Well, Tuesday morning, close to 2am.
What happened? I finished my draft of SILENT CITY. It was a bit of a surprise. I was working on it in my room -- had been for a few hours -- when I realized I was entering the final, climactic scene. I figured I'd finish the scene and go to bed. But once I closed out the main chunk of the story, the next thing I knew I was writing the epilogue I'd planned to add to the end. No spoilers here. By 2, I was done, and it was weird, exciting, nerve-wracking and pretty damn cool.
Now, this doesn't mean I'm done, DONE. Far from it. This draft needs revisions -- lots of 'em. But I always saw the first draft as really a hyper-detailed outline. A solid framework and road map that I could then add some colors and detail to. And I think that's what I have. The characters and scenery need more compelling detail and description of the world they live in, but overall, I'm pleased with the structure and pacing.
Does that mean the plot is without error? Far from it. There are a few scenes I'm on the fence about. But, as with the initial outline that became the novel, there's enough room to tinker with that I'm confident that with proper revision, I may reach my goal.
I always envisioned SILENT CITY as a fun, compact little detective novel, very much like Pelecanos' A FIRING OFFENSE, Lippman's THE SUGAR HOUSE or Lehane's A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR. Not overly pretentious or trying to be something it isn't. A solid read you could get through in a few days and possibly leave you wanting more from these characters.
Still, that doesn't mean I went in with no literary aspirations. One of the things I feel like the draft is missing -- and I'd like to remedy and beef up on revision -- is the setting. Miami is such a unique and vibrant town, and while you get snippets of that in reading the first draft, I'd love to paint a stronger picture of the place I called home for most of my life.
But, again, I'm not concerned about this. Novel writing is a lot like building a house. You need a strong foundation and framework first, then you can talk about what drapes to put in the guest room, you know?
So, my plan for the next few weeks is just that: to kick the walls a bit, test the doors and tighten the screws. Once I feel happy with the first draft -- well, happy enough to let someone else read it -- I'll pass it on to the League and see what they think. After those revisions are made, I have a short list of talented friends that I'll past the draft on to. Some are published authors or journalists, some are just really smart and well-read. All of them will bring valuable input to the process. After all that is done -- and pinch me when it is -- this irregular feature will become more about query letters and contacting agencies than the actual writing. But that's exciting, too, in its own way. Fingers crossed.