Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Pushed Back Novel

Good Morning. For those of you who don't know what a "pushed back" novel is, the simple explanation is -- a novel that you've started and then pushed back to the end of the line to write something new.

My latest novel THE CAPTAIN'S LADY is one of those. Way back when, I wrote (and finished) THE LADY'S MASQUERADE. Then I began THE DUKE'S DIVORCE and THE CAPTAIN'S LADY. When I first began this writing adventure, I had it in my mind that William, Robert, and Richard were friends of long standing. These were/are the first three books in my series THE RELUCTANT GROOMS. I finished MASQUERADE. However, DIVORCE and LADY sat at 30,000 words each.

But before I finished those, I got sidetracked by Ellis and Violet and just had to write THE LADY'S FATE. I loved that book, the words flowed, and before I knew it I had written the end. And then along came the novellas. I had new friends I wanted to write about and again, before I knew it, I had three of those written, along with finished DIVORCE and then I just had to write THE EARL'S

However, in the midst of all this writing, I knew I had to go back and rework MASQUERADE. The series had found its underlying element (which I didn't know when I started writing it) and so, rewriting MASQUERADE took some time. Over a year as a matter of fact. But I did it and it's done, and now I'm trying to tie up all the loose ends about Richard and Amanda before I start the final phase of the series.

I digress, but I think you needed to know that before we get on with the post. Now, because THE CAPTAIN'S LADY has been pushed back for so long, the 30,000 words that I have are unusable. They stink like last week's trash. The dialogue is horrendous, the narrative is mostly backstory, and although I still like the plot, I've found I can't use the setting.

Which brought me to doing more research. Now as you probably know, writing a historical romance novel involves research. You can't just sit down and write a book without doing "some". And because I've been writing historicals for a long time, I have the gist of the Regency era. But with each of my stories, I've had to dive into "select" pieces of history to get the story "right".

In ROMANCING LADY RYDER I stepped into a small portion of the Russian's side of the Napoleonic Wars (with some artistic license if you will.) In MASQUERADE we had the issues of primogeniture and Letters Patent. In DIVORCE we took a look at the issue of divorce and annulment.

And here in THE CAPTAIN'S LADY, we're dealing primarily with ships. Now, if you think I could get away with, "Richard got on the boat and went to Liverpool to find Amanda" you would be wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong, but that is just so boring. Don't you think? So what did I do? I spent three weeks with a very great learned friend discussing via email, the intricacies of ships and guns and crew and sails and barges and ocean swells and storms and you get the picture. And I probably won't even use a third of what I've found, but knowing it does make all the difference in writing it.

Now, as I'm writing the story and I have most of my research finished (one never really finishes with research until the end), I have to get back into the plot. Which was a fairly good one if I do say so myself. However, in the earlier versions Richard and Amanda were in the America's and the sub-plot was the abolitionist movement. Slavery was abolished in England in 1807 thanks to William Wilburforce. (If you haven't seen the movie Amazing Grace, do. It's fantastic.) But here we are with Richard and Amanda's story now set in England and all the writing I had done I can't use now.

And let us remember that I also have the issue of overlapping characters. If you've read my books you know that I always have someone from another book in the story. Or maybe two or three someones. So I have to remember who was married to whom, and when, and where they were within the time frame of the present story. Ugh. It's a lot to make the pushed back novel cohesive to the rest of the series.

And you may ask why I even bothered to write this if it was so much work. Why do I even need to make Richard a viable character when he does so well as a periphery character in so many of my other books? Because I love Richard. I love Amanda. I love their story and how they overcome all the odds that I have thrown at them.

Is it worth it to finish this pushed back novel? You bet. Why? Because the series wouldn't be what it is without them in it. This exercise (if you will) has also shown me just how far I've come in my writing. My first draft back then is so much different than my first draft now. I've learned the "craft" of writing, I've learned the "rules" of writing and understand when and how I can break them.

A lot of writers talk about the "book of their heart" and how someday they're going to write it. (Because as most writers understand, being an author is a "business" and we're all looking for success. You need to write a great book to become successful.) A "book of the heart" is something that usually gets pushed back until you achieve that success.

Richard and Amanda's story is one of the books of my heart. I want to tell their story and I want to do it well. It may not be a commercial success, but I want it to be heard.

Tell me -- Do you have a "pushed back" novel sitting on your hard drive, under your bed in a box with the dust bunnies, in a file marked "later"? Do you have a "book of the heart"?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013


  1. I just published the "Book of My Heart"--and its sequel. They sat around and went through many revisions for a very long time before they were fit for publishing (thanks in part to you!). Perhaps it's because I had two other novels already out there, but it turns out these two books are my best sellers! So, there is a lot to be said for pushing those novels forward.

    And I do so love me some nautical research! I had so much fun delving into boats and shipwrecks when I wrote Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright! I can't wait to see the fruits of your research!

  2. Bridget -- I have so many "books of the heart" it's hard to decide which to write next. ha! But I'm glad your "PORTRAITS" are doing so well. I always loved them both.

    As for the nautical research... I'm getting bogged down in it and the book is starting to sound like a swashbuckling adventure rather than a romance. We'll see what I finish with.

  3. Fantastic post. THANKS.

    Love your header. I have been here before, but not lately.

    Enjoy your upcoming week.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  4. Elizabeth -- Well, thanks for dropping by. Nice to see you again.


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