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Getting Serious - Part 2

Hey look . . . I have followers. *Waving* Hi there. Wow, I'd better watch what I say now that people are actually reading. GULP!

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, I had just decided to turn my short-story into a novel. What was I thinking? Who was I to be writing an actual book?

There were two things that propelled me forward. First, I believed I had a fairly original idea for a story, one that was universal in its appeal. Secondly, it would be a way to challenge myself. It may turn out to be a piece of crap and never be published, but if I was successful I would be able to tell myself I had written a book once. If nothing else, I could self-publish and send copies to my relatives and friends. So I decided to go for it!

My original short story was 40 pages long. I know, not very short, more like a novella really. The premise of the story revolved around the main character (who is in his early 50's) going through his old album collection and stumbling across a song that unearths a long forgotten bitter-sweet memory. It was a memory of meeting his first true love during a week long trip to Florida while he was still in college. Not only does he remember meeting and falling in love her, but he also reminisces about his friends that made the trip with him. It was a tragic love-story though, because upon returning back to school and writing several letters that go unreturned, he discovers that his new love had been killed in an automobile accident while returning back home from Florida.

How do you turn something like that into a 350 page book? You start out by asking a simple question. What if the main character found out that the girl of his dreams might not have actually died?

The backbone of the entire plot was mapped out on the couch with my wife one Sunday afternoon. Then I started to do research about books in general. How many pages is in the average book? How many pages per chapter? Should I write it in first person (as my short story was written) or change to another POV? Once I had all of those answers (but as I learned later - not all of those answers were correct), I began outlining each chapter. I did this primarily because I still wasn't sure I had enough to fill an entire book.

With my plot and outline providing me the confidence I needed, I began the process of modifying my original 40 pages and then adding to it. I figured that a decent novel should be closer to 400 pages long, so that was what I aimed for. It took me seven months, but in November of 2008 'Slow Dancer' became a reality.

It ended up being 135,000 words long, and that was only one of its problems.

My wife, daughter, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law have all read it and of course lavished praise upon it (what can I say - they're relatives). But in the ten months since I finished it, I have learned much about the publishing industry and plenty of things that are wrong with it.

Next time I'll tell you about it's flaws and the barriers that will keep it from being published, as well as what I've been doing to overcome them.

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