Writing.

Dec. 31st, 2010 12:34 pm
rhienelleth: (Reaper)
 Hey guys.

Cutting to the chase: It's taken me nearly two years and a handful of rewrites, but I think Nemesis is finally where it needs to be.  Or, you know, firmly going where it needs to be.  It bears such faint resemblance to the original draft I sent to beta readers, I marvel now that I ever thought that draft "done" and "polished".  Along the way, I've gotten invaluable advice from beta readers, critique partners, industry professionals, and friends.  But at the end of the day, I'm the one that has to decide what makes the story good, and when and how to implement those changes.  I've cut so many pieces that didn't really belong in the old draft, and beefed up and concentrated on others I never thought mattered.  

Mercy as a character has come so far.  I hope it's far enough.  At some point, a writer becomes too close to the work to really know.  I never realized before, that people weren't able to connect to her emotionally as well as they should.  A fault in how I wrote her.  A lack of the reader's ability to know what Mercy was thinking and feeling, because I just didn't put it in there (even though I really thought I did.)  

Now, things are different.  Now, the reader gets to know not only Mercy's innermost thoughts, but also Reaper's.  (Something that has made my beta readers very happy.  His POV did not really exist in the original drafts.)  

I know I've mentioned occasionally here that I'm working on the rewrite(s).  That has had a few starts and stops, as I've struggled with what to get rid of, and what to keep and expand.  But the extra time it took me was worth it, because it allowed me to put some space between the old draft and my connection to it, to look objectively as some things I would never have considered getting rid of before.  

Now, here I am on the fourth (fifth?) rewrite since that old draft, and I'm feeling better about the book than I have since I was so certain that old draft was the draft.  I'm rewriting scenes I never thought needed to be rewritten before, and cutting out whole chapters, and adding new ones.  I think only a handful of scenes from that old draft even resemble themselves anymore, and that's not a bad thing.  It's a better book.  A stronger book.  

So, have a word count meter:



I'm averaging about 8K a day, and hoping to keep that up until school starts on Tuesday this next week.  

Oh, and have a snippet:
 Brotherly affection. )
 
**end snippet**

Oh, and just a note that I am looking for a couple of additional beta readers.  If anyone feels up to volunteering.
rhienelleth: (coffee)
After yesterday's epiphany, I thought I'd post an example as I work on fixing it.  Also, unexpected things about one's characters often come out on the page when you aren't looking for them.  Apparently, Drug (a minor character) is devoutly religious.  And Mercy (my MC) isn't.

Since I myself am of a religious bent, this is an odd realization to have.  Especially given that this counts as the third rewrite of this book, and religion has never particularly played a role before.  But what do people do when faced with death?  If they believe in a God, often they pray.  

So, without further ado:

 
The old (from draft 2) opening to Chapter One. )
 

See how, not once do I mention how Mercy feels in this situation?  Everything is conveyed through dialogue, or a description of her doing something.  Even though the story is told from her POV, we aren't really in her head here.

And here's the new opening.  Same scene, different approach:


 
New Chapter One opening. )
 
 

See how adding bits about what Mercy's feeling makes the situation more immediate?  At least, I hope it does.  In fact, I think it changes the entire mood of the scene.  Let me know if you agree, or if you don't! :-)
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
 So.

Recent feedback from a beta reader has, as the subject line suggests, given rise to an epiphany about my writing, and my characters, and I think I've just realized something that has plagued me for two books.

My MC, my POV character.  I believe, as I said to another beta reader in working through this epiphany this afternoon, that I'm using Mercy too much as what I call "the author's telescope", or lense, and not enough as herself, with her own identity, thoughts and feelings.  Too much: "Look here, see this situation, and these interesting people?"  Not enough of what Mercy feels, or thinks about it.  

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I did the same thing in Dark Vision, with Elysia.  But not, I think, in the more recent novella, Veritas.  Also, there are places in this draft of Nemesis where the problem does not exist.  The prologue, for example.  Chapters from Reaper's POV, for another.  It's really in Mercy's POV that the problem makes itself really known.

So, the good news: I can fix it, especially now that I'm actually aware of it.

The not-so-good news: lots of rewriting looms ahead of me.

Sometimes I feel like I will never be done.  At the same time, I see how this will make things better.  I actually think this, more than anything else, is what the agent was talking about when she gave me feedback on the old draft.  When she had trouble connecting to Mercy.  I've had this doubt in the back of my mind for awhile, that the rewrite hasn't really fixed enough.  I think this is why.  I think I was going about it from the wrong direction.  

It is by turns depressing, daunting, but also exciting, to contemplate another rewrite. I really think this is it.  The major problem, more than any other, that needed and continues to need addressing.  

