I still haven’t started any actual rewriting on Cady and Lock. I did have a brief temptation to start another story in the series, but I resisted, just wrote notes and filed them away instead!
I am trying to work out what needs fixing with this story, how it can be made stronger and better and especially more emotionally satisfying, before I dive into edits. I know I need to dig right down deep to the fundamentals of character and conflict and get that right before I do anything. I want everything in the story to be driven by who the characters are and what they need.
I’ve spent today getting to know my characters better, working on some questions about them and what they want and how the other person affects that. I realise my first draft feels a bit directionless, because no-one seems to have clear goals, they just go from one thing happening to another thing happening to another- it’s all reaction. I need to focus on that in the rewrite- making sure the character’s initial goals are clear and that in each scene the POV character has a goal, something they are trying to make happen. That will make the characters stronger and the story feel more purposeful. It will also feed into the conflict more. There is no conflict if no-one wants anything!
Doing a list of 20 Goals for each character was fun and told me some things I didn’t know. By the time I got to the end I was right down deep in the hidden emotional needs that Cady and Lock wouldn’t admit to themselves, let alone anyone else. That made me realise that a weakness in the story is that the characters are too self-aware. I have Cady doing something and Lock thinking, “This makes me feel rejected, just like when my father left when I was a kid.”
Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but close!
Real people (maybe especially men?) aren’t so aware of their issues and relationship blocks, otherwise they’d do something about them. Knowledge of what they are really feeling and why the other person is triggering them so badly needs to come gradually, in a dawning self-awareness, initial resistance to changing their beliefs, maybe small superficial changes that don’t affect their deepest held self-beliefs, up until the dramatic moment of “change or lose everything” of the Black Moment.
Next step will be storyboarding the scenes as I have them in first draft, and figuring out what should and shouldn’t be there. Some scenes can be kept but tweaked to make them better. Some scenes will need to be rewritten. Some scenes that are pretty but aren’t earning their keep may need to go entirely and be replaced with better ones. The story will be essentially the same, but I have plenty of ideas to make it stronger, more focused, more emotional, more dramatic. Hopefully, more Page Turning Quality to make it interesting for the reader!