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New Beginnings

June 13, 2007

Having already rewritten the opening sections of the novel once, I have decided to rewrite them a second time.


Quite simply, because I am not happy with the first rewrite.  Granted, I think it is stronger than the original opening, if only for the fact that it shifts perspectives to the main character, seventeen-year-old Publius Cornelius Scipio.  The original draft opened through the eyes of his uncle, Gnaeus Scipio, which may have worked had I decided to keep the storyline of his Spanish campaigns in the book.  Since I have not, it makes little sense to introduce him as a perspective character, only to have him fall by the wayside after Chapter I.

My problems with the rewrite are more structural than anything else.  A quick read-through revealed – to me at least – a halting and choppy flow.  Considering that the novel’s chances of publication will likely live or die on the strength of the first few chapters, such a weak opening is simple inexcusable.  And so, it’s back to the drawing board.  Or, rather, back to the pen and spiral notebook.

My new plan is to pedal back in time by about five days, and introduce Scipio as the Roman fleet prepares to depart Pisa, bound for Spain.  Doing so allows me to more naturally introduce his character as well as the overall situation.  I’ve also mapped out the next few sessions so that they will avoid a few of the weaker choices I made for the first rewrite (too much focus on Scipio’s interest in Greek literature, a silly and contrived device for getting the fleet to put to shore along the Rhone delta, etc).

Once these rewrites are in the bag, so to speak, it’s on to rewrites for the opening sections of Chapter V.  For some unknown reason, I abandoned by my third-person, perspective-character narration in the chaper’s first two sections, opting instead for correspondence followed by exposition.  Rewriting the covered events from the perspective of certain characters will certainly add to the page count (two sections will become eight), but I feel they will make the chapter stronger overall.

Once those are completed, it will be time for me to make a decision as to whether I continue editing the entire book, or pull back and start querying agents.  Unfortunately, the agents themselves are of little help.  Some ask for sample chapters, others request that you have a finished and edited manuscript before contacting them.  Given that I still have a job and a wife, and thus limited time to put toward editing, I’m tempted to finish the editing first.  Then again, I may be leaning that way as a means of putting off the writing of a query letter and story synopsis, both of which fill me with a far greater sense of dread.  After all, they, not the novel itself, will be what gets my foot in the door.

One thing I can state for certain – I wish I had the means to devote myself to this full-time.

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