I was brimming over with enthusiasm a couple of weeks ago. Time to get back to Carrion and take it closer to completion. After spending a couple of months writing a surprise first draft of a completely different novel, I’d been excited at the prospect of reading through the latest draft of Carrion and working out what fine-tuning was required to get it ready for beta-readers…
It seems I was optimistic in thinking fine-tuning was all it needed.
There have always been issues with it. A lack of back-story for the bad guy, a long journey that meant the story dragged, some fairly complicated plotting, which seemed to need more explanation than it should have. All of these – and more – have left me frustrated at times over the years as I struggled to find the right balance. In many respects, I could easily turn my back on it. When I started writing the first draft, I was in my early forties. I’m now in my mid-fifties, so I have been tempted sometimes to let it go and move on.
And I have at times. I took a break from it a few years ago to write Ravens Gathering. I’ve taken other breaks from it to write drafts of other novels. Those are works in progress and will be returned to. But it’s Carrion’s turn again. And the reason I keep coming back to it is because I think the underlying story needs telling. I just haven’t found the right way so far.
Having read it through again over the last week or so, I can see that is still the case. There are parts that have barely altered since I first wrote it. Those are good, and I’m not only happy with them, but proud of the writing.
There are characters here that deserve to be brought to life. Some of them are fun, some intense, but they all reflect the reality of life because the world is made up of a range of different types of people.
And there are scenes that still make me feel like I’ve lived them, my heart pumping with excitement, or my sense of hope being crushed when tragedy strikes (ridiculous since I wrote it, but I still find myself hoping it won’t happen!).
There is more of it that’s right than there was before, though, so I do feel like I’m going in the right direction. And I’ve been able to view the narrative with a fairly detached eye this time. I’ve said that characters deserve to be brought to life, but there’s at least one I’ve concluded can’t be. He’s been with me for around thirteen years and, as I get ready to start the next draft, he’ll be no more. I’d be lying if I said it was like killing off one of my children, but it does feel similar to having a pet put down.
There is more that needs to change, too. The word count is far too high. Sometimes a long book is okay, but not when the first half drags. Time frames will have to change, and the pace needs to pick up. The good news is that I think I’ve found the way to do that without losing the essence of the story. Previous drafts have felt like they needed the big build up, but there’s a difference between a slow-burn and a dud.
So, after spending a couple of weeks reading and making notes, I think I’m ready to go again. It’ll need tweaks later, but I really feel like this time it’s going to come together…
Or am I just deluding myself?