I worked on draft two for a while today and found myself frustrated. Not only is the first draft way too exposition heavy at the end, but it didn’t flow the way I wanted it to. A lot of that ties in with the previous post about pacing, which I think will be easily fixable, but some of it has to do with creating unity.
One method for creating a sense of unity in a piece of writing is the use of selective repetition. A detail or remark or even just a unique word mentioned early in your piece can be echoed later, creating a sense of wholeness through the reader’s recognition of the previous mention. That recognition also imbues the repeated element with a resonance, not unlike a coda in a musical composition. The reader enjoys a satisfying sense of progression, of having moved from one literary moment to another.
Reread a piece you’re working on with an eye toward finding that element you could repeat in a subtle way, and then look for a place later in the piece where you could drop it in. If you’re unsure which one would be most affective, experiment by trying several. Ask yourself: If you had to cut all the details or images and retain only one, which one would you keep? That’s the one you want.
While some of the exposition is important, it doesn’t have to be an info-dump like it is in the story so far. For now, there are perhaps four or five main events that occur after the main climax of the novel. I’ll summarize them here:
1. Sarah’s impressions of Scotland (this is description, but it ties into a few different things.)
2. Sarah and Cam’s Moderately Bad Decision
3. Sarah’s dream
4. Meeting Mariusz and seeing Anna for the first time
5. The Awakening of three more seers
6. (Oops, I lied!) In Which Sarah and Cam Have a Conversation With a Tree
Somehow in the first draft those things take up approximately fifty pages. Not necessary. So far I cut out about 10% of that, but a lot more needs to come out. Every single one of those things creates a flow between books one and two so that the reader can pick up the second book and feel connected to the story in spite of the fact that the protagonist will be Anna instead of Sarah for most of the second book (with the exception of a few chapters). The seer thing will most likely land itself at the end of the book, and be referenced in an epilogue. What is frustrating at the moment is the structure. I like a lot of the writing — as writing, not as part of the story. There’s some beautiful description and some quirky funny bits, but they’re not really useful to the story, and thus need to be relegated to the bin of scrapped verbosity.
I like the very end a lot. I think it does a great job of setting up book two whilst wrapping up book one. It’s just a bit in the middle of the end that irritates me. It’s like having a bramble stuck in between my shirt and my bra, right between my shoulder blades. How annoying.
I don’t think I’ll get draft two done before the honeymoon, more’s the pity, but we are getting there. Slow and steady. The other applicable bit about unity is that I need to add some things that bring the first book back to the beginning a little. Tickle the reader’s memory so that he or she feels the continuity. There are a lot of good ways to do that, so I don’t think it will be a problem. That could go in the polishing draft; we’ll see.
I have a lot of food for thought. I wish I could just go poof and make it perfect, but what would be the fun in that? Come on.
Vale la pena, no?
EDIT NOTE: No idea why, but apparently this never got published. That’s why I was so confused as to why I couldn’t find my post on unity when I went onto the next part of The 25. Silly me. It was still a draft. I think it is still relevant, so here you go. A little Easter egg in October. Like a Halloween egg. Just not thrown at someone’s house.
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