Friday, March 16, 2007

In the Home Stretch

I can see the end of my Work in Progress like a little spark of light way up there on the horizon. This book has been a long process for me. I wasn't even going to write it, originally; I felt I had written a stand-alone novel with "Nothing to Regret." But more and more readers wanted to know what happened to Sunny, and I realized that I did have more of a story to tell. So much so, in fact, that this is going to end up as a trilogy. Who woulda thunk it?

Right now I'm hovering at just under 90,000 words, and I've never written that much before. The closest I've come is 80,000 words in my forthcoming novel "Season of Sacrifice," and I thought I'd never be able to top that. (Well, I did!)

I've been pulled off track by a lot of things on this novel. When I first wrote it, I made it character-driven instead of history-driven, and it wasn't flying at all. Good friend Josi Kilpack read it for me, told me it stunk, and I have thanked her many times for her honesty since then. When I looked at it from a historical point of view, then I was able to take it and create something so much stronger, but it stayed in the back of my closet for about a year before I came to that conclusion.

Then I prepared the rough draft and felt pretty dang good about it. I sent it to Gordon Ryan, who is my historical consultant. He told me that I had placed my character in the wrong place. (I'm not gonna tell you where because I want you to read the book.) Now, I had done a whole heapin' helping of research and really loved the segment I had written, but after smacking my head against a brick wall for several hours, realized that Gordon was right. (I should have just known that and saved myself the concussion.) So I started looking for other information, only to find that there isn't very much at all.

Okay, this secrecy I'm trying to adopt isn't working, so I'll just tell you. I had placed my character in the Hanoi Hilton, but because he was taken prisoner as a foot soldier in the south, he would have been held in a South Vietnamese camp. Precious little has been written about the South Vietnamese camps, and I spent hours online trying to find articles, books, anything, about the topic. Nothing. Finally I e-mailed the POW organization and asked them, and they referred me to two fabulous books that I promptly bought. Now my task is to rewrite and turn my character's Hilton experience into a South Vietnamese jungle camp experience. That is the "rewrite" mentioned in my tally sheet to the right, if you've been following my "Work in Progress" report at all.

So after a long tedious journey, I'm tickled to say that I'm nearly done. I'm glad that the journey wasn't any less tedious -- I've learned so much through this process. I'll be so very glad to get it done, but I truly feel that I'll have a book to be proud of when I'm finished.

4 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

Wow. Your research sounds incredible. Congrats for getting so close to the end.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Thanks, Heather! It feels good to be this close.

Keith Fisher said...

After reading nothng to regret, I'm looking forward with baited breath to read the next book.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm sort of excited to read it too . . .

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