Back around the end of May I finished the first draft of my fourth novel. It is also the first of my novels that I'm actually planning to have reach publication of one form or other. And yet it is deeply flawed on a number of levels, not least of which being the fact that the original ending was the most contrived thing to be contrived since Home Alone 2.
Like a good little planning-to-be-pro writer I started working on the outline of the next book I'm planning to write while I was letting my novel rest for the recommended month. Since I haven't yet found a novel plotting method that would completely work for me I was also reading Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot. Cathy's site Rock Your Writing has some lovely free dowloads to accompany the books and while I was there, I took a look around (something to think about, marketing wise) and it turned out Cathy had a range of services to offer, including revision coaching. I bet you can guess what happened next.
|Ryan Gosling understands my pain|
Pain! That's what happened next. Pain and suffering though thankfully no bloodshed. Cathy's coaching package consists of four one hour calls by phone or Skype and email answers to any questions. On our first call we went through character motivations then Cathy had me read through the whole manuscript, making notes and taking down scene motivations. It's a good thing I subscribe to the "dare to be bad at first" school of writing because reading through that book left me feeling more or less like I'd been run over by a series of trucks.
It's a far better thing that Cathy has been doing this for a while. I sent her a scene outline of the first draft as it was, warts and all and in two consecutive calls we went through it scene by scene, cutting mercilessly where necessary, adding new scenes and revising character motivations as well as tightening tensions all round. The result was an outline for a much better book and a plan for revisions. As I write this I am in the middle of executing said revision plan and outline and I have one more call remaining to use when I eventually melt down in the middle of my revision round.
|That's nice of you, Ryan, but I know you're just saying that because you love me.|
Now all I need to do is finish my revisions, get my query letter in shape and start working the rounds.
|Oh yeah, there's that too...|