The Benefits of Leaving your Precious Manuscript Out of View for a few months.
So here I am. With 130,000 words of the most challenging, riveting, compelling thriller I have ever written.
I have put this particular manuscript to one side for a few months during which I completed, and submitted another book.
It is international, with stunning sensual settings, it is based on a current topical medical issue worldwide, and it frames the emotional impact of this dilemma on some deeply flawed characters thrown out of their ordinary world into a very real underworld, where they are going to have to work hard to get out in one piece.
So. Time to get to work. I pick up the printed pages, recline on my comfy sofa and start reading.
I am now half way through, and one thing is clear.
I am going to have to re-write most of it.
I can already see a number of key factors which leap out of the pages at me;
* there are WAY too many characters with speaking parts. And why have I given some of them names which start with the same initial? And sound phonetically similar?
* I will probably have to cut the first 3 chapters – too much background and technical detail, way too much context and not enough action. There is a lot of scientific material to convey and I am trying to avoid InfoDump. Serious slashing to come.
* the violence and action which creates the Inciting Incident in Chapter One hits two characters who are not introduced prior to the traumatic event, so the reader does not know anything about them. Why should they care that these things are happening to these people? Why should they invest their emotional energy and time in these characters?
* I have a female protagonist who is so flawed I am worried that the reader will not be able to empathise or sympathise with her.
* The other main character is the macho male professional detective. I have not given the reader anything about his background or personality. Nothing is written from his point of view at the moment and there are no introspective elements I can work.
And then there is the BIG, BIG problem.
I have NOT made it clear that there is a deep, intense, personal connection between the criminal/the crime committed, and my female heroine/detective.
Her ghost = linked to the motivation for the crime.
By solving this crime my heroine will retrieve what is missing in her life and put the past to rest. And I have not made that obvious from the first page.
Big Mistake. Huge. Without that element, why should the reader invest in this person and what they are going to have to go through to come out the other end some 400 pages later?
Hey hum. On with the Show. Time to get back to the fundamentals.