Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Story of “A Light Shining” – Part 2

So I had a contract for what became A Light Shining from the publisher, but I hadn’t signed it. The manuscript was in the hands of both a reader and the editor. Early reactions seemed positive.

Then the reports came back.

Suggestions for wholesale cuts.

Too much focus in the first section on “the warehouse kids.”

Too much focus in the second section on, well, just about everything in the second section.

The suspense ended too far from the end of the manuscript.

The whole last section could be cut.

I set the whole thing aside. That I hadn’t signed the contract I saw as a good thing, because if I accepted the suggestions, what would be left was a longish novella.

For the next two months, I came to accept the fact that A Light Shining wasn’t going to be published. I was discouraged, tense, irritable and upset.

The one thing that stayed in my head was the suggestion by the editor for a new character, to help carry the suspense through to the end of the story. In August, I wrote a new first chapter, and posted it on this blog – essentially to test the reaction. The responses suggested I was on to something, although a few people said they were rather “creeped out.” Which I took as a good thing – that was the whole intent.

It was at that point that I signed the publisher’s contract.

So the new character was born. I started thinking about how to integrate him into the story. We went to London on vacation, and the manuscript (and my laptop) came with me. Getting away proved to be the best thing I could have done. I did spend some time working on the story in London, but not a lot. I spent more time reading the existing manuscript, deciding what to cut and what to add, and where to place my new character. I didn’t give him a name, because I wanted to come up with exactly the right one.

We returned from London, and the rewriting began in earnest. It was intense, and it happened within the space of a month. I slashed whole sections of the existing manuscript. I rewrote. I integrated. I rewrote what I had rewritten.

And then it was done. The new character still had no name. I fretted over it for a few days, and then realized he didn’t need one. In fact, the story worked better with my character remaining nameless. He had emerged as the major antagonist in the story – an antagonist that Michael and Sarah Kent-Hughes don’t even know exists until it’s too late.

The manuscript was finished. I sent it to the publisher, who accepted it, making only minor changes.

It’s a different book from the first manuscript. But it’s a better book.

8 comments:

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Since I don't do Kindle or Nook or any of those on line thingys, i am looking forward to the print version. :)

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

What you've described here, Glynn, is the toughest thing we writers have to do with our work. But, when it comes out much better than we ever expected, it's so worth it!
Blessings!

Michael Dodaro said...

Ok, I bought it, but I'm not going to start reading until I'm sure I can spare the rest of the day. Dancing Priest kept me reading to the neglect of just about everything else.

SimplyDarlene said...

Sir Glynn,

Thanks for sharing this bit of writerly background. It's encouraging.

And you are so right, the mystery man is best without a name, that way the focus is on the good that cometh.

Blessings.

Linda said...

You are brave Glynn. I'm about half way through writing my little mystery (oh the audacity) and can't begin to think how I would edit it - let alone slash and rewrite and all those courageous things you've done. I can't wait to read this new book.

S. Etole said...

Looking forward to reading this soon.

Diana said...

Whatever you did, it sure worked. And as I read the suggestions made, having read the book, I can see exactly why and how following them made this story better. GREAT work - to listen and cut has got to be so tough. I think you can very safely call yourself a novelist now. Yes, indeedy.

Louise Gallagher said...

You inspire me.