Incubating a Novel

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”

Larry L. King

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

My new novel is incubating. I finished the complete first draft in February. I gave it over to two beta readers who sent back their comments and suggestions in May. In the meantime, I read. One book that captured my attention was Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad. She experimented with point of view so much that at first I didn’t think I’d enjoy this Pulitzer Prize novel. However, I found myself drawn to her experimentation with her characters and their voices and the non-linear plot line.

The comments from my first readers of Trails in the Sand made suggestions about the flashbacks and suggested lack of development of certain characters. My reading led me to revamping my second draft. Each chapter changes point of view and character. I finished this draft August 28 and sent it back to one of the betas. I await her pronouncement on the first fifty pages.

“I need to know immediately if the direction works,” I told her the other day when she called to apologize for not starting to read it yet. “It may be painful for me to hear, but I need to know if I’ve gone off my rocker with the experiment.” She agreed she would let me know as soon as she could.

In the meantime, I the novel rests on an unused desk in the living room. I walk past the manuscript in its three-ring binder, but I resist the urge to open it up. The characters, plot, and me need a break.

To keep me occupied, I read. The pile on the coffee table threatens to fall, but I am making progress. Even though I do have my Kindle and read occasionally from it, I still love the feel of the real thing in my hands. I love the smell of a new book opened for the first time. I like looking at the book cover next to my nightstand when I wake in the morning.

The rewriting will come soon enough. I already have an idea for revamping the beginning scene to bring it more in line with the theme of the novel. The idea came from a book I’m currently reading.

We writers may be the storytellers, but we are also the readers. There are no shortcuts.

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