writing a novel – still editing
Working Title: Saving the Landing Church
Setting: a writers’ retreat, including an abandoned church
Characters: main character Sadie, a writer; her husband Tom; people from the community
Plot: the story of how Sadie tries to win over a community in order to preserve an abandoned church
I am on Draft #7 of my novel. In this draft I am going chapter by chapter through the whole novel to look for opportunities for improvement:
- I need to make sure I am showing, not telling. Instead of telling the reader that Sadie is afraid, I try to show the reader her fear, by writing about her accelerated heart rate, her dry throat, how her shoes seem stuck to the floor, and so on.
- I need to be sure I not only describe how the scene looks, but also include the smells, the sounds and the tactile experiences.
- I am still looking for words I repeat in consecutive lines, a hard-to-break habit of mine …
One of the tools I have constructed to help me with fine edits is a chart about the characters. I have character sketches (in both words and drawings) for each person in my novel, but it is tedious to refer to these over and over. So, I constructed a table with the important details – how old the person is, what they look like, and so on.
Especially helpful is a list of the words he or she uses. For example, Sadie says ‘dinner’ for the six o’clock meal. Her husband says ‘supper’. Sadie uses the word ‘graveyard’, while most of the local people say ‘cemetery’.
I have 44 characters in my book, including both major, minor and dead characters. This is probably too many, but it is a book about a community. Here is my table for a few of my characters:
|Character||Occupation||Nickname||Characteristics||Age in 2005||Words they use|
|Sarah Hatheway||writer||Sadie||Plain, thin, oval face, short brown hair||42||Bed and Breakfast; silly; retreaters; dinner; graveyard|
|Tom Hatheway||welder||Sadie’s husband; strong, short grey hair, pale||48||B & B; hey girl; clients; supper; graveyard|
|Oliver Johnston||minister||42||graveyard; supper|
|Emma Southkind||homemaker||Keeps a journal; solid; yellow purse; curly grey hair, gentle||59||cemetery; supper|
|Mark Southkind||retired train conductor||60||cemetery|
|Katherine Birch||writing coach||Kitty||Language a bit coarse||62||graveyard; dinner|
|Alexandra Connelly||student||Tall; long brown hair||16||supper|
|Joe Connelly||accountant||Alexandra’s dad; widowed; tall||45||graveyard|