Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Outside, strobes atop the police cars spilled red and blue over the figures huddled on the lawn.
From the front window, the lights of the Christmas tree cast multicolored reflections on the snow.
Inside the house, red bows and green garlands adorned the mantel of the living room. That color scheme continued in the tattered green coat the man on the floor wore and the darkening red stain that spread from the knife handle protruding from his back.
Dr. Shannon Frasier stood transfixed in one corner, unable to tear her eyes away from the corpse. Her “almost-fiancé,” Dr. Mark Gilbert, was beside her, his arm resting lightly on her shoulder.
This was no way to start the holiday season.
In case you’re wondering where you can find those lines, you can’t, unless you scan the hard drive of my computer. When I started writing my most recent novel of medical suspense, Critical Condition, I planned to set it during the Christmas season. But after writing the first chapter, I decided that wasn’t going to work. So I started over.
When I was writing another novel, Heart Failure, I scrapped 20,000 words after I saw I was headed in the wrong direction. That one was tough to write, but I kept at it and after a number of false starts, several new beginnings, and multiple revisions, I produced a novel I thought was good.
In the past I never gave any thought to how many times an author may have started over, how many drafts and revisions were involved, until the book in my hand was born. But that was before I started writing. Now I am acutely aware of all that. As author Alton Gansky told my group of neophyte writers: “Once you begin writing, you’ll never read a book the same way again.” And I’ve found that to be true.
To the writers reading this, I would remind you that there may come a time when, despite all the work you’ve put in on it, it’s necessary to scrap what you’ve written and start over. If that happens to you, don’t worry about it. After all, the finished product is what counts.
In writing, as in so many other things in life, the old adage is true: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice President of theHis most recent novel, just released, is Critical Condition. You can follow Richard on his blog, on Twitter, and his Facebook fan page.