(This post is part of a series on my process of writing, editing and publishing my first book, The Stonemason’s Secret. Though this is the first post published, it is not the first chronologically…because I didn’t think to do this earlier! I’ll add in posts giving what happened from the beginning, and continue with posts that follow my progress. Join my mailing list for the monthly update of what I’ve been writing to keep up-to-date.)
After the thrill of printing off the first draft, I took a couple of days off then began a read-through. The idea was to sit back and catch the big things – where the plot didn’t make sense, information that needed to be added in, things like that. But I kept seeing, and marking, misspelled words and grammatical errors. Yes, these will need to be fixed, but during revisions, they may be rewritten anyway.
Once the read-through was complete, I then went back to the beginning and began revising, correcting some areas and completely rewriting others. At the same time, I was reading and studying other books in the genre – “The DaVinci Code” and “Origin” by Dan Brown and “Stone of Fire” by J.F. Penn. Doing that showed me where some of the holes were in my plot, ways I could add in more information while still moving the story forward, and ways I could increase the tension.
So far, I have revised nine chapters and added in a couple of additional ones.
The Good and The Bad
Here is what I realized about my story:
Overall, the story was in good, but not great shape. I have a good base to work from and am excited to see where I can take it.
That said, there are some big things missing from the plot. There is no “all is lost” moment. The protagonists may have some scary moments to deal with, but really, they are never in danger. And that doesn’t work for thrillers. The good news is I have figured out the “all is lost” moment and will add that in. (It is going to be a good one!)
I found that I wrote things in later chapters that conflicted with what I wrote in earlier ones. Oops. Most of these were areas where I wasn’t sure what a character was thinking or doing. So those will be cleaned up.
I discovered that I repeated what was said by or to a character a lot! There’s one section where Sarah Walker, the protagonist, is asked the same question by three different people. On one hand, it makes sense, but they happen so close together it just seems repetitive when I read through it. I thought of keeping them in there and have her make a joke about it (“Why does everyone keep asking me that?”) but I think the best plan is to cut one or 2 of them out.
I’ve revised about 5 beginning chapters and have added in a couple that I felt help fill in details about characters and actions. I had planned to keep working through the book in this way, but after realizing the story doesn’t have all the main points it needs, I’m taking a break from that. I’m going to do an outline of the book as it stands now, and where things are missing or not working, I’m going to work on those. That will likely involve revising some chapters while taking out and adding in others.
I’m back to writing for about an hour or so first thing most mornings. This is what I did during NaNoWriMo last November, and it does let me see I am making progress. Once I understand what is missing, I’ll be back to writing as many mornings as I can.