Sunday, January 14, 2018

Is it Ever Done?

Is it Ever Done?

Writing is a satisfying occupation, be it journaling, writing poetry, short stories or novels, but is your manuscript ever done—finished—completed?

After working on The Knife for over thirty years, and most recently, seriously for three years, I believed it was finished. It had been through two different writing critique groups and two beta readers. One gave a hearty thumbs up. Then I waited for the other reader’s comments.

Aargh! After all my careful editing and rewriting, Beta #2 found two serious plot errors that skipped right by everyone else. Maybe that’s a good thing. If I’d sent it to the agent, would he also have not noticed the flaw? But once it was pointed out to me it stood out like an emergency flare on a dark night.

The story starts with a murder and, as it moves along, we have at least five suspects plus a couple of red herrings. The ending took everyone by surprise (as I’d hoped it would), yet they could go back and see the clues along the way.

In the denouement, our villain is confronted by several people, some of whom were suspects. Two of them are shocked to learn that person is the killer. Unfortunately, the way I wrote the story, they should have known all along. I’m glad no one else caught that flaw, but now that I know it’s there, I have to go back and write ending number four, making sure it is clear who knew what, when.

I’m thinking Beta Reader #2 ought to be on the political investigation committees. This is a person who knows how to detect a flaw in a story and root out conflicting stories.

Veronica Helen Hart is the author of the Blender Series at Champagne Book Group, as well as Silent Autumn from the same publisher. Her other books are historic novels about women striving to overcome serious odds. She is currently rewriting the ending to The Knife, and working on a novella about a young man returning home after being captive in North Korea for twenty years. This story revolves around the family dynamics as affected by his disappearance and reappearance.

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