Work in Progress #28: A Reconstruction of My Emily Post Biography

emily-postAfter my agent read my latest draft of Emily we had a long phone conversation. I still had more work to do. I needed to begin in medias res (in the middle of things), I needed to get to the significant part of Emilys life more quickly, and I needed to shorten even more. What she was asking of me was not a revision but a reconstruction.

So Ive been sitting here for weeks now with a mental picture of my book strewn around me in piecesdismantledparts everywhere. Some of the pieces will be discarded, some will be rewritten, a few will remain intact, the whole thing will be rearranged.

My first decision is where to jump into the story and I figure that one out pretty quickly. Starting at a later time in Emilys life means I either have to jettison the preceding material or figure out a way to slip it into the ongoing narrative as brief asides or mini-flashbacks. It all seems daunting if not impossible and Im not sure I would even be attempting it if I didnt have faith in this agent of mine. (A brief aside here: never work with an agent whose abilities you are unsure of!)

When I jump into chapter 4 as if it were chapter 1, I find the going surprisingly easy. There are a few spots where I struggle to fill in the now-missing backstory but much of the material in those first three chapters is discarded with no effect. That tells me that too much of my original opening was mere fluff – interesting but not significant.

Because Ive begun at a trot rather than a walk, the pace as I move forward from chapter four has to be re-set, quickened to fit that of my new opening. That too happens fairly easily. I feel impatient with certain sections of the story that I thought were fascinating. I shorten sentences and paragraphs or, just as often, hit delete.

I send the new beginning to my agent to see if Im on the right track. She thinks I am.

So Im plugging ahead with my reconstruction. And Im liking whats appearing on my computer screen.

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Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge, Author

Connie Nordhielm WooldridgeBiography | View

Speaker / Presenter

Connie is an experienced speaker and presenter who enjoys sharing her passion for writing and her experience as a writer with readers and writers of all ages. She has presented to students, community, civic and professional organizations, writing groups, library audiences, and seniors – wherever book lovers gather!
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