Monday, 19 November 2012

How I am trying to fix and edit the first chapters of my novel

First of all, I have changed the title again. Now, The Last Year of Childhood. 

I am also rewriting the early chapters of the novel. Maybe the first 6 or 8 chapters. So far, I have got to Chapter 3. I think on balance it is much improved.

First chapters in a first draft, prove difficult to me. Often it is where a lot of stuff get dumped together, and cause it to be lacking in a proper structure...although at the time of writing, it seemed good. The first chapters are where I try to introduce the important characters, and where the minor ones creep in and take over where they shouldn't. Also, it is where I try to give them personality, intention, and a position in the plot. It is where I am also setting up the plot ...maybe somewhat haphazardly, and where, more often than not, the background always seems an important aspect to include in order to help the reader understand where I'm coming from, and the world of the characters. Setting too, takes some space in these chapters, and therefore some description...maybe too much description. As character-voice helps make each character individual and unique, dialogue is important very early on.

But none of it is good enough in the first draft, so hence the rewrite. 

I have been restructuring, and making sure that my Main Character is not overshadowed by minor ones. That the Point of View is mainly from her perspective so as not to confuse the reader with head hopping. This is considerably easier, as in this rewrite, I am not introducing too much pertaining to the other secondary characters who are also important in the plot. They will have their turn and be introduced gradually. Also, I am leaving the backstory until well after the first 3 chapters, so as not to clog up the flow of the MC's story with flashbacks or backstory.

I have decided to post a paragraph that appears in my new Chapter 3. The novel is set between 1917-18, in a village in Trinidad.

Freedom to go to school again was probably going to be the most significant memory in her life, and the one she would speak of with nostalgia. Latchmin realised that day, that opportunities like that didn't come more than once in a lifetime. If she didn't grasp it fully, it would slip away like water over a rock, impossible to return after it was gone. How could it be possible to return to school once you've left school to work or to marry? It didn't need much more thinking. To her the answer was now easy. Though for many others, they never stopped to think about it long enough, but drift towards the next part of life like a stream  flowing into the hollows of a well worn riverbed. 

That first morning back at school, Mr Clifford acknowledged her with a verbal welcome, a nod as she went past, and a smile. Latchmin followed her line into her class and sat down. When the teacher began, she savoured every moment of classwork, like the first real meal she had ravenously devoured after recovering from typhoid. 

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