Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The White Flag

Ok, here’s the deal. I have been going through my first novel, Darkness on the Plains, with the high hopes of doing what few say is even possible. I hoped to turn it in to something that people would enjoy reading. I am sad to say that I have failed in that endeavor. I love the characters I created and there are many portions of the story that I think are both original and fun to read, but that isn’t enough to make it a good story. I tried to look for ways to make the plot more…cohesive. I tried to tighten the portions that seemed to be nothing more than my ramblings about things that I thought important at the time, but really did nothing to move the story along in the proper direction.

Many have said that a writer’s first attempt should be looked at as a great learning experience that should be locked away so that the masses will never know how bad they stumbled with those first steps. At this point, I tend to agree (at least, in my case).

When I discussed this with my wife, she felt it appropriate to quote (loosely) Kenny Rogers, “You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to walk away and know when to run. Baby, I think its time to run.”

But wait, didn’t you write a sequel to the book? Hell yeah, and I started a third one to boot. I will just have to make Blood on the Plains more of a stand-alone book and take it from there.

It’s a new year and I have a new outlook on my work. I will begin the re-write of the second book soon and I will post it a chapter at a time here, in hopes that your feedback will help me see the holes that I can’t. I have never posted the first book in its entirety, so for most, if not all of you, it will be easier for you to find places that need more explanation before they will work. I thank you all to be as frank as possible when commenting on the chapters that I post. If something doesn’t work for you, by all means let me know.

I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger lime said...

i am looking forward to reading one of your works in its entirety.

a very happy new year to you and your family, goody!

At 10:22 AM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

I'm not sure what this is about, but I think I understand. If it's any comfort. BROTHERS was my first novel. I wrote it. It was really bad. I rewrote it. It was worse. The core of the story was good, but...I couldn't make it work. I rewrote it again and again and again and...it got a little better but not really wonderful. That was two years ago.

So I put it away, at Bunion suggestion. I wrote DEEPEST BLUE. Then I rewrote it. Then it got murdered, twice. And I put it away, that was over a year ago. And I wrote MIN-LI MAKES A MESS, And started a bunch of other things and somewhere in all of it, while hot on the heels of another novel. I pulled BROTHERS out again, reread it. It was really painful to do that. That was a year ago. But, I dunno, something bugged me. I couldn't let the story go. So I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote and slashed and burned and burned and slashed and people stopped telling me to put it away and told me to get on with it. It got shot down, twice more. I went back and rewrote it. And again. One day. It was done. I gave it to people who'd normally never read that type of thing and who had no reason to just make me feel better and they liked it. The Bunions like it. Now it's done. Four years later. But I'm not querying it yet. My synopsis stinks. Perhaps I'm still too close to it. Better I go with HINDSIGHT first. So don't give up on your first. Just put it away for a couple of years, bring it out when you're a better writer. Write something completely different in the meantime. Completely, absolutely different.

I think a lot of those first novels we stuff in drawers are not unsalvageable. I think that we're afraid to go at them again, after we learn something because they're too painful to read. I'm glad I didn't do that with BROTHERS. Now, when the Bunions get drunk we read early versions of it for a laugh. And boy do we laugh.

Do you have a critique group to work with. Ones who aren't worried about hurting your feelings?

A happy, healthy and productive new year to you James. Don't give up.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Thanks M.G., i am glad to hear that you were able to salvage yours. i may revisit mine down the road, but the more I look at the second story, I may just leave them both alone for a while. I think, as you said, I should try to write something else that is absolutely different. I have begun work on Chapter 1 of a new book. I haven't thought of a good title yet, but i just started writing, I'm not even sure where the story will take me yet.
I have a couple of people that are wonderful Beta Readers (big thanks to Stephanie and Shannon), and a few others that have given me wonderful advice from time to time (another round of thanks to Robin and Eva, but as far as an actual critique group, no I don't belong to one.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

MG has some good advice there. I can safely hide behind the fact that my 'first' novel was written over ten years ago, was a children's fantasy piece (damn, I was so ahead of the curve on Harry Potter) and it will never see the light of day.

The first mystery I wrote, I thought was a lost cause. I won't bore you with the long story, but it turns out I was wrong. Part of the problem can be that we're too close to our work to see it objectively.

And I don't really have a critiquing group either.

But I wish you success with your next venture, and you may yet go back to the other projects and see them through fresh eyes and give them new life. I don't necessarily think the first thing you write should be shelved. That's very individual, I think.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Well, James, and Sandra, if you're looking for somebody to give your work a critical once over, feel free to send it to me. You've got my email. It's on my profile and my author site. As Dana will tell you, as will any of the other Bunions, I'm ruthless, but not unkind.

So - chin up everybody. 2006 is another year. You'll look back on stuff you wrote today and wonder 'what was I thinking?'. That's a good thing. Sandra, in 10 years more, that children's fantasy may well be something that needs to see the light of day. Things go in cycles and HP is horribly overwritten.

I have yet to shelve anything entirely. I just put them in a folder and every once in a while pull them out and think, Hmmmm.... You know, Sharon, I pulled out some of my old short stories after I checked out your Spinetingler magazine and I CRINGED at how much work they needed. They aren't bad stories. They're good stories, but boy does the writing need to be upgraded!

At 12:28 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Sorry, I mean SANDRA. Oy! If I only had a brain...

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Believe me MG, I've been called worse!

I find writing short stories to be exceptionally challenging. I don't have a one-track brain so it's hard for me to focus on one cohesive story line. So I try to set one goal at the outset, and hope to reach it.

I have a few in limbo that need a lot of work... You should have seen me on Restoration. Revising it was a nightmare. It's much better than the original but the entire premise of it changed. yup, even in short fiction...

At 2:59 PM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Thanks, Sandra. Maybe, I am being a little too hasty, with shelving my baby.

M.G., maybe I could have you tear into my mess of a story before I give up on it. I would, of course, be willing to return the favor (or at least try :D)

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Breazy said...

I have no degree or any kind of experience with correcting ones writing however , I do read alot and I will give you my opinion on things if that is okay . Hope you and your family had a wonderful New Years !

At 8:50 AM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Breazy, you know I treasure your opinion on my writings. Degree or no, you have had some wonderful things to add to The Dance and I look forward to your comments on future books.

I would still be up for letting you be one of my Beta Readers if you decided that you were interested.

I hope 2006 is a more joyous one for your family.

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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