Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Take Four

(cross-posted from Sean M. Murphy's blog)

Last Monday morning, I waded back in to this murder mystery. I've already started this book three times, but each time, something was off--the character wasn't likeable, or the story felt flat--something. Each time I started over, the piece I was writing kept getting shorter, too--another frustration, because it felt like my overall wordcount was going the wrong direction; 2,800 words became 1,900 words became 1,400 words. But until I get the tone right, there's no point in writing the rest of the story--I'd only have to go back and write a completely different story when I finally figured it out.

I think I've finally figured it out.

I needed snarky, I needed light, I needed a character that readers can connect with. Here's a quick snippet from the first chapter that I'm particularly happy with:

Melinda had broken up with Daniel--boyfriend of five years and fiancĂ© for the last nineteen months--just last Friday. She’d come home early from a girl’s night out, hoping to maybe watch a movie and snuggle before bed.

Mistake number one. Never come home early.

Daniel had company, apparently--a young woman from a few floors up in their high-rise. It was a party without any clothes, and Melinda had felt a little uninvited when she walked into the apartment she and Daniel shared and found them busy rearranging the living room furniture.

She counted it as a point of honor that she hadn’t killed anyone. Yet.

It was surprising, though, how quickly you could sell a two-carat diamond solitaire on eBay.

The word count went down to 1,000 words, but this time, it felt like they were the right words. And that makes all the difference.

Tuesday I smoothed them over a bit and added another 200 words, and this morning I put another 1,000 into the mix. Hopefully, the ball is rolling, and momentum will out!


Tim Susman said...

Congratulations! Best of luck moving forward with the book. I like the opening so far...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tim!

One of the things that often gets missed by aspiring writers is the sheer amount of material that has to be thrown away, or the number or tries it can take to find the right tone or voice for a piece, so I wanted to talk about that here.

Anonymous said...

is the sheer amount of material that has to be thrown away

Yes, that sure was an eye-opener to me. Although I have to say I "throw away" very little. I save my cuts (unless it's a useless sentence or two) in separate files and have found that usually I'm able to rework them to use elsewhere. I don't have to completely submit my darlings to genocide. ;)

Good luck with your story.