Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Look Back and Looking Ahead

We got home from the conference late yesterday. My husband tells me we traveled 1800 miles. Joan and Krista and I not only did well together but we had had some really good times. All three of us missed our husbands, and Krista missed her three little girls, but we all profited from the conference and were glad we went.

Sunday night on our return trip we stayed with my daughter Laurie and family outside Chicago. The evening had some excitement when their sweet Desi dog tangled with a skunk in the backyard while son-in-law Rick was setting up the patio with their comfortable chairs around the fire pit. As we three sat there with our laptops, we got to laughing, so much so that Laurie said, “I think you ladies had entirely too much fun on this trip!” We didn’t argue with her.

On the rest of our way home Monday, we did that long trek the length of the state of Illinois. After lunch Joan was driving. She has some fascinating family history about an ancestral family where some of them were massacred and some captured during the French and Indian War. Joan’s next a novel, about a third already written, is built on that true story. We were having a great time talking about it when suddenly Krista realized we had missed our turnoff onto I-24 that would take us across Kentucky toward Nashville. Fortunately, she caught it when we had only gone eleven miles beyond, and we were able to cut across another road to catch the right one without backtracking.

As for looking ahead, a few minutes ago I printed out the “storybook” blocks of text that I will use to decide what to do with the eighty pages/forty scenes that will be affected when I start the story at a new and more active point.

It was interesting to talk to some other authors about this at the conference. Gail Martin, who has now sold 2.5 million books, told me that on the first book she published she had to cut the first 102 pages. Deb Raney, who had three books in three categories win “Book of the Year” at the conference, said she and Tamera Alexander have both had to cut multiple pages from where they originally started some of their books. It’s apparently common for less experienced authors to start their stories too early before the real action begins.

What I will do is cut out the blocks of text that I printed (in very large type so they are easy to work with) and use them to sort those parts of the story. Examples: What happened in this scene will be gone completely. Or, I need the essence of what happened in this one, but I’ll have to work it in another way. Or, this scene may need to be a full-fledged flashback (though I will have to be sparing with those). The biggest challenge will be how to subtly work into the new beginning what has happened before that point. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that as I go along.

In closing for tonight, I can’t believe how many typos were in the blog I posted from the hotel. Sorry about that. I fixed some of them on the trip home, but I discovered yet another one today. They were all the kind of thing spell checkers don’t catch because the wrong words were nevertheless real words. I guess it happens to all of us.

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