I am finally feeling motivated to write some more. As always I’ve got more ideas than time to write them all and I’d really like to get some of the longer pieces finished and released, specifically Built for Murder mystery novel and the follow-up Festival of Murder, as well as the Alexiandrolarn fantasy novella.
But both need serious rewriting and lots of polishing to kick them into decent shape. So this week I started a spreadsheet on each to get some idea of where I was at and what needed fixing. Basically what I did was plot every scene in each story onto a separate row of the spreadsheet. Doing so allows me to see at a glance the story flow, highlight the good scenes versus the bad, note the weak or useless ones that are pure indulgence or filler, and see how all the plots and subplots line up. Finally, I made a note of what the purpose was of each scene or comments on how to improve it.
Built for Murder came across as absolute garbage plot-wise in my spreadsheet.
It was written using a stream of consciousness model. I wanted an easy flowing narrative that allowed for some personal observations, a slow build, and a generally relaxed story that didn’t involve a lot of fisticuffs or shootouts as is all too common in American based stories. I wanted to avoid mindless action for a more nuanced approach. I guess I did but that lackadaisical style tends to make the story wander, which really shows when you break it down into individual scenes.
And so, like rebuilding an engine I’ve got to restructure the whole story, make the subplots stronger or throw them away totally in order to strengthen the main narrative.
I have to say it was a worthwhile learning experience. Also a bit humbling. Some of the scenes work really well, they flow, they engage, they make the story as real as I can possibly make at my current level of fiction writing experience. But I can see how to make the novel better and that’s what I plan to do, make it better.
Did the same spreadsheet exercise for Festival of Murder even though its not anywhere near completion. Even with the 8 chapters I have the weak ones leapt off the page at me.
Now I just need to do the work and make it happen. Wish me luck.