This is not the first time this has happened to me. I will be writing a story, getting in very deep with the plot, the characters and the situations, when all of a sudden the well goes dry, the story fails to proceed or worse … your wife points out some serious problems.
Such is the case of the latter when my wife read my draft of the second Zak Corbin book. The story had been buzzing around in my head for the better part of the year, and with the publication of Zak Corbin: Master of Machines, I thought I was finally equipped and ready to go write the second story. I had done everything, and continued to do everything I could to promote the first book, so in the meantime I was going to get the second one out before a big holiday trip we planned around Thanksgiving.
The first few chapters went through my wife and she found it be interesting and she instantly demanded more. So I went through with my edits to the first chapters and gave her the next huge chunk. I thought I was in the home stretch. I had written almost 70,000 words, which is the crux point of most YA books. But then my wife talked to me about the second chunk and she was not happy for me.
There were problems. Too much was going on in the story. So much was happening that character depth was suffering. Some plot revelations were too cheesy and predictable. I could tell from her explanation that this wasn’t my best stuff. Now I really put my faith in my wife’s opinion. She’s extremely good at catching typographic errors, but she’s also skilled and savvy enough to appreciate my writing. I would like to say that Zak’s intended audience are young readers, but my intentions are for people of all ages. I want everyone to get something out of my work.
So I’m faced with a fork stuck in the road. I could try to finish what I have, and it will be long ( I was nowhere near the end of the story yet), require a great deal of chopping and revising, and finish it.
Or I could stop. Take a breath. Rethink. Regroup. What was the purpose of this story? What would readers get out of it? What enjoyment would I get by writing it? So there it was plain on my face. A rewrite. I had to stop worrying about cranking out the second book and get down to reasons why I wanted to write the book. What more is there to the story of Zak Corbin? There’s plenty to tell, but good storytelling is not a button you push at a factory. You have to design it. Engineer it. Test the parts. And then let it all hang out.