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.
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.