I’m doing rewrites on a book at the moment, but not the sort of rewrites I’ve done in the past. I would have thought that by now I should be well-versed in this kind of thing, having written twelve books, but this is a new one on me.
I’m not changing the story, as such. That’s not to say, when the book reaches the editing stage, there won’t BE story changes that need to be made, but at it stands I’m reasonably happy with it. It flows, twists and turns, and it makes sense - in as far as a thriller set against a backdrop of the supernatural CAN make sense. I’ve invented a world with certain rules and the inhabitants of this world follow those rules.
Just as, in a vampire story, the Creatures of the Night cannot roam the countryside in daylight, eat garlic bread, or cross the threshold without being invited in. The jury’s still out on the whole ‘sparkling’ debate.
This is not a vampire novel, by the way.
The reason I’m doing the rewrites is because I realised I needed to change the setting of the first half of the book. The storyline originally kicks off in a hazily-described London, with a cast of characters who are all Brits.
Then, as the story evolves, the cast travels to rural Japan where the second half of the book takes place. The plot dictated this setting very firmly. I’d go so far as to say it wouldn’t work anywhere else.
Although I’ve written the book in third person and it is more of an ensemble piece than previous books, it still features a strong female main protagonist, Jude, and I spend a good deal of time inside her head. I really needed to keep her as a Brit so her thought processes and speech patterns came more naturally to me.
Another of the cast is an academic type, Christopher, and he’s another character I can’t see as anything other than a rather stuffy and pedantic Brit but of great intellect and highly developed powers of reasoning.
The other players are far more flexible in their backgrounds. By that I don’t mean they are not fully-formed - I hope! But rather that their attitudes have been shaped by their upbringing and the strata of society in which they find themselves - the student who dropped out of his studies to look after his disturbed twin sister. The determined law enforcement officer who suspects her gay relationship is thwarting her career.
A couple of my early test readers commented about the lack of detailed description in the early scenes, and I now realise it’s because they really cry out to be somewhere else.
Somewhere like New York, for example, where there are plenty of deserted parks for me to set the initial part of the story and the bustle of the city is good camouflage for whatever evils might be lurking beneath.
And the national law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, give me far better scope for a character to keep tabs on crimes happening around the country.
So, at the moment I’m working through the typescript and shifting scenes, rewriting backstory and altering dialogue where necessary. And as I’m doing it the story is starting to gain some life as well as efficiency.
I cannot deny that it’s a lot of work for something that might, or might not, appeal to - or even be noticed by - readers.
But it feels better to me. More complete, more grounded in a certain amount of reality, however strange that sounds. So, I’ll keep going to the end and see what happens. This is my first foray into the world of the supernatural, and as well as having no vampires, a final word to reassure - or disappoint you - there are no werewolves or zombies either.
This week’s Word of the Week is Stygian which means excessively dark or gloomy, having its roots in the Greek stygios and relating to the River Styx, the main river of Hades, the underworld, in Greek mythology, which the dead had to cross, hence the practice of putting a coin in the mouth of the dead as fare to Charon, the boatman.