March 1, 2010KR BlogKR

This Year I Rewrite My Novel–Part II or: Sticking (It) to the Master Plan

“There are different ways to approach this job, but there is one that all writers have in common: you must decide whether or not this document is worth the next nine months of your life“What you have to decide is whether the novel has a soul or not.” (Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel)


What does it mean for a novel to have a soul?

Sometimes, I even wonder if certain humans have soul. Although I am rather certain that most dogs–and domestic animals in general–do.

We’ve all heard soul defined differently–the OED says this, while James Brown says that.

Despite this, after spending the last week reading my first draft, YES, MY NOVEL HAS SOUL! Do you hear me, apartment-complex neighbors?

But how do I know this?

I started reading my first draft terrified that I would find nothing there–no pulse, just a beginning and end, top to bottom, something that resembled a novel but as satisfying and as static as a Michael Jackson by Madame Tussauds.

The language in the first 50 pages happens to be so overwrought and pyrotechnical that I wondered whether or not this performance artiste was just a backyard wrestler (with his tables slightly-sawed to fold in half when the opponent’s body “smashes” into them).

But then around page 60, it picks up. I mean, it’s virtually a page-turner which is a little goofy and unexpected considering the premise–Korean American man in his sixties finds reconciliation through failure, a plant nursery, and other unlikely places. (Doesn’t that sound like a total blockbuster?)

Suddenly, I started turning pages because I stopped marking them.

I started listening because I knew I liked the sound.