Needed: One TALYSMANA traitor—talent, sense of humor, and backstabbing dagger required

Wanted for Hire: One Evil Traitor, sense of humor and own dagger a must.

Wanted for Hire: One Evil Traitor, sense of humor and own dagger a must.

The revision of TALYSMANA is, has been, and will continue to be a bitch on wheels.

The problem I ran into 95% of the way through the first draft was the realization that my ending could not happen with the existing beginning. Like several other novels I’ve written, I stopped writing when I figured that out, so the first draft had no ending.

I left out something critical, only I couldn’t figure out what.

I was hoping it was something simple to fix, like a plot point.

It was, in fact, a whole entire character. This I discovered via a spiffy nightmare that tipped me in the direction of “This is what your story needs.”

Which means I’m going to have to create another character from the very start of the book (or perhaps turn one of the existing characters into the traitor).

I also realized (same spiffy nightmare) that I got half of my villain wrong. The part set in TalysMana is good. The part set in the What Is, however, is utterly wrong. Police would have been on him in three seconds. So that, too, is going to take heavy rewriting.

And oh, hell, not via nightmare but though the real-life pain of reading the manuscript, I’ve discovered the Kettan I’ve read through so far is whiny and weak, and both missed the opportunities in her past, and failed to utilize her present. There are sections where she’s okay, but overall, I loathe her.  The revised Ketten will be someone I can stand to be in the same room with.

Will Grey is good, though. I like him. Emerald is good. And Fred is awesome…but he’s based on my daughter’s basset hound, who is also awesome. Fred will come through this revision unscathed.

This is not going to be any quick, easy revision, though. This is going to be a Book Is Wrecked revision. My notebook is filling up already.

 

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

16 comments… add one
  • Doug Dandridge Jan 17, 2012 @ 19:23

    Holly, I had that problem with seven novels I started in 2011 and didn’t finish. 2010 was a good year, and I completed five novels, 640,000 words, which are about to go through second rewrites and three on to agent submissions, while two are self published. In 2011 I would start on an idea, lose focus, decide that I didn’t want to find the solution to the plot or setting problem, and start another one. Get 20,000 to 40,000 words in, lose focus, and start another, until I had seven started and none finished. Started back to work on one of them and up to 64,000 words, with a promise to not start on anything else until all seven of these are at least finished first drafts. Have had more ideas in the last month, and I am waving a cross at them to ward them off until I can finish what I haven’t.

  • elizabeth Jan 6, 2012 @ 10:40

    What about having one of Will’s detective ‘friends’ be the traitor? He or she could have a gallows sense of humor and have Will’s back on some things, but ultimately betray the good guys.

  • klharrds Jan 3, 2012 @ 7:34

    Good to see this project is still running as I hate to leave a story I am reading unfinished. I am also intrigued to see how Kettan turns out as I thought while reading it that she didn’t seem to be a true HL heroine in the Talyn/Cadie mode. I think if I remember right the hero switched half way through but I couldn’t get behind him in either version. I would go as far as saying that Fred is the only character worth keeping so far but I am also a Bassett owner!

  • Emerald Jan 2, 2012 @ 19:53

    Heh, I’m just glad it wasn’t me causing you nightmares.
    Or, you know, the Talysmana version of me…

    I’m wondering, is it just me or has there not been a new chapter of the first draft sent around since Chapter 27? Did you decide to write the rest privately?

  • EliseInAZ Dec 31, 2011 @ 17:53

    I’m another one who is feeling better because of this post. I’ve recently started submitting my most recently finished novel (draft with a quick revision to change POV) to a critique group and have also discovered that my heroine needs an overhaul. Her whole motivation — or lack of it — for getting involved in the novel problem is largely missing.

    I’ve been very discouraged because I just can’t seem to get one novel completed to my satisfaction and was wondering if I’d ever be able to do that. Knowing that you, too, have big problems with books you’re writing is comforting. At least I know I’m not alone.

  • Prue Dec 24, 2011 @ 14:35

    Good luck with ‘the bitch on wheels’ – I like that description 🙂

    You give me hope with what you wrote in the post here. I had a similar problem with my novel; have sussed out one problem but there are others. Big. Not yet identified. I’d never thought that a whole new character might be needed! I’m not saying that will solve my problems but that gives me something else to consider.
    And yeah, I don’t like my heroine either. Miserable sausage she is although deep down she isn’t. I just haven’t shown how she really is.

