Writing a Novel Takes a Village
I am about to embark on writing the second draft of my novel. I took some time away from it (recommending by Mr. Stephen King) and when I returned, I read it and took notes on what I liked, what I didn't, what worked, how much of a hot mess it is, etc.My husband reminded me of the term "kill your darlings" last night. This phrase comes from Faulkner. He is quoted as saying "In writing, you must kill all your darlings." In a nutshell: don't get attach to anything. It mostly refers to phrases/sentences/paragraphs that might work for the writer but not the reader. They are items we cling to as writers because we love them but they might not work for a general audience. I also have found, to me, it can refer to characters and plot points. Writing anything is personal. It is ripping something out of your soul and putting it on display like you donated an animal to a zoo. Any critique or edit of it can sting and make you resistant to any feedback. But, you really have to kill them. Kill them all. I may not have killed many darlings last night but I did some body chopping. I have been working on my outline and figuring out why I am telling this story, who these characters are, and how we get from A to B without stumbling. I have had skeleton in my head for months and now I have to put on the flesh. My husband came home and I practically accosted him and told him I needed a sounding board and it was happening right now.So we brainstormed.My husband is an excellent sounding board because he reads fantasy, sci fi, and comic books. He knows how these stories tend to go and can take the ideas I had floating in space and pull them down and place them in tidy order. And that's exactly what we did. We talked it out; everything I had been thinking, what he thought of that, ideas he came up with listening to mine, and we made a plot that worked a hell of a lot better. It is completely different than the original idea I had but the heart of the story is there. I don't plan to lose that piece.Having a sounding board I think is essential to writing.I am in a writer's group of women. We haven't met in weeks because we are all amazing and our schedules are insane. When we have met, it has been insanely insightful. We all are so different and unique and our writing is nothing alike. It is the same as when I made my husband stand and listen to me babble for twenty minutes about my story and my characters. You feed them your soul and they take it, digest it and then share how it tasted. Maybe it is too sour or needs more salt. Maybe it reminds them of a dish their mother used to make and they love it. Or hate it. Or they have something to suggest to improve it. Having a group or a person to just hear the words in my head has made this process so much easier. I know now why the author's thank yous in the backs of books can be so long. Mine is already and it isn't even done.It is the road less traveled but then you find someone to lay down some markers to show you that you are not entirely lost.I change a lot of my plot last night. I killed a few darlings. But I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I had been sitting here, talking to myself, pacing around my living room trying to get my characters to tell me how and why they have done the things they did to start the story. Saying it out loud to an actual person helped to hear how silly something sounded or how right it fit with the motivations I thought they had. I wanted to be able to have an elevator pitch and I am closer than I was last week to getting there.Hard work pays off, my friends. Because my husband is a fan/nerd, he asked a lot of questions. What is this magic? How did this happen? Where do they live? Are there more magic creatures? Questions I had all the answers to because I planned the shit out of this. I knew how the world was created, the magic, the creatures, the geography, how the king/queen is chosen, riffs between different races. I am not sure if he was impressed but I certainly was. I hadn't realized how much I had let escape me onto paper as I was planning. I practically wrote a novella on the backstory of the world and two of the main characters and how they met. I did the work and it has paid off. I didn't lie and say I was working on that. Having the answers on my tongue felt absolutely incredible. I did the work and the work is providing.I don't think I can write this novel alone. I don't think anyone should write alone. I haven't let any one read the novel draft (it would not make any sense) but I have talked about it and gathered a lot of magnificent feedback and new ideas. These will be the people reading it. It is important to remember the reader and my husband told me last night, he would read this book (we are married, he has to say that but I think he meant it). Right now, I feel settled with the path this story is taking. I feel energized to jump back into it and write the second draft starting April 1st. I'm exhilarated to see what comes out this time.