I just had an epiphany: I need to re-write about a third of my novel.
It has taken me two and half years to finish my novel. No, I didn’t spend each day of those two and half years writing on my novel, but when I started and when I finished the novel, between those two times, roughly two and half years passed.
And in that time, my writing skills changed. For better or worse, I write differently now.
JW Manus (bless her) graciously offered to help me with the first bit of my novel. She gave me a task. She asked that I re-write my very first paragraph with a very specific goal in mind: focus on what Lorena wanted and felt at that moment.
I did as asked.
Manus responded that I had completed the task to her satisfaction. Surprised I was able to meet her expectations, I re-read what I sent her.
Damn. My new stuff is way better than that horrible crap I wrote years ago!
And now I understand one of my beta-reader’s comments. He said the book really didn’t take off until about when Andreas and Lorena meet, that’s about a third of the way in. At first, I thought, oh no, he’s just saying that because that’s when all the swashbuckling mayhem starts in the story. But, I really want Andreas to go through that short journey through the Spanish country-side. Though I understand you have to hook the reader into your story by starting with the main action, I think the main action is actually when his father sends him off on a journey right before they are to leave Spain. I mean that’s the conflict, right? There they are, getting ready to abandon their home when his father tells him to go out into the woods looking for a beast that probably doesn’t exist and that may or may not help them when they get to Portugal.
Anyway, I’m going off on tangents, the point is, that part that my beta-reader pointed out as where the story got interesting for him, that’s the point where I started writing the story again after I’d been writing a lot of flash and short fiction to hone my skills.
So, I think, the writing got better – not the story.
It very may well be both, but I definitely think my writing improved at that point and he may have found it easier to read, and therefore, he made that remark.
Anyway, that all made me realize that I need to re-write the first third of my novel. I’ll probably end up re-writing the whole thing, but, well, got to start somewhere. 😉