by Shelt Garner
Every once in a while, this novel writing project would collapse in on itself, requiring me to scramble to put the pieces back together. It has happened yet again, this time causing me to effectively to not only slice 50,000 words off of it, but to be forced to think up a whole new second and third act out of whole cloth.
As such, I fear that it won’t be the spring 2023 querying season I’ll be doing, but, rather the fall 2023 season. This sucks so much. But it had to be done. I found myself working on a scene in the first act and I realized that I was forcing readers to wait way too long to get to “the good stuff.” I know why this happened — I was using the structure of The Girl Who Played With Fire as a crutch, telling the story the way Stieg Larsson told that story, not the way that best fit with the story I was trying to tell.
So, I’ve reverted to a much more traditional structure, one that gets to the point and gets the story going far sooner. In a sense, this new structure is closer to what we find in Gone Girl, than The Girl Who Played With Fire. But, as I said, I have to find an entirely new second and third act. I’ve pretty much found the first half of the second act, but at the moment, I’m still struggling with the second half of the novel.
One key issue is I’m a little nervous that the story, while interesting, isn’t dark enough or sexxy enough for the intended audience. I have a few ideas as to how to raise the stakes — including throwing in a bit of speculative fiction — but I am still a little nervous that the overall story is a little too meh to catch anyone’s attention.
But, with that in mind, I may — finally — force myself to do all that reading I need to do. Even without the reading, I’m beginning to better understand storytelling basics like character development and motivation, goals and cause and effect. The learning curve has been severe the last few years, but I definitely know how *I* develop and write a novel length tale.
I find myself mulling a few scifi concepts as all of this is going on, out of frustration if nothing else. But, for the time being, I know this thriller universe so well that I just don’t feel like pulling too much energy away from it to flesh out a new fictional universe or two.
So, here I am. Back to something akin to square one with this whole project. But I’m feeling a lot better about what the end result will look like.