Raise your hand if you remember this commercial:
If so, then you may understand how I felt three weeks ago when my mentor, Rebecca Petruck, wrote:
Mikey's brothers couldn't touch my excitement.
Faithful readers of my blog may remember a post in September, 2014 when, after completing the third draft of my book, I announced I'd discovered the "clay"of my story.
As it turned out, the clay I'd thrown on the potters wheel still needed trimming.
In Rebecca's editorial letter about Draft #4 she identified twelve different threads I'd (oh so carefully!) woven together into Half-Truths. That did not count the threads I had in place for my two protagonists. (Do you sense a problem here?)
Here is what Half-Truths wants to be:
- A white and black girl become friends, despite social norms of 1950s Charlotte.
- A white and black girl discover they are related, and the implications of that.
She also pointed out the multitude of locations and recommended thinking about my book as if was a play. Which sets would be created? She suggested just five. That was a whole lot more than were in this draft.
There were also too many injured animals and she suggested I choose one. Bird or goat? There was never a question in my mind which would win out.
But the hardest part was when Rebecca and I skyped and I realized that the girl's love interests--which I'd spent a HUGE amount of time crafting and sweating over--pulled the reader away from the girls' friendship.
The boys got moved to the back seat.
In November I spent several weeks writing a new outline. I drew closer to each girls' internal and external journeys and eliminated a bunch of settings. I patted myself on the back, sent it off to Rebecca, and started writing Draft #5.
As it turns out, my self-congratulations were premature.
In mid-December (on my birthday no less!) I received these notes from Rebecca:
But the execution of that idea--has been far more complicated. I went far and wide and gathered a lot of ideas before I discovered the precious nugget which was right under my nose. The girls' friendship is the heart of my story.
Which reminds me of Professor Higgins's triumphant song in My Fair Lady:
(I dare you to not start singing "The Rain in Spain" now!)
Only two beta readers read Draft #4. Their probing feedback helped me confirm my decision to take the boys out of the book. Since then, they've read the first five chapters of Draft #5. One told me, "My biggest observation is that you're saying more with fewer words."
Which came from writing all those previous drafts.
Which led me to gaining more focus.
How about you?
What are you focusing on in 2016?