Thursday, October 6, 2011
Last Friday was a red-letter day in my home office. I finally finished the first draft of my novel, Beneath the Surface. What a great feeling and a surprise, because, as you know, I haven't been writing this novel in sequence. All of a sudden, when I was looking for the next piece of the puzzle, I realised there weren't any more chapters to write--I was finished. Just like that!
How long have I been writing this novel? Years! Don't ask how many times the plot has changed, I lost count when the setting switched from the US to Canada. Then the back story changed from the 1600s to the 1800s. Complete re-write both times.
I've come to love this story. Of course, it's inspired by an ancestor, Eliza Ann Huff, my great-great maternal grandmother, who is descended from William the Silent of Holland c. 1533. No, Eliza wasn't hanged like fictitious Johanna Huff and they settled in Baysville, Ontario, not Tweed, where I've set the novel. Okay, the only similarity between them is the surname, but they were both pioneer women with large families and farms to keep them busy. Sometimes when I'm writing the back story, I can feel Eliza guiding me, showing me how they survived without any modern conveniences.
Celebrating the completion of the first draft didn't last long when I realised how much more work is left to do. I have folders of notes and changes to incorporate into the manuscript and I'm slowly tackling that chore. I almost wish I'd added the changes when I thought of them, but I didn't so I'm stuck crossing off each note as I find its proper place.
Then the real work will begin. I'll print out a fresh copy of the manuscript, which is already over 500 pages. I'll check the pacing and make sure each chapter contains conflict. Check to make sure each character is consistent and believable. Check both past and present time lines. I'll read dialogue separately and of course check the spelling, grammar and punctuation. Have I missed anything?
That should keep me busy for the next month or two. I guess the celebration is over for now.