My one great writing secret that took me two decades to learn:

Middlehill book 1: Changeling got off to the editor tonight. I got it back with an already tight turn around, and then the next day, Trout got sick. The idea of sorting through over 2000 comments on a 126,000 word manuscript in ten days while dealing with the loss of the cat that inspired the main character’s younger brother was immensely challenging, but I got it in 33 minutes late. So really, if I lived in BC it would still be early.

I managed to not rewrite half of it. I think I contained myself to rewriting only about a third of it, but the book itself had been through so many rewrites before I sent it off to publication that only the very best of the original draft poked through. That being said, this book has the most bits of it from the original draft poking through than anything I’ve done since 2012.

If I had one lesson I could teach, it would be this: Do not fall in love with your first draft. If the first way you said it is the best way you can say it, you’re either already a bestselling novelist who instinctively knows how to write compelling, interesting characters from the get-go or you’re selling the story short. No matter how much you preplan, the characters you are writing about in chapter one are mere ghosts of the fleshed out characters they are going to be when you finish following them for 100,000 words.

Go back to the beginning and put all that you know to be true about your characters, minus their one great revelation that changes them from the start of the book. If that does not change the microtension that drives your characters into overcoming the conflict in your book to the point where you can’t salvage what you’ve written and it has to be redone, your characters either haven’t grown enough from the start of the book or they don’t have enough challenges in the story for them to overcome.

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