A Writer's Journey

April 23, 2012

When You Have to Start Over

You want to slam your head against a wall. Repeatedly.

Happened to me recently. I was working away on “The Conference House” and had my opening all written. I was progressing through my first part and picked up a book to help my research (That Ever Loyal Island by Phillip Papas, highly recommended for anyone else interested in Loyalists during the Revolution or Staten Island history). And I that’s when I realized I had to change my opening.

I had started with a public reading of “The Declaration of Independence.” To show the Loyalist sentiments, I had created a riot scene. But as I was reading That Ever Loyal Island, it turned out that there never was a public reading of the Declaration. The British officers read it in a tavern and Staten Island was known to be silent when the Declaration was read in Manhattan. So I had to sit back and think about it. I could use artistic license and still keep the opening. But then I recalled something else I had read—there had been a ceremony where a large number of men signed up for the British army. And that seemed much better than a public reading.

So I painfully deleted over a thousand words. And I started typing up the new introduction. I must admit, I like it better than the original. I think it paints a better picture and allows me to introduce my protagonist better. It also stopped me from going into a cliché plot you see in novels set during war time. The son who wants to fight and the father is vehemently opposed (see: “The Patriot.” Okay, that’s a movie, but it’s still valid!). So now I’ve changed it slightly and I think better represents the theme of the story.

I’ve also introduced a possible love interest within this first chapter. While this won’t be a romance, it will have a love story. A comment or two regarding “The Wedding Game” on Book Country mentioned that they thought I introduced one of the love interests a bit too late. While I’m not sure I agree with them, I do know that the pacing was so great within the first chapters of that novel. So I hope I fixed the pacing issue, especially with the love interest.

So, while it was annoying at the time, I’m glad I decided to rewrite my opening.


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