrites without me seeing it. That is why I am completely open to hearing your comments, both story and editorial. As I said, it doesn’t mean I’m going to change the story, but I’ll certainly look at it.
Final warning this is a very mature audience, supernatural thriller, but I do promise that I have done nothing for shock value, the story took me where it wanted to go. I just wrote it down.
So I think that’s everything for now. Enjoy the book and let me know what you think.