It was so terribly polite that regardless of how much I wanted to tell my old WIP to take a hike - I simply couldn't.
So what prompted my old WIP to come out of (semi)retirement? Well, mostly it was the comments I received last week while taking part in the query contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim.
While the query itself received mostly positive comments, the first 250 of my manuscript didn't fare quite as well. The bulk of the criticism was focused on the use of present tense, and too many flashbacks. So, yeah, I had a problem with both the present and the past - not good.
The reason I used present tense was because while writing my first draft it just wanted to be written that way. At the time that seemed like a good reason to write it that way, but now I have to question whether that really was reason enough to write in a style that I now realize is HATED (like the kind of white-hot hate that I usually reserve for the synopsis) by many people.
Although I like the sense of immediacy present tense gave my WIP, it could also be restrictive - not allowing for a whole lot of foreshadowing, or "in retrospect" type moments. So, now I am considering going back and rewriting the whole 101,000 word manuscript into past tense.
The whole too many flashbacks was an easier fix - I just moved that info a little further back into the chapter, and think that it works just as well, if not better, having moved back slightly.
Of course, into this mixture I have also spent an inordinate amount of time endlessly obsessing over my firsts. The first sentence. The first paragraph. The first page. The first chapter.
In the space of a week, I have gone wwwaaaayyyyy beyond second-guessing myself. At a conservative estimate, I'd say I'm now somewhere around bazillionth guessing myself.
Anyway, since I am chasing my tail until I am dizzy, I am going to post a few two alternate beginnings here in the hopes of receiving a bit of guidance from some of my faithful readers out there.
OLD PRESENT TENSE BEGINNING
I’m pushing a vacuum, trying to shake the hangover still lingering four days after my Christmas Day drinking binge, when I first see it.
It is the bracelet sitting on my employer’s dresser. As far as I’m concerned though, the bracelet might as well be underneath a tinsel covered tree, all wrapped up with a pretty bow and my name on top. I know immediately that it is mine.
Usually, I’m not much for Christmas. I guess you could say it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, which was maybe why I felt compelled to drink so much of the moonshine my uncles gave me as a Christmas gift. It was the only gift I received. And it wasn’t wrapped in ribbons and bows. No, it was just two mason jars tucked into a brown paper lunch bag and left on my front doorstep.
NEW PAST TENSE BEGINNING
My uncles call it the Moby Dick rule, even though they’ve never read that book, or any other one. The rule is simple: always steal anything you can, except, never steal what your heart wants. Each of my uncles has his own story that proves the rule: a ‘69 Mustang Boss in metallic blue, a gold Rolex, and a pair of cowboy boots with a silver lightening bolt running down the side. Each item led down a different path of personal ruin.Never one to obey my heart’s demands, I thought this rule didn’t apply to me - turns out I was wrong. I was pushing a vacuum, trying to shake the hangover still lingering four days after my Christmas Day drinking binge, when I first saw my own white whale.
Any and all opinions are welcome! I'd also love to hear everyone's thoughts on the use of present tense.
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