So, you’ve got the story down beginning to end. What to do next? First of all, since the first four chapters seemed pretty good, I just spent time tightening them up and adding in certain things I missed on the first go around.
Because you do have the story already written out with a beginning, middle and end, you can step back a bit for a clearer picture of what you are actually trying to accomplish—what mood are you setting, what events do you need to put in to fit with the whole plot.
Here’s an example: In Chapter 2, Alexander Wainwright, the protagonist and Britain’s finest landscape artist, and his friend, Peter, are walking through the Piccadilly Arcade in London on the way to a book launch by a character, Professor Henry Callan. I’ve already decided that this professor is destined to play a much larger role in the whole story and so, I must develop him much more in this scene.
But back to the Arcade. For me, arcades are really beautiful, ornate, shopping malls of the 19th century. There is a massive book entitled, The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin. It is a huge study of various Parisian Arcades of the 19th century and their social, political and historical significance. I love to dip into [it’s more than one thousand pages] this work for inspiration.
I’m afraid our present day idea of a shopping mall doesn’t really compare. For me, these arcades are mysteriously attractive and I’m not really sure why. I don’t doubt that it somehow relates to childhood. In Toronto, we once had an arcade which I used to walk through hand in hand with my mother at the age of five or so. Definitely, I was impressed with its mysterious nooks and crannies as only a five year old can be.
I want to get that feeling or mood somehow onto the page. I list lots of descriptions of this arcade for my second chapter. But the real trick will be how to make the feelings I have had walking through such a space belong to Alexander and through his expression of them, make the reader feel them. Obviously, this arcade is getting to be pretty important. It’s rapidly becoming a central image for the novel. I think I have decided to end the book with Alexander and Peter walking back out of this arcade. But we shall see. Those kind of decisions can be made much later.
Why is it so important to put it here right near the beginning of the novel? I am trying to create an air of mystery and maybe even a dream like quality because that’s exactly where stories start—with the unexplained and the mysterious which the author then sets out [bravely] to show. At least that is the theory I’m working with today. In another few days, I’ll post some more thoughts about writing this second draft of this new novel. Seems to me, a lot of the process of re-writing is permitting yourself the pleasure of getting lost in the story. That’s the way I try to make it the best I possibly can.