Perhaps ‘agonise’ is too strong a word.
You see, I’ve gone back to work on the fifth draft of The Midnight Man, a novel I need to get right. I haven’t been this obsessed with perfection since my first book.
It’s currently novella length and tells the story of Stan, a middle aged man in an unhappy relationship who meets the man of his dreams, literally in his dreams. This dream man is Asher, a twenty-one year old who gives Stan the chance to re-experience his youth by allowing him to be five years younger with each encounter.
I’ve been going through it working out where extra scenes should go and how they’ll affect the current scenes, so that I’ll end up with a healthy novel length story.
One problem is sex.
There is only one sex scene in the book and it’s in the first chapter. It’s important as it paints a picture of Stan’s unhappiness with his partner. The fact that it’s in the part of the book that’s previewed by potential readers on online book stores means the story could be mistaken for erotica. So the people it’s aimed at won’t read it and the one’s that’ll buy it will think there’s more sex coming up.
My fix to this problem will be to tone down the sex in the scene and juxtaposition it with another couple who are already in that chapter. The chapter begins at a gay disco. The new version will show both couples going to their homes after their night out to highlight the very different relationships they have.
I found another fix through a novel I read recently.
While we discover things about Stan’s earlier life through his dreams, the story is linear. I recently read a book that tells the protagonist’s back story throughout, and although I won’t do this directly, my novel already has Asher and Stan watching some aspects of Stan’s earlier life within the dreams. I want to explore how Stan’s relationship soured in similar scenes.
Rereading this manuscript, I realise I may have made a premature submission.
I was in a rush to submit it to a larger publisher so instead of my usual three month wait before editing and working on my next draft, I fast tracked my process by giving it to two beta readers. Revisiting it now shows me it wasn’t ready.
This next draft will be its second last, or maybe its third last. There are some strong secondary characters in this story and its the first time I’ve written in third-person. It’s also darker than my other works. Plus, it took me a year to start on it after the idea first came to me.
So this novel and I have history. Now it’s time to nurture it into maturity.
Moon Image – By Mhy, courtesy of Pixelbay. Night Author Image – By Comfreak, courtesy of Pixelbay.