Sorry, been away for too long. Let me explain. No, there’s too much. Let me sum up.
My first novel The Sugarmaker’s Son, in progress for five years, is currently on the market with agents. So far the query letter and partials have been getting reasonably positive responses. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything more at this point. Suffice to say, if a contract is signed or check cut, I’ll announce it here first.
Want a preview of the novel? “Heartwood,” a short story excerpted from the novel will appear in WragInk’s Philly Anthology along with several emerging area writers. Be sure to pick up a copy in January.
While I’m waiting on word about the first I’ve begun working on my second novel. This will be very different than my first book, but not so much a reader wouldn’t make the leap. Anyway, no sequel here. I can say even less about this novel than the first, alas.
Writing Process Progress
I can say that I expect the first draft will take much less time though. When I first tried to write The Sugarmaker’s Son, I was enrolled in a novel workshop at Rosemont College. Never wrote a novel before the class and the best plan I had was to write a novel based on a short story. My synopsis and outline were abandoned fairly early; I finished it through sheer will. Most of the characters I hadn’t defined yet; several of the plot points were vague, not at all connected. I was terrified that I would run out of material and desperately worked to keep the story afloat.
The second draft, on the other hand, was much worse. A lot of tweaks; more questions of plot and characters answered, but the plot went wildly off track. The outline was almost like a different book. I kept a list of plot threads and keep writing to resolve them as the story moved ahead, on intuition. Not a recommended approach. So frustrating to reach a point when you have a lot of writing (like a slab of clay) and not know what to do with it.
For the third draft, I had begun to lose track of what had been written, what was good or bad, what I wanted to keep or ditch. So I took the story down to the framework and created a five-page synopsis (I call it a treatment) of the book, accounting for the pieces from the two drafts I thought worked. More than a third of the story I’d still have to write from scratch. After that was solid, resolving almost all of the questions I had avoided through two drafts, I created an outline of each chapter. By making a very thorough synopsis I had settled the overall story in my mind before starting again, ensuring I didn’t go too far off the path. And when I did, it was because my mind was filling in a new, useful idea.
So far, I’ve finished a synopsis of the second novel and keep refining it. There are a few points I still need to work out, but I’ve avoided beginning the first chapter until I’m happy with the synopsis and the outline. And that has been a struggle: it feels so ready in my mind.
This process, though, will save time and effort. Instead of the fear of writing a novel I felt in the first draft or the frustration of the second, I can see the story and know there area lot of fun chapters ahead. And, as an author, that’s a darn good feeling.