Doing it all backwards

I often wonder if there really aren’t innumerable ways to create a novel, or a book series. I hope so, because I seem to be going about it in a very backwards way!

The ‘main event,’ which I hope is finished, was a year in its creation, and then came the extensive editing. So far so predictable, right? Then the trawl of agents, with nary a nibble. Again, we could have told you so. The attempt to understand the morass of self-publishing on the big platforms (Amazon/Kindle/Audible) and to create an appropriate promotions strategy. Sure.

So a set-to on the Prequel, with target dates for each stage. Here’s where the backwards approach crept in, I think. Hiving off bits from the main event, the parts of Biome NE47 that detracted from its core story, the Prequel started its life on the cutting room floor. And then I’ve just followed my nose, with an eye to synching seamlessly with the main event.

So the Prequel has followed the early events in the life of one community after its bubble biome sequestration, and with a bit of finessing, I think I’ve got a story arc consolidated now for the final two chapters. But the characters! So unfleshed! The setting. So poverty-stricken in its depiction. Motivations? Ambitions? Hopes and dreams? Inner angst? Jealousies and envy? Bitterness?Everything you might want to know about, in a novel, feels lacking!

And then the technique: too much ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing.’ Among other very valid critiques. But backwards or not, my ambition (or, let’s say, the thing I have to do) is to get the story down, consolidated, and then to return to the characters, bring them to life, help them to sing their own songs.

Perhaps nowhere more so than in a village, it’s characters that create vibrancy, so by the time I’ve figured out the ‘story’ they inhabit, I hope that I shall know them better too. And then, such fun to help them reveal themselves. And on the way, a fair wallop of editing finessing will help too.

Yup, moving forward, backwards.

By Larry Winger

Retired scientist, devoted diarist (, community-minded aspirant novelist, I've lived on a smallholding in the East Allen Valley for the past 30 years, delighting in watching our family grow up, in experiencing the development of our grandsons, and in taking care of our small flock of chickens and garden.

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