Turn Back Time

Friday night my friend Doris Dumrauf and I ventured through a southwestern Pennsylvania snow storm (the kind that makes folks rush to the grocery stores to stock up on toilet paper) to attend a workshop by Hallie Ephron presented by my Sisters in Crime chapter. I admit some guilt on not helping out enough with preparations for the workshop, but after spending eight-hour days preparing for the Pennwriters Conference, I was drained of any event-planning brain cells. My only sense of redemption comes from the fact that I did use my Pennwriters mailing lists to promote the workshop.

Hallie and the majority of the registrants made it to the Chatham University campus and the workshop was fabulous. I’d heard Hallie teach before and knew the evening would be worth the voyage. I was right. She gave me much food for thought regarding my current work in progress.

Why is it that you can hear the same criticism and advice on your work and completely ignore it until you hear it put a specific way from a specific person? Then it becomes a major aha! moment. Such is the case with a couple of items Hallie mentioned in her presentation.

Basically, I now must go back to square one and rewrite not only my first chapter (or two), but also two of the major characters.

I knew the first chapter needed rewritten. I had a couple dozen people tell me there are too many characters and the setting is too busy and there is too much information (NOT backstory. I already know better than that). But somehow, Hallie not only reminded me of those facts (facts that I had been conveniently ignoring), but also showed me some vital errors of my planning.

While I’m revamping that opening chapter, I might as well go back and revamp two characters. They are both based on real people and I haven’t made a huge effort to disguise them. Bad Bad Bad Bad. Can you say “lawsuit.” The inciting incident for the story is strongly based on a real event. The REST of the story is completely fictional, but there is too much potential for someone to recognize the event and assume the rest might have some truth to it, too.

Therefore, I must turn back time and rewrite history. Repaint those real characters so that no one will recognize them.

As exhausting as this all seems right now, I strongly suspect the end result will be a stronger opening and as stronger story. But the very thought of going back to SQUARE ONE is intimidating and frustrating.

On a brighter note, much of what Hallie said confirmed the parts of my story that are GOOD. I think I’m heading in the right direction.

I guess overall I’m happy. At least it’s just the beginning that needs to be redone and not the entire book. Yes, THAT is a relief.

By the way, Hallie Ephron is also one of my absolute favorite authors. Her new novel, Never Tell a Lie is available now. Click here to order your copy.


Sue D. said…
I wasn't able to find a place to send you a message privately so thought I would here on this thread since you mentioned the Pennwriter's Conf.

I am attempting to find someone to attend with me so that we can share a room and I won't have to go by myself. My collaborator just had the loss of her husband and she is the one I really want to go with so won't know until later this month if I will be going. I hope I can. Just wanted to let you know.

author of Life is Like Making Chocolate Chip Cookies

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