Saturday, December 8, 2012

What I learned

I sincerely thank all of you who read, and those who commented on, the novella, “Bruce and Crazy Jane”, which I posted online. As I said at the outset, it was basically a first draft and now, to continue to involve you in the creative process, here is what I learned from the experience and from your comments.
1) The foreword, where the teen aged girl goes to interview her grandfather in the nursing home, is gone. It created problems with voice (the one telling the story) and it created expectations which weren’t fulfilled – the  old man is supposed to be speaking to his granddaughter, but there is no place in the story where he actually speaks to her or where she speaks to him. It wasn’t a strong enough to element to make me adjust the story to give her places to speak. I don't know at this point whether the granddaughter will come into the picture at all. I have an idea of a new introductory chapter that involves her, but it's a totally different context for her and I'm not sure how it will play out. My vision for the entire story has shifted and firmed up considerably. I’ll get to that below.

2) According to your comments, the first chapter has too much introductory material and takes too long to get to the story. My intent, of course, was to introduce Billy McCaskill and put him in his historical context, but some of you thought that took too long, so the first chapter will be edited to cut out some of that material. If any of the excised material has value, it will appear somewhere else in the story.
3) There is not much chance that the title, “Memories and Other Afflictions”, will remain. It’s a working title and it’s common for a book to go through one or more working titles before the ‘right’ one is found. I don’t know what the title will be, but right now I’m leaning toward “Beautiful Lies”.

My vision: In my mind I see Billy McCaskill’s story spanning the past seven decades of American history. I see Billy, that simple, unassuming southern boy we just met, as being an eye-witness to some of that history. I see a work of 1000-1500 pages. Yeah, that would be a monstrous book, but I see the story being told in small segments – one novella at a time. A part of me sees Billy as a dark character, a user and a manipulator who uses people to advance his own agenda (which is so unlike any real people we know), but I’m not sure how dark he will be when the stories tell themselves. I mean, he obviously has a soft spot for the weak and the poor, so he can’t be all bad.
Okay. Those are my thoughts at this point. I would be glad to read your comments in regards to this or to any part of the story.

Once again, thanks for reading. That’s why writers write.

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