You know what's really funny?  I used to read about other authors rewriting entire books, and shake my head at the very idea.  And those authors who rewrote the same book multiple times?  CRAZY.  

I guess that tells me where I'm at now, as opposed to back then.  :D

Revision

Oct. 19th, 2009 11:36 am
rhienelleth: (Dem)
The things I get to write, now that Dem has a wife and cute little daughter in the new draft:

Reaper suddenly stiffened, his attention turning to the hallway ahead of them. A large, muscular figure stepped around the corner. His head was shaved, his features strong and masculine. Dark skinned and blue eyed, he wore a neatly tailored suit in pale gray.

Dem, Reaper’s brother, and the only other killer on the ship.

With a smudge on his collar of something that looked suspiciously like peanut butter.
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
I am well over half way, and things are moving really quickly now for the rewrite. I'm finally to a place where some things can stay...but most scenes still have to be rewritten, regardless of that.

For example, I posted this snippet of the original draft, way back when.

And in the rewrite, it's the same...but not.  You know, in case you were curious about things like that.

Progress

Sep. 14th, 2009 03:04 pm
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
Spent an enjoyable weekend with friends. Now it's back to work on the Nemesis rewrite.



This last chapter is mostly the same, or the most the same of any chapter I've done so far, and yet probably three quarters of it is actually re-written, or reworded on a sentence level. We'll see how the next chapter goes, as I expect it to stay largely the same as well.

Although I'm toying with the idea of doing a POV switch for it. Tell it from Reaper's POV...hmmm.
rhienelleth: (Default)
Now that the novella's out of the way, and I've had a day or two to recover from the insane schedule I maintained to finish it, it's back to Nemesis revisions.

Right before I started to novella, I finished the first "section" I'd had as a goal on Nemesis - namely, the first five chapters, which had required a total and complete rewrite. 17,000 words in total.

(Ironically, the novella was 25,000 words, and took me only two weeks to complete. Those five chapters? Took a couple three months. But I had a lot of deciding what i wanted to change going on, and then research to back up the changes I decided on.)

But, now that they're done, the total wordcount for the new first five chapters is 1,000 more than the old. That really surprised me. I feel like the rewrite tightens that beginning and makes a lot of things more immediate, by quite a bit, so I was expecting less words, not more. It certainly removes a boatload of extraneous material.

So where did all the new words come from? Well, I spend a lot more time on Reaper and Mercy's relationship - not that they really have one, yet, but they spend more time in each other's company. There are two whole chapters from Reaper's POV that weren't there before. Also, the old exposition prologue is gone, and in its place is a new, much more relavant prologue with characters that show up very soon, now. It's longer than the old prologue by...about 1,000 words. Funny, that.

Where the rewrite stands right now:



Let's see if this starts moving faster, now that I'm actually revising/rewriting, vs. just wholesale rewriting.
rhienelleth: (Default)
Okay, all knowing f-list!

I've looked and looked, and can't seem to find a clear answer.

On a Naval vessel, if, say, an officer is accused of a crime along the lines of treason, I believe the Navy would have authority and jurisdiction, not some other government agency, even if the other agency are the ones who show up with evidence of this?

I hope that makes sense.

I just want to make sure I'm not going down the wrong path here, but I'm reasonably sure I'm correct.
rhienelleth: (Default)
The husband finally got around to beta-ing the first few chapters of my Nemesis rewrite this weekend.

Sometimes it pays to have an English teacher, who is also a writer himself, as a husband/first reader. I mean, sure, I'm an English major. I write. I read. But he makes his living teaching stories to a bunch of recalcitrant high schoolers. And it isn't his story, so he can look at it from an objective position.

His thoughts had good news/bad news:

Him: "This is a real book. A real story. I can see this being published. It's about a hundred times better than the old version. I would tweak [this here], but this is really good."

Me: YAY!!

Him: "You know you're writing xyz story, right?"

Me: "...um. I am." (Sure, I knew that!)

Him: "Yeah, that means you have to keep [this] and [this] in mind when you're doing the rest of it. Cause a savvy reader, or even a not-so-savvy one, is going to expect this arc to take place. You can do all sorts of deviations and play as much as you want as LONG AS xyz happens."

ME: "Right. I totally knew that." (And I did, subconsciously. It was like "well, duh, of course I am!")

Him, a little cautiously: "You do know you're rewriting the entire book, right?"

Me: "Well, sort of. I mean yes, I'm rewriting/revising the entire thing, but some things will be the same, like [important key events]."

Him: "Yes, but I bet even when you get to [important key events], you'll find you have to change how you present them because of xyz."

Me: *stares at him* "Would you just be quiet and let me live in my delusional little world for awhile longer, wherein I'm not rewriting all 96,000 words from scratch??"

