Novel writing and the distance of time

Rewriting of the novel continues. My task now is to think about structure. The structure currently is haphazard. I initially had a new chapter after each day of writing. Then I tried to improve it with chapter titles spaced evenly throughout the book. Neither of these methods made sense.

Early on after draft one, I was advised by an author that each chapter needed to end at a meaningful moment. Perhaps a cliffhanger. Perhaps a small resolution. Whatever it was, it had to make sense to serve as the end the chapter. Chapter structure is one challenge I am facing, over a year from when I started writing this book.

The other challenge, and the thing that frustrates me about the current 55,000 words, is the excessive exposition! I have been constantly explaining things; often, things that do not drive the plot forward at all. I am seeing my novel now with the distance of time in a whole new light.

Other advice on structure I have received from my writing buddy, Lucy, is to plot the whole thing out. Where’s the rising action, where’s the falling action, etc. I have now done that and come up with some action on which to base the narrative. I should have done this in the beginning.

The critical point to make today is how time changes you as a writer. I have learnt so much more about writing since I started the novel that now I see it full of flaws. The writing served a specific purpose for me at the time when I was writing last year. But now we are coming to the end of another year and the distance shows me that the novel needs masses of work. I will keep going.

Would love to hear feedback on others’ experiences of temporal perspective and writing.

2 Comments

  1. You’re so right, Polly. I wrote so many stories in my 20s that just didn’t hit the mark. I was told to write what I know but I was too close to it. Some of the things that happened to me then certainly made it into the book I’ve written at 50, but I couldn’t write about them until they were water under the bridge. Getting a bit of distance was what I needed. I wish I’d been told ‘write about what you know – but not necessarily what you’re currently living through’. The distance of time is a wonderful thing as you said – and as the years go by it’s easier to enjoy the view.

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    1. Thank you for that feedback, Lucy. I definitely agree that the writing of the first draft of the novel was very much a product of my mindset in 2017. But everything changes and it’s great (though hard work) seeing it now afresh and thinking about how I can make it less a meditation on ideas and more of a story that is interesting to the reader. X

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