My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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the glamourous writing life

The finish line was in sight this afternoon, at least, the first of a few finish lines, I thought, as I got the manuscript ready to go out to some chosen readers. I had even called RePrint to ask about emailing a large document, to get copies printed tomorrow. I printed one out for myself last night, after a last revision on the screen, and spent much of today reading and revising the hard copy. Almost done. Just have to enter those revisions and …

And dear Wayson called. When he heard what I was doing, he offered to come over and read the first 25 pages. Lucky me.

The good news – “This bit is terrific,” he said.
The bad news – The terrific bit was on page 22, way into the action, and that’s where he thought the book should start.
“The opening scene you have now,” he said, “is just you setting things up. It’s too slow. It’s dull. You need to pull us right in here, where the writing is alive.”

Jump right into the action is what I tell my students, of course, but … wait a minute. I need this first scene, I said, to establish the antagonist. Readers said of earlier drafts that there was no antagonist, no narrative tension. In fact, Mr. Choy was one of them. So the opening scene is to establish the narrative tension.

Not needed. We need to connect to the narrator first, he said, get inside her, and then discover the antagonist. Otherwise, you’re giving it all away in the first scene.
Lucky me.

Structure structure structure. Writing is easy, comparatively. Structure is really hard. How to set it up so it flows and makes sense and supports what you want to say and where you want to go … hard. And where it starts is vital. A wrong start, and the whole thing will hang wrongly.

The change is more or less done, I think – managed to rearrange, do some rewriting. I need to sleep on it, read it fresh tomorrow, see if he’s right. I think he is, or I wouldn’t have done all that. So we won’t be printing yet. I’ve done nothing all day except this and meals and a nice walk to the farm. Did nothing all weekend except this – in fact, on the weekend, I didn’t talk to anyone for two days except a friend I ran into at the market on Saturday, who’s now on the list of manuscript readers. On Sunday, I didn’t open my mouth once, not even on the phone. Just sat here.

And tomorrow, will be sitting here some more.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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