CHANGING THE PLOT, by Joanna Weston.
The main character, Frame, an eleven-year-old girl, in ‘Frame and the McGuire’ has held my attention for almost ten years, through revisions, edits, and three middle-reader novels. I like her. Each book more-or-less wrote itself, driven by the characters, Frame and her brother Ranger.
The first comment I had from the publisher was that the book was more about place than people. I needed to reduce the importance of the place and make Frame front and centre. I went through the book carefully in order to understand what was meant. The place is dear to me as I had lived there but in re-reading I understood what needed to be done and duly set about reducing the setting to its appropriate background place.
The next comment was about the villain: he was too obviously the villain. I needed to introduce someone else, a family member or friend, who would be the bad guy. In my first book, ‘The Willow-Tree Girl’, the rogue is undisclosed until the end; in my second I made it clear as to who was who. But in ‘Frame and the McGuire’, I liked my villainous villain and was unwilling at first to introduce someone else. I put myself in the mind of the heroine and was better able to understand the dynamics for this book. So I did it, and became quite attached to the new villain. It was fascinating to keep an eye on the protagonists as I inserted new relationships into their lives, changed the action, and maintained atmosphere and tension.
I had started my middle reader, ‘Frame and the McGuire’, in the middle of the action. and was asked to start right at the beginning, with the discovery of the body. Here I found the character studies I had made of my heroine and her brother useful. I went back to them and found them willing and happy to come in earlier.
The re-writing, threading new characters and events into the plot, was fascinating, hard work but intensely creative. The lessons learned from an extremely good editor stand me in good stead for future middle readers.
Joanna M. Weston is the author of middle-reader novels and poetry. She's married; has two cats, multiple spiders, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen-houses. Her middle-reader, ‘Those Blue Shoes', published by Clarity House Press; and poetry, ‘A Summer Father’, published by Frontenac House of Calgary. Her eBook, ‘The Willow Tree Girl’ at her 1960willowtree blog and at Smashwords, "The Willow Tree Girl" .
Read an excerpt from "Those Blue Shoes"
Joanna is also is also a member of Internet Writing Workshop.
"The Workshop is open to all styles and genres of writing: literary fiction, genre fiction, poetry, children's writing, essays, newspaper articles, scripts, you name it. Members do not need to be published writers, only to be serious about writing and about wanting to improve."IWW also includes Writing, the list where members of all the above lists touch base to discuss writing-related subjects, and post "Yahoos."