Recently I picked up “the sci fi novel”, a project I finished a couple of years ago, and decided to read it. Fascinating experience!
It’s the first time I’ve had enough distance to experience the text as a reader would and the first time I’ve been able to get that view on how the chapters etc work. They do work! Well, I’m happy with the result and what more can you ask for?
The best thing was not feeling like it needed another draft, because there is that “novels are never finished” sense most of us carry around. There are some very small tweaks I’ll make here and there, but that’s it.
It’s not really a surprise that I’m still editing PAR. It’s big. It’s got a lot going on and it’s evolved through the edit. The trickiest thing has been the end section of maybe 5 chapters. I’ve re-written them for the most part rather than just edit and I’m happy that I have but it makes them 1st drafts if you know what I mean. And that means more editing to come.
Sadly there is also more editing to be done in the rest of the book. It’s weirdly hanging somewhere between a nice well-formed 1st draft and a nice 2nd draft but it’s not really either right now!
Worst of all the daemon is itching for new words. I can tell that from the way he keeps flying around the ceiling. He’s not subtle. So I’ve made a plan to try to get him what he wants and keep the PAR edit flowing. The solution, I think, is the necessary start over for N3 (i.e. the 3rd in my interlinked novella series). That seems like a project to juggle while switching back to editing on PAR.
I think the daemon approves, but we’ve mostly worked on PAR as a single project so we’ll see.
The good thing is I finally got to give my protag in PAR – who I think is just one fantastic “person” – something happy. After beating the crap out of him for quite some time now, he got a little bit of cheer… us writers are a hard-hearted bunch. Downright mean to our characters.
Anyway, if things go to plan I might be hunting for beta readers for PAR sometime this year. This pleases me. Though I’ve no idea what I’ll bribe them with for reading a door-stopper of a tome like this! Hopefully they find it as much fun to read as I do.
Last Monday, I was editing on the train on the way to work. It was a very dark, emotional scene and I realised – more slowly than I should have – that it probably wasn’t a good way to start the work week!
My only problem with PAR and editing right now is they’re all dark, emotional scenes. I guess the only solution is to do something else on a Monday commute… (thinks: what can I read?)
The writing daemon has earned his chocolate! Turns out that PAR’s antagonist was up to no good for a good reason, but that’s what was missing – her motivation!!
Okay that’s enough excited exclamation marks for one post… but I am pleased. I’d been worried my brain had identified some larger problem and I’d end up reworking this last section. I’m so close to finishing the edit (7 chapters left!) that a major issue was going to turn it into a slog.
Motivations sometimes sink below the action when I’m writing the initial draft. (Not for the protag, but for other players.) I think it’s the fact it all seems logical that throws me, because I don’t expect to write something that is logical and in keeping with their character without an explicit motivation. But you can! That’s what happened here, probably because there’s a lot going on in this section and many threads converging.
Of course I might find other problems with these few last chapters, but I’m not so worried now. And, I’ve got to say, my mind is already working out how I’ll tackle the next edit. I know what I want to work on, because there is a real weakness in my dialogue through-out this draft. It’s been bugging me during this edit, but I like to do dialogue all in one hit to keep consistency. For now I just need to finish this draft!
The observant reader of my blog will have noticed a suspicious absence of PAR, or other writing, chat recently… even after I’d said I was planning on doing some during my week off… and that came and went…
This is because I’ve hit resistance!
Other than enjoying a break, I realised that writing daemon isn’t happy with the 6th, 7th and 8th last chapters of PAR. The major antagonist is doing things which are logical – daemon and I agree on that – but he’s not convinced by them. I’m willing to consider he might be right. There’s just something a bit under-baked about what the antagonist is up to. Note the very technical term there – a sure sign that I have no idea why it’s not working.
The solution I’ve come up with is to avoid the question entirely (!) and keep working by starting with the last chapter and going backwards.
Trust me it’s not as weird as it sounds. I already know what needs fixing in the two last chapters (emotional tone) and they’re quite divorced from the earlier crisis caused by my antagonist. By the time I’m back into the problem zone, I reckon daemon will have figured it all out (I’ve promised him chocolate).
Can’t say I’ve tried working backwards before though…
It’s not often I read a modern author and think “I’ll read more of these” and my liking of Peter Temple has, I’ll admit, grown over a number of years, but he is an author I like. I enjoyed The Broken Shore and I love the Jack Irish novels I’ve read.
The humour and characters are winners for me. The fact the Jack Irish books are set in my city – in places I know well – adds a nice extra touch because the characters are perfect for the real world locations as well as the fictional ones.
A few posts back I was talking about diagrams that help me check my pantser ways haven’t led to horrible implausible events in my novels. Well, this week I’ve spent a lot of effort on checking timelines. This isn’t so much a diagram thing as a spreadsheet thing, but I guess the overall need is the same…
The problem with PAR is that a bunch of people have to get sick. Natural variation in the type of illness I’ve chosen makes this an interesting balancing act between making particular people get sick in a timely way for the plot without just making the variations seem like plot-convenience. I also need symptoms to match to the action so… spreadsheet.
I think I have this working properly and it’s close to what I originally wrote, so that’s a relief. Now I just have to put it to the back of my mind and get on with the edit!
My spreadsheet did get a double use though – always satisfying – because I’d lost track of what the weather was doing in parts of the story. Not that weather is hugely important, but it would be a bit weird if the only time I mention it is when it rains.