This week I have been very busy revising a novel for the umpteenth time. Have you ever revised a novel, several times, and tightened it up to the point where the word count wound up too low?
Well, that's what happened to me in a project completed the summer before last. I thought it was a big mistake on my part, not the revising, but with all the fluff and unnecesary stuff gone, the whole story seemed too weak. I figured at the time there was no "fire" in it like Donald Maass pointed out in The Fire in Fiction. Disgusted with myself as a writer, I shoved it in a drawer to forget about it.
This week I ran across it cleaning out old paper files. I decided to sit down and read it all the way through. Gosh, I thought, as I read. It has good characters, it has depth, it has a smoldering fire or two, it is definitely fast paced with cliff hangers, but it is just too darn short.
Then I noticed the carefully woven back story. I had worked really hard on that and had done a good job. What would happen if I turned the back story into a chapter? Not a prologue, but an actual new first chapter. I shrugged, it was worth a try.
To my utter surprise and delight, the back story took off with a life of its own. I not only have a brand new and more exciting first chapter, but also a new chapter two which leads into the former first chapter. Granted I have a lot more to do because these changes cause a domino effect, but it's working--it's growing--and I love the novel all over again! The best thing about the whole experience is the novel is getting so much better. Some mistakes are blessings in disguise.
Happy Easter to all of you!