Originally posted on another site on 2 January 2010.
Long ago, in a land far, far away…oh, hang on, that’s Stars Wars not Whispering Caves. Anyway, a long time ago, when I was young and unhappy I wrote a manuscript (two, in fact) that was 200,000+ words. This particular one was written as a form of escape from real life and it was a romantic fantasy in which all good things happened and all the characters were lovable and perfect. Everything was tinged in rose coloured happiness. It was beautiful, but, it wouldn’t have made a good best seller. Actually, it would have been the biggest flop in history! But I loved it.
Back then I was a closet writer, writing for my own enjoyment only. Since then things have changed. My life is no longer unhappy and I am a writer who strives for publication. I have grown in all ways, especially as a writer…yet the manuscript is still a favourite of mine.
Over the years I have tried to transform the manuscript into something other people would be willing to read, and hopefully enjoy. Yet on each occasion, my efforts were unsuccessful. I have always been the first to admit that. In the last six months, I have found myself revisiting the manuscript yet again and, this time, I believe I have the knowledge and know how to do the job properly. This time, I’m willing to give my characters flaws. I’m willing to give them real hang-ups and real problems. I’ve managed to pull myself away from them and tell a real story. A story with a plot, with conflict and emotions. At long last, I’m willing to put these characters through the wringer…and high time too.
I scraped the previous story completely, but kept the setting and the bare bones of the characters (ie their names and parts of their histories). Over the last few months I have been rebuilding the story from the ground up. The setting has been tweaked, as have the characters. A new plot is unfolding slowly. There are still a few unsure bits that I can’t fit into the puzzle all that well, but I’ll find a reason for that with time. And…to my delight…I wrote a short story which tells the events of how my people came to be in the world I’ve created. Everyone were given names and backgrounds and the setting was blended especially well (if I do say so myself) into our own history. I wrote this backstory in the form of a journal written by the main character, in first person. This allowed me to explore reasons and methods for what was happening. By the end of the short story, I felt I had a solid background for Whispering Caves. Almost none of this information will be included in the manuscript, but it’s important I know how things started, where names came from, why some traditions were kept and others discarded. The result is that I have a firm foundation to build the story upon now and that makes me feel very confident that this time I’ll get it right.