Him: "Okay. But you're going to have to."

Me: Shush!
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
Thank god for beta readers who are smarter than me! Or at least catch things I should have thought about. :)

*back to writing*

Finally!

Jun. 24th, 2009 11:48 am
rhienelleth: (Default)
I am 12K into the rewrite, and just did my first copy/paste from the original draft. Okay, so it was like three sentences, and only one ended up staying pretty much the same, but still. Progress!

Soon, soon there will be more copying/pasting from the old draft to the new. I hope. And then you will see the word count revision meter go up by leaps and bounds.

Oh, and I snippeted the mirror image of this scene back when I was writing Draft 1. Seems only fair I snippet this one as well:

~Snippet~ )

Whoo-Hoo!

Jun. 9th, 2009 11:25 am
rhienelleth: (Default)
Wow, I've reached 10K on the Nemesis rewrite!

There were times I thought that would never happen. I'm sooooooo happy with how this is going! I'm hoping to be done with the major part of the rewrite by Friday. You know, the first five chapters. From there, it should be more editing/tweaking/revision, less wholesale rewrite. Although the epiphany I had last week about the universe as a whole will require more work than it would have pre-epiphany.

A line doesn't really count as much of a snippet, but here it is anyway:

She stood rooted to the spot, her head throbbing painfully, and every muscle in her body tense as the other telepath touched her mind with his, and put his hands on her.

There was something very proprietary in the way his fingers closed around her arms. She didn’t like that much.
rhienelleth: (Reaper)
The rewrite continues apace. I had to backtrack a little today and rework the, hmm, direction of the scene I was doing. I was writing it from a POV I haven't used much before, so I guess a learning curve was to be expected. (Reaper is very clear about what works for him, and what doesn't.)

In any case, if you count the backtrack, I wrote just under 2000 words today, and finished another chapter. Whoo-Hoo!

For the rewrite:


And broader revision:
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
Mercy Kincade.

I like it. It has a great sound together, unlike any of the other surnames I've tried for Mercy. However, it also has this vaguely familiar feel, and I hope I'm not borrowing from something I've read, and just don't remember. In the time since I've created and named Mercy, several books have popped up with MC's sporting that given name. But I don't care, I'm not changing that. She came to me with that name, and that's one of the few details I'd be completely unwilling to tweak. On the other hand, I've never been completely happy with any of the surnames I've tried to give her. "Kincade" meaning the head or front of the battle just works for me. 

Other revision notes:

~ Funny how one little question, "why did the Commonwealth exile the pirates instead of just trying to kill them all from the get go?" leads to lots of headslapping (yeah, I have no idea why that didn't occur to me, either), and then fixing that one background bit leads to lots (and lots) of unanticipated worldbuilding.

~ I know you all have seen my many cast icons for the space pirates before.  I know some of you may have recognized Megan Fox as Mercy.  When I picked those, I was very careful not to pick ones I thought of as her 'drop dead gorgeous' photos.  I wanted Mercy to be pretty, but not too pretty.  Of course, no such constraints when it came to casting the rest of the book.  But the revision called for a new Mercy icon, and this time around, I deliberately chose one of Ms. Fox's photos that I see as drop dead gorgeous.  One of the bits of advice that came out of the convo with the agent was "Don't be afraid to make her gorgeous. Still flawed, but gorgeous."  The icon is to remind me of that as I revise.

~ Holy epiphanies, Batman!  Oh....this has very little to do with Nemesis (other than some description notes), and everything to do with Consort.  Oh, yes.  OMG, I'm so excited by this, and I never would have thought about it without the domino effect started by that first bulleted revision note above.  *rubs hands together*

rhienelleth: (elysia2)
I've officially edited one third of the book. Not bad for a day's work. It's going much faster than I anticipated, and the story is really holding up well for me. Most of the edits are little sentence things, not big scene things. Usually, I hate editing because it's so much work, but this seems very smooth sailing to what I've had to do in the past. No major surgery going on.

And I'm really enjoying the story and the characters. A lot. That's got to be good, right?

Hmm, I may want one or two new betas for a second draft read through, if anyone is interested.

Revising

Oct. 11th, 2007 10:37 am
rhienelleth: (Default)
An editing I will go, an editing I will go...

Someone wiser than I pointed out to me that I should really have the book completely edited and ready to send out to an agent at the click of a mouse button, should one of them ask. So that's what I'm up to today. Editing. I'm trying to go with [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's method of tightening each sentence/paragraph, hopefully lowering word count a bit. I'll keep you posted on progress.

I have to say, there's a feeling of satisfaction that comes of looking back on a chapter or three and thinking "Oh, that's much better!"

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