I’m rewriting a novel! Determined to make good progress after a quiet 2023, I have revisited my novel and already made some big decisions.
The original concept was a story contained within 12 songs. I have discussed this novel here before. My protagonist plays a CD, and the story plays out through the memories that the music prompts. I liked the idea a lot. Partly because I had finally found a vehicle to express what music meant to me – deep-rooted memories contained within notes and melodies.
But after writing the story over a couple of years, I’m not sure it was the right idea for a novel. There were a few minor issues I could have worked out, but one major: the novel built to an anti-climax. I could only really move backwards in the story. It could only ever build up to the moment my protagonist starts playing the album’s first track. To tell the story beyond the final track would have broken the concept because it would have taken place outside the songs. An example of killing your darlings.
I am now rewriting the story so that only the first part of the novel takes place while my character listens to the music. This has allowed me more freedom to explore forward movement with the plot and write more sentences in the moment instead of in reflection. I believe this will be more captivating to the audience. There are some occasions when constant reflection is engaging, but most of the time, the reader prefers feeling as though they are present with the story.
I also decided to move the story to 3rd person. I chose the ‘limited’ 3rd person point of view rather than ‘objective’ or ‘omniscient’, focusing on my protagonist rather than exploring the minds and sharing the thought processes of every character in my story, Dostoevsky style. The story remains tied to my protagonist’s emotions, but I now have much more freedom. I’m also more comfortable with the 3rd person.
I understand that some believe rewriting a novel is an exercise in futility, but surely there are some cases when this is not true, especially when the writer is making such big changes to the style and form.
I’ll let you know how it turns out!