As I sit here on this dull and gloomy Friday with my mug of tea, my pink, purple and turquoise fingerless gloves on and Katy Perry blasting on my iPod, the first draft of FrostFire is complete!
In the name of full disclosure I must admit that it stinks. It stinks so much I can practically see the squiggles emanating from it, like PigPen in Charlie Brown. But that doesn't matter, because IT IS FINISHED! Now it goes into a nice, neat folder and gets to wait for two weeks to mature, at the end of which I shall be plunged into the deepest depths of darkness (otherwise known as editing) before the book wings its way to the well-organised desk of my editor. Hurrah!
Before I dive head-first into my newly acquired Series One Boxset of The Vampire Diaries (review coming next week, peeps) there are two things to be dealt with. First, I need to repeat my appeal for information from any Japanese blog readers who do not live in Japan. Or do you know someone who fits the bill? Please contact me if so! I really want my portrayal of a teenage Japanese/English girl to be respectful and accurate, but if I can't talk to anyone about it, I'm just going to have to go with my best guess, and I might get things wrong. It'll be too late when the book's written.
Next, a reader email from a very polite young lady called Aimen who asks:
I left my novel for a couple of days since I was falling behind on schoolwork and when I came back to it, I realized that there was a whole chapter where my characterization was completely wacky... So, now I'm wondering: should I go back and improve the characterization (ultimately editing the whole chapter) or should I just keep on writing? With the latter, there is the possibility that the novel might turn out differently. But with the former, there's a chance that I might get discouraged when I realize that more than 5000 words are missing.
Okay, here's what I think. Generally, 90% of the time, if I realise something is wrong in an earlier part of the story I'm working on I LEAVE IT BE. Otherwise I find that I can't stop with that one scene or chapter and I end by completely revising the partial manuscript, which is a complete waste of time because a) I'll have to go back and revise it again later anyway and b) I can fall prey to a serious fit of the mid-book blues, thinking 'this manuscript sucks, nothing turned out the way it was supposed to, I hate it' and then having to give myself pep talks to convince myself not to give up.
So when people ask me this question normally I tell them to take out their notebook (you have a notebook, right? If not, get one, it will change your life) and make a big, red, highlighted note to fix whatever it is LATER and then move on. Usually, having identified that problem area will mean that you write your later scenes with increased knowledge anyway.
However, in this case it seems like you've already re-read your partial manuscript and you haven't burst into tears and decided to just give up forever (which is a good sign) and also, that you've realised you missed out on a crucial element on your story which could have a critical impact on the way the story and characters develop later on. There are definitely times, as a writer, when you go into a scene expecting one thing and the characters and story want Something Else, and that Something Else changes the whole story. I usually try to go with this because it results in a richer and more complex story.
If you really feel as if this scene, written as it is, is going to hold your characters back, and that carrying on with events as they are wouldn't be truthful to them, then it might be better for you to go back, revise it so that the scene 'sings' for you, with all the right emotions in place...and then see how that effects things. It might be that the logical follow-on from the new scene will have little effect on the full book, in which case, carry on. It might be that now you realise this character is really like THIS and the other character would never do THAT, you also realise your original series of story events won't work anymore, in which case you can change them now, before you've written them, and save yourself much stress and many wasted words later on, when you realise you went down the wrong path.
Whichever option you chose though, remember that the most important thing is always to finish your story. You can fix anything in revision - except a blank page.
Hope this was useful, Aimen.
Have a great weekend everyone! *Skips away whistling*