Major reconstruction: completed.
First Times and Second Chances began as a novel about a fifteen–year-old girl who goes to a summer camp. I first wrote it when I was 14 or 15. It was, in some ways, my fantasy of a summer of freedom and a gorgeous boy who found me irresistible. The camp I created was devoid of structure or adult supervision and was completely unrealistic. Still the bones were good.
About nine years ago I began rewriting it as an adventure camp for teens: more structure, more realistic – but still, it didn’t work. The setting was too … blah. The execution too… pedestrian.
Seven years ago I had an epiphany: I love France. I know France. I speak French. I have a unique skill set and the experience of attending not one but two French immersion programs in France. Why not change the setting? Et voila, I decided to send Jenni to Antibes.
Thus began a third major overhaul of this book. One that involved killing so many darlings. Beloved characters – excised. Plot developments, dialogue exchanges, and scenes I once was once married to ending in divorce. I tore apart my book. Scene by scene. Paragraph by paragraph. Word by word. The essence and the main plot line remained, but everything else was reborn as something new.
I’ve been buried in my latest draft since September, when I committed to writing at least an hour each day. I threw myself, heart and soul, into finding Jenni’s story. I needed it, too. These last few years, I’ve desperately needed an escape; a beach read that allowed me to escape reality.
I wrote. I rewrote. I analyzed on a macro-level: Does each scene move the plot forward? Does my main character change? Does she have a goal in each scene? Does the tension rise? Does it all make sense? I analyzed on a micro-level: searching for words and phrases I tend to use as crutches or that might be my own idiosyncrasies that would annoy my readers.
And now – I have a book. A book I’m excited about. A book an agent might be (fingers and toes crossed) excited about.
Next steps: Probably another revision – hopefully not a huge one. Then – let the agent search begin!