Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Two Chapters Down

I'm really glad I put together that list of Nice Things People Said. It's good to have that reassurance while slogging through the trenches of "should I keep this line of dialog" and "really, how dumb can I be" and "what, exactly, is wrong with that sentence grrr harrumph pout."

I'm pleased with the progress. The first two chapters are tighter. I've added description where it was missing, tried to make motives more explicit, and to keep up more sense of momentum. With chapter 3, I'm going to start a minor rearrangement of events, which I hope will keep that going smoothly.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Starting Draft Four

I never used to do drafts. I used to just tweak things endlessly and forever and occasionally do a ground-up rewrite, which may or may not have fixed anything, because I had very little idea what I was doing.

Now I do drafts. Drafts have goals.
  1. I may or may not have an outline, but the goal is to get something, anything, out there. Result: one horrifically shitty first draft.
  2. Fix gaping structural flaws. Result: One continuous story.
  3. Fix the remaining problems I am capable of seeing for myself. Result: One story I am comfortable having other people read.
  4. Fix the problems the beta readers found. Result: (I hope) One story I am comfortable submitting to agents.
There are still a few readers yet to report in, but as I said the other day, I'm starting to descend into bathetic depths due to not having a project in front of me. I can't seem to focus on research while waiting on tenterhooks for critiques, so I'm setting about the work. Instead of being cranky because I'm not working on a book, now I'll be cranky when people ask me to do anything other than work on the book! That will be much better for everyone, I'm sure.

First, because I like good things, here are some of the positive things people said about the draft:
  • "very professional"
  • "amazing, awesome concept"
  • "interesting"
  • "nice energy"
  • "a grand adventure"
  • "powerful playing with language" (this might be my favorite compliment ever)
Yay for that. On the less cheering side, I have the following:
  • "way more way faster"
  • "tighten up the pacing"
  • MC's motives fuzzy
  • one reader had a big issue with my version of Gawaine
  • MC "slippery", "flip-flops"
  • sketchy description
  • "orientation issues"
  • "under-described"
  • "murky scene transitions"
  • MC "some depth missing" "don't always know where she stands"
  • some confusion on the magic system for one reader
  • finale "needs more fireworks"
  • "wanted connection to art tighter"
  • "want more drama in her life"
  • why not (villain) seduce her
  • "doesn't seem black"
  • need to know more about relationship with (other character)
Some of them, I'm just plain not going to touch. The villain isn't going to try to seduce the protagonist, at least not sexually, because I think that's predictable and therefore boring. I'm not going to try writing the character to sound "more black," for several reasons.

I'm of two minds about a suggestion to rearrange one significant plot point to come earlier in the book; given that only one person seemed to find the pacing a problem, I'm likely to move cautiously there.

I'm also of two minds about Gawaine. There are smallish things I can do that will improve his characterization, and a few more things I can do to explain the changes in it, but if anyone out there is reading this and expecting Excalibur, they're doomed to disappointment. I'm not at all sure how familiar most readers are with this material. People seem to like the BBC Merlin, which makes my revisioning of the Malory version look downright timid.

Murky scene transitions and readers not being able to figure out what's going on in the MC's head, though, those are issues I need to fix. Even if it's only a subset of readers who were bothered, it's the kind of thing where fixing it will only help everyone. Unfortunately, it's kind of the toughest thing to fix. I know what's going on in her head at all times, so it's really easy to be blind to what I'm failing to put on the page.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Things Had Best Improve from Here

The first week of March... sucked, there is nothing else to be said for it.
  • Writing - Complete feedback or not, I need to start this revision. Putting it off is making me even more neurotic than usual. I have printouts and many colors of pen at the ready.
  • Reading - Got back into The Glamour Factory, one of my research books for the alien novel. Read Soulless, the first of the Parasol Protectorate books, and found it delightful. If nothing else, this is looking like the year I finally get reading back into my life. 
  • The stove is finally gone; long live the stove. 
  • My stand mixer broke. *cries softly*
  • Workouts have been more consistent, though my speed is not improving. 
  • I got a raise. Living in the vague state of financial dread that precedes getting our taxes done, and I have the strong suspicion that a car repair lies in our near future. I will never be a full-time writer; I couldn't handle the stress of that much financial uncertainty.
  • Although I didn't do most of the photography stuff I had planned for February, I did finally put the Christmas pictures online.

The March goal is supposed to be decluttering -- tackle closets, weed through things we have too much of, that kind of thing. Given the flop that was the February goal, I'm not holding out much hope, but I suppose it could happen. I did clean out the downstairs entryway during a bout of stress cleaning last weekend.

Here's hoping that the second week involves an upswing.