Progress Report

The new ending that used to be somewhere else entirely has been grafted onto the old one,  and though it looks a little strange now (“What is that crocodile head doing on that sheep?” the observer might ask) it’s all coming together.  Once I saw the legs off the sheep, stretch it lengthways, paint the fleece brown and green, and attach an artificial croc tail made out of Naugahyde ™ it’s going to be fine.  (I’m joking.  Promise!  It’s late on Friday night after a week of working on how to do this.  When the revision’s done there will be no evidence of crocodile head, sheep, Naugahyde ™, stitches, or paint.)

I can’t be much more specific without spoilering the entire book, but I will say that Editor was 100% correct in what was wrong with the old ending.   It goes back to a fundamental of storytelling…if the story promises to be about a romance, then the end of the book has to let you know if  the partners partner or split up.  If the story promises to be about solving a mystery, then the mystery should be solved.  For very long works (more than one volume, for instance–hint, hint)  all doesn’t have to be revealed–shouldn’t be revealed–in the first volume, but the reader has to be reassured that it will be.  I know that.  But I don’t always see what I haven’t done, when I’m focused on what I have done.  Hence, editors.

Some of the week was spent actually taking a chunk from this draft and a chunk from that,  putting them in, moving them around.  Some was spent staring out the window, or up at the ceiling, and thinking.  OK, this bit is now better, what should come next?   Back up two chapters, read straight through to the…oh.  Rough spot.   Cut it out?  Sand it down?   Do that fancy woodworking thing with an angled joint?  Over and over and over again.   Interspersed with thinking about the other things that need doing in the book to make everything fit.  What if I tinkered with this?    Or that?   How can this be made clear without being too obvious?   And some–the minority part–was involved with the next book (which had already been started and had its own momentum it didn’t want interrupted) and thinking ahead to how the changes in Cold Welcome would require changes in the plan for Unnamed New Thing.

Meanwhile, spring is seriously underway here: redbuds and elbowbush and Mexican plum blooming, oaks throwing golden pollen, the little old-fashioned white iris blooming, viburnum and scarlet buckeye leafing out and showing flower buds, the yard full of birds–the winter residents fattening up for the trip north, the local residents singing nesting songs, and any day now we’ll hear the long-haul big migrants–the waterfowl and shorebirds–calling from far overhead.  Pastures showing the first hints that green might be in our future.  Luckily, I’m still down enough with the tail end of bronchitis that it’s not as hard as usual to resist the lure of spring outside.


5 thoughts on “Progress Report

  1. Elizabeth. Of course it needs to be a crock! Wasn’t there a lot of water in this story? The sheep wasn’t going to do well in all that water.

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