I have been beavering away on my manuscript for a while now, about 30,000 whiles actually, and was quite happy with the way it was going. I had my outline plotted, I knew everything about all my characters, their settings, and was even accommodating those surprise characters that appear and demand to be included. And then I read a ‘Kicking The Pants’ blog post by Dave Borcherding entitled The Epiphany That Nearly Made Me Trash My Novel – and all that changed.
In the post, Dave describes the realisation that half of his manuscript was backstory and needed to be removed. Then it hit me that this is exactly what the majority of my book is – backstory. *Cue: massive, gut-wrenching sinking feeling*
After the initial panic, I decided to take a step back and evaluate what this actually meant. I didn’t know at this point whether I was right and if I was, how much it would affect the work already done. What I have realised is that I’ve started the story too early. I have written the story from the beginning in chronological order when I should have started it closer to the start of the action. This means that most of the first quarter of the book can be removed and fed in later on. Balls.
Of course, I am now pretty annoyed with myself since I’ve spent many hours and months reading anything I can get my hands on about the craft of writing and I have definitely read about this rookie mistake many times, yet I still made it. What is a writer’s life if not one of continual learning and improvement?
So now I have a mission ahead of me, I need to re-plot the novel and decide where all the deleted backstory will be included. Now that I’ve got over the initial horror of discovering this structure problem I can put it right and I’m actually quite excited about that. I’m certain the story will be much better for it and thankfully, it means I can strengthen the dreaded mid-section with previously unrevealed traumatic events.
Right, better get cracking then, but before I do, just a quick thank you to Dave Borcherding for ruining my week and then helping me to realise that all is not lost – I can make everything better!