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  • Writer's pictureAllison Sloan

Think System

Hurrah, two agents asked to read more of my novel. One even said she’s heard fabulous things about my book! I hope they are patient, because with inspiration and ideas from the GrubStreet Muse & the Marketplace, my novel is undergoing another, and yet another serious round of editing. The ideas and realizations just keep coming. 

In an early draft, an author friend suggested a prologue, and I fell in love with the idea. I wrote something short and mysterious, from the perspective of the missing son. Then an agent suggested it didn’t draw the reader into the first chapter because it was too mysterious.

I actually agreed. I loved the content of my prologue, but knew it was too confusing. So I solved the problem by putting components of the prologue into the body of the story. Very satisfying. But that left me without an opening chapter.

I looked at it as an opportunity to write and rewrite. Who agrees with me? Love the writing. Even love editing. First attempt: I wrote a romantic, totally non-mysterious chapter to introduce the mistress and the flirtatious side of the protagonist. But when I showed it to the agent who had suggested this as an opener, we agreed it felt disjointed to introduce the mistress before you even know there is a wife. And it still doesn’t draw the reader into the story. Conundrum!

I put it down, spent my time writing emails to friends and surfing Facebook for the first time in a year. Meanwhile I was using the infamous “Think System” (as in The Music Man by Meredith Wilson?

Sparks! The Solution!, mulling and meditating.

Then, By Jove! I’ve got it! An opener with insight into a key relationship that improves the flow and leads the reader right into the story… but not from the voice of the missing son, not from the scene of a man and his mistress. Aha! From a different voice, one hinted at in the book but rarely heard. An opening that introduces a pivotal perspective, builds character, peeks into a forbidden relationship. 

No spoilers! But I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. 7+ rewrites later?

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