Starting out on the rewrite of Stolen Lives

I have written three Danny Sanchez novels now: Stolen Lives (completed summer 2012), Scarecrow (completed spring 2013) and Broken Arrow (completed autumn 2014). Stolen Lives was an important book for me, as it got me my literary agent and earned me my first money from novel-writing when the translation rights sold in Germany to Goldmann. Despite the German publisher’s belief in the book, though, I was unable to secure a deal with a British publisher, and so Stolen Lives has been shelved for nearly two-and-a-half years.

Scarecrow

In December 2014, Goldmann decided they wanted to push ahead with the publication of Stolen Lives. During the Christmas period, I reread Stolen Lives for the first time and quickly realised I could not allow the book to be published in its current format, as the writing style is noticeably inferior to that used in my published works. I have now decided to completely rewrite Stolen Lives and have agreed to submit a new draft to Goldmann by July 2015. This blog will follow my progress as I move Stolen Lives towards a revised draft that (hopefully) will match the standard set by my first two novels.

One of the first problems I need to address is the novel’s linear nature. Like most first time writers, I stuck to a very simplistic this-happens-and-then-this-happens-and-then-this-happens type of structure when I wrote the first draft of Stolen Lives, all of which was told from a single character’s perspective, that of the protagonist, Danny Sanchez. Not only is this type of structure boring for the reader, it is markedly different to the style I have developed in my current novel, Werewolf, which follows a single story told through the eyes of three different characters. I have decided to adopt a similar narrative structure for the rewrite of Stolen Lives.

I started work last week by going through the current 85,000 word draft of Stolen Lives and listing every chapter in the book. StructureThis will come in handy later on, as I intend to salvage as much of the initial draft as I can. Today, I will go through this list without looking at the main body of text, wih the aim of seeing if I can remember how each chapter contributes to moving the main story forward. If I find myself unable to remember what the relevant plot point is in a particular chapter, I will earmark it for removal or reassignment. As a writer, I try to structure each chapter of my books around the introduction of a single important plot point. This is why the chapters in my novels tend to be fairly short, as once I have decided what this single plot point is, I abridge or excise everything that is not directly relevant – which, at the time of doing it, feels as painful as pulling my own teeth with pliers, but is essential to achieving the crisp, fast-moving prose style to which I aspire.

I will try to post on this thread two or three times a week with updates as to how I am getting on and comments on the process of writing a novel, so please feel free to follow me if the subject interests you.

All the best.

Matthew

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