I recently left a comment on Ask Allison and I mentioned my first novel, which, thankfully, will never see the light of day. I recently revisited it and was horrified that just three years ago I thought that those 300 pages of dreck were actually good. What did I learn from that first novel writing foray?
When I revisited the first part of the novel, I was embarrased by the characters’ actions, the setting, the names I had given them, the story’s theme. In other words, everything about it stank. What was wrong with it? There are too many things to list, but I what I didn’t like was the voice–too stilted, too pompous, too dry in many places, too purple and sentimental in other sections, the characters were cliches, and the point-of-view was inconsistent. I admit now, I didn’t have a clue of what I was doing.
How different is Julius from this first attempt? Worlds apart. First my narrator is the main character and it’s told from her point of view. Second, it takes place in contemporary times so the language isn’t stiff. Third, I’ve found a voice I like a lot, it flows naturally, and its more lighthearted. In some ways it’s easier to revise, and researching certain elements is fascinating. I’m having fun writing this book; whereas with the first one I was struggling with it. By the time I decided to put it away, I found everything about it annoying.
Although Julius is far from perfect, I see with each revision how the writing has improved. It has a certain quirkyness that makes it unique to me, and it works well with this story (at least I think so).
Will that quirky quality translate well to to my first novel? Is a revision possible? Nothing is ever impossible. I suppose after Julius I could revisit it, but that offbeat rhythm wouldn’t fit that storyline’s melodramatic tone
Looking back at the entire experience of writing and workshopping it, I view it now as my practice run. It was meant to be the one that I made mistakes, but it was also the one that pushed me to write better and not quit.
And on that note, Julius is waiting for scene rewrite.