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Beginnings can be so hard to master!

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I was busy revising two other novels until fairly recently and dug into my 2010 NaNo novel as usual...and soon discovered that I had started it in the wrong place.  I had some info dump areas of backstory that would be better shown, and didn't establish what normal (or at least semi-normal) life was like before the MCs world undergoes huge changes.  At first, I wasn't sure where to start the novel.  I played with backing it up a day or two, but it wasn't enough.  I did total rewrites of the beginning over and over again.  It was like ramming into a brick wall.  But slowly, a couple bricks loosened, until a few rays of light peeked through.  

After several major rewrites, I put my MG aside for a bit and concentrated on my picture books.  It was the perfect timing, because I had some huge breakthroughs using new information I learned at the Picture Book Intensive in Orlando.  I interviewed the main characters of seven of my strongest picture books, added some extra word play, and tightened them up as much as possible.  It feels great to have so many ready (or almost ready) to submit!  I did have one favorite that looks like it didn't make the cut.  Some members of my groups love it, but the majority (including my mentor) said it was technically perfect, but they just didn't care about the main character.  Ouch!  I really do love that one, but it definitely won't be in my first or second tier of picture book manuscripts anymore.  I'll still keep my eyes open for ways to breathe new life into the character and the story.  I think it would've stung a lot more if I hadn't received raves on so many others.  My mentor always said that it's hard to write well in multiple genres and that my strength is middle-grade.  But now, she believes I'm a strong middle-grade AND picture book writer.  Yay!     

I'm slowly working on other picture books, but my main focus is back on my middle grade novel.  It looks like the time I spent away from it did the trick...I found the right place to start.  Wahoo!  The pieces are all falling into place, and it feels amazing.  I'm getting to know my characters so much better, and the beginning really does feel right.  There's a lot of work ahead of me...I have about three chapters in the newest version and will have to do a lot of rewriting and cutting to merge some of the original draft with this new and much improved one.

Beginnings are so tough to master!  I don't think you can really make them shine until you have a good handle on the rest of the manuscript (this goes for picture books as well as novels).  At least for the moment, it looks like I found the right place to start, show the humorous voice (which was hidden during a couple attempts that started during tense scenes), and give readers an idea of what the book is about.  I'm sure I'll make many changes to the entire manuscript, and I can't wait to dig deeper and make sure the heart of the story and characters shine throughout the entire novel.  I'm happy dancing that I reached this point, and can't wait to celebrate again when more pieces of the puzzle come together.  Writing a novel is a long journey, and I find that it helps to celebrate all the milestones along the way!         

    

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
gemella1
Sep. 1st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
What a great post, Mindy! It must have been so great to have your mentor say that to you! How encouraging.
mindyalyse
Sep. 2nd, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks--it really made my day! I'm so glad I held onto my favorite PB manuscripts instead of shopping them while looking for an agent. They're so much stronger now!
tracyworld
Sep. 1st, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
You're such a hard worker, Mindy. I'm in awe of you being a MG writer and PB writer! Wishing you good revision thoughts as you rework your beginning.
mindyalyse
Sep. 2nd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks so much, Tracy. :) I hope everything is going great with you and your writing.

I started off writing PBs and kind of fell into middle-grade novels by accident...and I'm so glad I did! I LOVE writing both genres.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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Mindy's head shot
mindyalyse
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.

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