After submitting ‘Irish Inheritance’ at the beginning of last week, I thought I might take a week off writing, after spending 9 months writing and editing. However, I couldn’t resist taking a peek at ‘Different Worlds’, the novel I've abandoned twice, once when I got to Chapter 13, the second time when I got to Chapter 15. I started reading Chapter 1 again and – you’ve guessed it – that was the end of my ‘week off’, because I immediately started revising it.
I’ve had some time to think about why this novel didn’t seem to be working, and I think I’ve realised the reason.
The hero and heroine each have their own reasons for not wanting to become involved in another relationship, following the unhappy endings of their previous relationships (a couple of years prior to the start of this story). Obviously I can’t have them immediately forgetting their past experiences once they meet, but at the same time, I can’t have endless inner agonising by either of them, as this becomes repetitive (and boring) for the reader. So I was faced with a dilemma. It was taking too long for them to ‘get together’ – but speeding up the ‘falling in love’ process was unrealistic.
Another problem was that the heroine was only supposed to be in the Lake District (where the hero lives) for a couple of weeks, and was then going home to London - hence the title, 'Different Worlds'. In my original drafts, I invented two different scenarios as reasons for her to stay in the Lake District, and it was at this point that the story (in both versions) ground to a standstill. It was still too soon for them to accept a new love in their lives, and also there seemed to be no major turning point that would make them realise it was time to move on from their past experiences.
As you know, I’m basically a pantser, so all this is based on my ‘gut feeling’ about the way the story was going, rather than on any plot outline. I have a vague idea in my mind of how the story is eventually going to work out, but now I need to sort out the order of events, and this is the point at which I need to haul my characters back from the side roads they have taken me down. Maybe I’ll be able to use some of the ‘dumped’ events and scenes in a different novel sometime.
So far, I’ve combined Chapters 1 and 2 into one chapter (with less internal dialogue), and tidied up and slightly revised a few more chapters. Now, at Chapter 9, I’m diverging from the original drafts, and inserting an event that was in Chapter 13 in the 2nd draft.
The other big change will come when I take the heroine back to London (for a short time) much sooner than in the first two drafts. The idea of doing that came in one of those blinding flashes of inspiration!
I’ll see how it goes now – and hope I don’t get stuck on Chapter 13 or 15 again!