First of all, let me explain: Nine Years Away is the story I wrote for #NaNoWriMo2016. I took several breaks from working on the revisions because of other projects that took greater priority over this one. After a month of not drafting anything, however, I finally went over the beta reader notes for this book in preparation for the revisions on the story.
One of the reasons why I procrastinated over this story was that the plotting went out of control; what had started as a romantic comedy had turned into a psychological thriller. Which wouldn’t have been so bad, if it weren’t for the fact that I had written this purposely as a romance and I wasn’t confident in my abilities to integrate the suspense with the romance without skimping on one over the other.
Between reading craft books and working on the projects that I did before this story, however, I learned that the most crucial thing about a romance is the relationship between the two leads; any subplot must serve the relationship in itself. That meant I had to re-focus my efforts on building the romance before working in the suspenseful elements. It was like weaving a basket; everything was interrelated, but it all came back to having a good foundation for the other elements to circle around.
Instead of redoing the outline right away, I asked myself why I was writing the story and what were the elements that I saw as crucial. That meant exploring conflicts, premises, and backstories. I wrote everything down in a story bible (housed in a cute notebook that I’d bought from the stationery store) and compared it to the existing outline.
Then the work started, and it went by faster than I had originally planned. Not to say that it was easy–I cut out extraneous scenes and added more that served the purpose of the story better–but having a notebook to write everything down gave me a chance to get organized as much as possible. No more bouncing back and forth between papers; most of my relevant notes could be referenced directly from the story bible itself.
Currently Nine Years Away is being reviewed by my critique partners in anticipation of the editor rounds, but I’ve decided to do an entire series devoted to the revisions that I’ve performed on the book in terms of the existing story elements. Part 2 (October 8) will concentrate on characterization and Part 3 (October 15) will focus on plot. I hope you stick around for the series!