    Anyways, battle onward! You’ll get there. At least the bitch is on wheels so you should be able to move it along without too much trouble. What am I saying? 😀

    Merry Christmas Holly x

  • dragon Dec 22, 2011 @ 8:40

    I thoroughly enjoyed the rough draft and seeing the ideas unfold in their infancy. Here’s to locating your villain and strengthening Kettan. I really liked her misunderstanding of Will’s example of Sparta?, it spoke volumes to how shaky her brain was when she re-focused her ideas and kinda blew the entire thing. Looking forward to the evolution … I don’t think I’m missing a villain from the stalled novel, just the last thing I did was such a closure bit and the lead is still way too far from where she needs to be … hmmm … oops … i think i just had an idea …after fifteen years the muse finally lets me in on what it needs … of course, it does help if you know what question to ask . Thanks.

  • WandersNowhere Dec 22, 2011 @ 3:33

    Aww, I thoroughly enjoyed Talysmana reading the first draft you’d mailed around…though it’s great that you’ve found areas for improvement. Reading the first draft was a surprise for me because of the stark difference between your somewhat skeletal style of first-draft writing and how meaty your finished works are. Well that’s a surprise to me only because I work the exact opposite way – I write babbling and plump prose and then have to trim and hone and whittle – your way is probably much cleaner and easier, but I don’t think I could do it.

  • Aynslie Hanna Dec 21, 2011 @ 13:13

    I never have nightmares, but I would welcome one if it gave me insights into the story I’m writing. I’ll have to try your method of trying to get my dreams to be more useful.

    It’s interesting that you’re looking for a sense of humor in your villain. I find that intriguing and look forward to whomever steps forward and introduces him/herself to you as you work through your character vacancy-filling selection process.

    • Holly Dec 29, 2011 @ 10:09

      Looking for a traitor with a sense of humor. The villain just needs a different job. 😀

      • Niklas Oberfeld Jan 8, 2012 @ 11:18

        My new stepmother-in-law might not have the required dagger, but she has a very sharp tongue and she has potential as a traitoring. backstabber. Plus you get her for free and you can keep her as long as you need. Even longer still

  • mitzim Dec 21, 2011 @ 9:29

    As crazy as it sounds, it’s always a comfort to know that seasoned authors still go through what newbies do. I’ve used some of your methods in your plot clinic already because I’ve hit that brick wall in some places in my novel–this is my first hand at novel-writing, so I tend to run into more issues than you or someone else would, no doubt. But good luck. You’ll figure it out. You have an amazing mind!

  • Dean Fain Dec 20, 2011 @ 11:02

    Good luck Holly. I’m at a similar situation with my novella at the moment so I feel your pain. I still haven’t had that nightmare where The Great Enlightenment has occurred:( I love the novella, but it’s too narrowly focused in my opinion. It focuses mainly on the killer and the countdown to his deadline. But I feel it needs something else – a little….I don’t know…just another plot thread I think. I’m sure the muse will enlighten me soon enough. I, also like you, am about 75% complete and can’t go any further until I figure this out. Ugh.

    Maybe I’ll have that nightmare tonight? COME ON MUSE!!!

    • Holly Dec 20, 2011 @ 11:20

      When you go to sleep, tell yourself the problem you’re having with the story, in the form of “I need an answer to why I can’t reach the ending of the story I’m writing.” Run this through your mind as you fall asleep.

      I almost always have nightmares. When I have useful ones, though, I have them because I told my subconscious mind what to scare the crap out of me with that night. Bugger is always eager to oblige.

      • Holly Dec 20, 2011 @ 11:24

        I’ll add that it’s better to have the nightmares you choose than the ones IT chooses.

        The one it whipped up for me the other night woke me breathless from a swallowed scream. I texted it to my husband, who was still awake.

        “My nightmares are getting weirder. Two creepy girls came to see me. One carried a meme, the other carried a virus. Both were the end of the world.”

        • WandersNowhere Dec 22, 2011 @ 3:30

          Meme as in internet meme or something else?

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