Completing an Unfinished Novel Masterpiece, 24 Years Later
Probably true that most books should honor the word counts for published novels, and I think my Silver Skies may be my only novel that goes past the recommended word count, but then it’s ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT, that is, if I write it like I did in the 1990s. I expect the finished book to be around 225,000 words. I’m currently rereading my huge outline that I wrote in the 1990s, to get back into how I approached the writing of this book. My mindset as I wrote it, was totally writing professional – going to the trouble to visit synagogues, take notes on places I visited for setting, and reading a vast volume of material for research. I also gave myself the equivalent of a M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Since the last third of the book, which I haven’t written, takes place in Israel and Petra, Jordan, I am currently doing a lot of research, including reading huge books on Jewish history and culture, as this is necessary to make the last third believable. I wasn’t raised in Judaism, so I need to do this. I found a gem of a YouTube channel where the traveler specializes in exploring the every day life, culture and history of people in places where he travels. I definitely cannot afford to go to Israel and Jordan for research, so this is a great help. This YouTube commentator is also very descriptive in his videos, going to the trouble to talk about smells, sounds, temperatures, etc.
I will be incorporating some new stuff I’ve learned since 1996, especially principles from Save The Cat Writes a Novel.
Also, in order not to ruin what I’ve done thus far, which is a book that has the voice of a literary mainstream romance epic, I want to be very careful when I introduce some science fiction/fantasy elements in the last third that it does not override the mainstream romance voice I’ve done thus far. This is a delicate balancing act that I don’t want to mess up. I detest the voice in most fantasy novels and though this book could be classified as a fantasy, I want it to have the feel of a literary mainstream romance novel that is an epic. That is its charm. I botched what I did in 2009 because I changed the voice for the ending and it definitely seemed like a quickly added ending that I just tacked on to finish the book and, therefore, the ending didn’t work. When I introduce the fantasy/science fiction elements, I will back it with scientific fact to make it seem totally believable and possible, and thus, keep the voice in the mainstream literary romance epic category. I will also play down the fantasy elements and focus more on the romance elements. It also helps in that I believe that in the future, what I depict may become a reality for some people, especially during Christ’s 1,000 year reign. In other words, it’s totally possible that what is considered science fiction today, could be real life later. I plan to go deep into the science behind what happens in the book, so that the reader thinks, yeah, this is totally possible.
I’m thinking of having some flying cars during the tribulation, especially among the “elite” as they will be the only ones who can afford them.
You see, I’ve got a problem. I need to put some born again Christians into the tribulation period, when according to my Bible studies, Christians are raptured before the tribulation and don’t go into the future 7-year tribulation. I’m going to be using some pretty neat science to pull this off and I won’t be violating good Bible exegesis in the process. I expect a lot of Christians will read this book, including some theologians and I don’t want to lose them with sloppy Bible exegesis. BUT, this book is not a non-fiction theology primer, it’s a novel and I must never forget that. BUT I want to depict the future events as accurately as possible, so that it all seems TOTALLY BELIEVABLE. I’ve been researching Bible prophecy for years and am a bit of an expert on this subject now. But, you gotta watch out that you don’t try to “show off” your Bible knowledge in writing a novel. Then you are in danger of bogging it down with too much boring exposition and inserting stuff in scenes that have nothing to do with the story – a sure way to turn my A+ novel into an F minus BORING disaster.
Also, if I remember to focus on story first and Biblical accuracy second, if my Bible prophecy is off somewhere, my readers will forgive me cuz the story is so good and the life lessons they got from reading it, is still there BRILLIANTLY. After all, the purpose for writing is to transform your reader, not convince them you are a Bible genius. Now, if I was writing non-fiction, then convincing them I’m a Bible genius would be important. But, for a novel, it’s story first, second and ALWAYS. Part of a great story is to make it believable. So, yes, do your research and the parts of your story that deal with Bible prophecy, make as accurate as possible, BUT always remember this is a NOVEL. A novel is designed to make your readers FEEL. If you get the feeling part right, and if your research is brilliant, they might be doing some pretty heavy thinking also.
I’ve come up with a solution to keep my lovers together in the end, so I can continue the romantic character interactions to the very end. The most interesting parts in this novel are how the characters interact with each other, especially the lovers with each other. So I have to keep this going to the very end. This was something that stumped me for awhile, cuz one of the lovers goes through a “death” of sorts.
A technique I used, which worked brilliantly, was I made sure each scene had a strong voice and I actually cultivated the voice intentionally to make it match the mood of the character in the scene. This book, as I wrote it in the 1990s, had a mesmerizing voice and characters that you wanted to lose yourself into. I’m currently focusing on getting fully reacquainted with these characters, so that I can create meaningful arcs for them as I finish the book. As I read the 1990s draft, I’m totally impressed with my characterizations, that is the greatest strength of the book. The dialogue is unique to each character and they all seem to jump off the page. And as a good fiction writer, I didn’t waste any dialogue. It either moved the plot, revealed character, or helped with voice. A good fiction writer, can never totally recreate dialogue the way people really speak – BORING. They create the semblance of real talk, but make sure it forwards the plot, reveals character or adds to the voice of the scene.
I’ve learned that if my voice is off, either in the way I create dialogue, write scene descriptions or handle the narrative, even if only with just a few words wrong here and there, it ruins the entire scene. Also, it’s so important as a romance writer to evoke feeling in the reader using description that is tied into the scene beats/actions and not just flowery words to describe what the author is feeling as she writes! I did this a lot in 2009 and it was a disaster – very Mary Sue and AWFUL. Let the reader have their own reaction to what they read, DON’T SUPPLY THE REACTION FOR THEM AS A WRITER. This is easier said than done, but usually I can catch the melodrama, and eliminate it, in the rewrites. Every word has to count! I did such a good job in the 1990s version. I forgot that every word has to count when I did the rewrites in 2009 and changed an A+ novel into a D minus, for that reason. I won’t do that again!
Above all else, when the characters go into their hearts and minds, they need to be transparent, real and believable. They need to reveal vulnerabilities. They need to talk about what everyone’s scared to talk about and then by the end of the book, they need to deal with what scared them to death and learn some valuable life lessons about what it means to be human, to believe in God when it seems He’s dead, and to have faith in the face of tragedies that make you question your very existence.
Copyright © 2020 Gail Chord Schuler. All Rights Reserved.