As of now, I have in circulation five Rebecca Series action/mystery novels for adults (print and electronic), and, in addition, two for young adults. Since shortly after release of the fifth Rebecca story, titled A Fearful Thing, I have been working on the sixth, which is still unnamed.
And I’m in no hurry to select its title. (I’ll need to know more about it first.)
Sometimes I’m asked how far along I am with these stories as they are in process, and the answer sometimes is elusive. That is especially the case with the current novel, which I’m temporarily calling Rebecca Six
My uncertainty about what answer to give to the question, "How far along are you," is a result of my having, until the last few days, been unsatisfied with the "launch" section. You know… the opening pages/chapters. I’ve always considered the opening of a book to have special importance for prospective readers. The opening needs to "grab" the reader… offer something intriguing… suggest the promise of something fast-paced and "hard to put down."
That’s an interesting challenge for an author. You want readers to be hooked immediately, and yet without just inventing something sensationalistic that will be inconsistent with what is coming later.
Months ago, I "finished" the first chapter – about 25 manuscript pages – and gave them to Linda to read. She had a few suggestions, but thought the pages worked okay, though she did not seem particularly excited. As I continued to think about those pages, however, I became increasingly dissatisfied.
First, I became gradually aware that the violence presented early in Rebecca Six was not the Rebecca Series "style" of violence. In the Rebecca books, there is the occasional death, but such events are rare, and some books in the series have nothing of the sort. Yet, in my early draft of Rebecca Six, there were two murders in the first few pages. I realized that I’d been influenced by a series of detective stories I’d been reading, and had slipped into that "style" of violence without even realizing it.
Second, the more I considered the overall feel of the launch, the less satisfied I became with the general effectiveness and impact of the opening. It seemed that it would just be too easy to stop reading before getting to the meat of the story.
So, I experienced the unusual, for me, rewriting experience of retaining much that I had written thus far, and yet going back and crafting, first, one new launch… then, still not satisfied… writing a second new launch… then, STILL not satisfied, yet another new launch. And, since I was not throwing anything away, but, rather, simply moving text "down" as each set of new launch pages was inserted, I needed repeatedly to do a thorough self editing of every single sentence that I had previously written.
You can’t change an opening section without that new opening causing ripple effects throughout every other page you have previously written. Very tedious and time consuming, but certainly worth it to achieve a strong launch and a consistent storyline thereafter.
Well… here are the revised-revised-revised-revised opening sentences (which represent just a fraction of the overall launch sections):
Rebecca Clark gripped the 12-inch Barrington Swords throwing knife and focused her stunning gray eyes on the target 60 feet away. The circular, five foot, paper and straw target mounted on the far wall of her basement workout center seemed ridiculously small from that distance.
Things are going to move along nicely now.