I’ve spent the last two days reworking the second chapter of the Hogwarts book. And I think I’ve finally got it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve thought I had it fixed – this is probably the fifth rewrite -- but this time I really think I’m on the right track.
The problem with this chapter is that it was written before I had any clue about writing fiction. First of all, there was waaaaay too much exposition and essentially no dialogue, so I had to go back several times and convert much of the exposition into dialogue (show, don't tell!). This resulted in the removal of large chunks of the chapter; some of which I liked very much and it was painful. Truman Capote once said something to the effect that one of the tricks to being a good writer is being able to “murder your darlings.” In other words, being able to toss the parts of your writing that just don’t fit, no matter how much you are in love with them.
The other problem with the chapter, the one I’ve been dealing with the last two days, has to do with the writing style. When I began this project a year and a half ago, all I had was a collection of short, anemic chapters based loosely on ideas that had been bouncing around inside my head ever since I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The idea of combining them into a single story didn’t come until much later and my decision to write the book as if it was to be the next book in the series only occurred this last spring. But the second chapter didn't sound like anything JKK Rowling would have written.
If I had to describe my writing style, it would probably be a cross between Rowling and Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Not that my skill level is anywhere close to theirs, but the tone is similar. And my second chapter sounded too much like Hitchhiker's Guide, so I needed to fix it up to match rest of the chapters in the book.
I should have it finished by the end of the weekend. I guess I can't complain. I’ve heard of writers rewriting entire books -- many times over.