In Ghost Roads, I’d finished the whole thing, edited it all, sent it to beta readers, thought it was ready, and then gave it to my editor. She came back with one simple question that ended up in a great deal of revision.
Luckily, this time I realized the vital question about half way through book four. I’m busy cutting, pasting, and deleting at the moment.
Book four is tentatively titled Sunshine On My Shoulders. I recently realized that I kept jumping back and forth between who the antagonist was. I thought it was one character, then had a brilliant (so I thought) light bulb moment when I realized that no, it was this character. Then a week or so later, I had another light bulb moment.
I’ve gone through a lot of light bulbs.
I thought I was struggling to find the right antagonist because that’s what keeps changing.
So I went to Janice Hardy’s excellent book, Revising Your Novel, and the section on what to do if you think you have the wrong antagonist. She says one issue might not be the antagonist himself, but the core conflict or premise of the novel.
And that’s it. Not the antagonist at all, but the victim. Because I hadn’t discovered how exactly the victim tied to the core conflict. In other words, if you don’t know why someone is killed, how can you know who did it? Or why they would do it? My villains were all innocent.
I’ve figured it out. Now I’m using those writer’s tools of cutting, pasting, and deleting. Some things have to happen a little sooner. Some things need to happen immediately after others. Some characters are going to have to wait until the next book. And some characters are going to have to step up and get busy.
It’s actually kind of fun being ruthless with the delete key. And I don’t have to make as many changes as I thought because my subconscious was working and some scenes now make sense. Thank you, subconscious.
I’m headed back to do some more cutting and pasting. I think I’m done deleting.
For the moment.
After all, the editor still hasn’t seen this one.