Checking In, or “Where in the World is Dave?”
February 28, 2015 § 1 Comment
So, um, it’s been awhile. Where the hell did I go?
In a nutshell, #amwriting.
And working the day job. And reading. And trying to survive the winter without succumbing to cabin fever.
When last I checked in, I’d just finished reading William Gibson’s The Peripheral. When I last posted an update on my novel, it was way back in October, when I talked about cutting 22,000 words from the manuscript.
Was it a mistake? Did I end up trashing the book, drinking an entire bottle of cheap whiskey, and giving up my hopes and dreams of ever becoming a published author?
Just the opposite, actually; I kept writing the book, drank an entire bottle of good whiskey (not in one sitting), and kept a tenacious grip my dreams. And you know what?
Cutting that huge chunk of words was the best decision I’ve made—better than I predicted five months ago, actually.
In addition to dropping the excess baggage, I ended up expanding the point-of-view characters from a very limiting two to a generous six. They’re all very different characters, too, with different attitudes and ways of speaking. The most fun is the “villain” (another bonus—I didn’t really have a villain before), a foul-mouthed corporate misanthrope who is an utter blast to write.
These new points of view twisted the story and took it in new directions. The walk-on parts suddenly became living, breathing people that (I hope) you care about. Very bad things happen to a few of them, and others do very bad things, all of which would have been footnotes in the previous version. Now they have much more impact.
By cutting the flashback chapters entirely (and, therefore, all of the back story), I made the story more compelling. Now the back story comes out gradually, and in a more natural manner, as it comes up in conversation between characters.
But the biggest bonus I didn’t realize until last week: by cutting the back story, I cut the romance between two of the main characters. To borrow Casablanca as an example, the old draft showed Rick and Ilsa’s ill-fated Parisian romance from start to finish. The new draft is more the way it appears in the movie; hinted at, talked about, fought over—but never shown. (Unlike Bogie, my jilted lover has no flashback sequence.)
Why is this a good thing? People like romance, after all. It’s good drama. It creates tension and gives you something to root for, hoping the star-crossed lovers will find each other in the end and live happily ever after.
Yes, but …
To be brutally honest, I suck at writing romance. I hated those scenes. They felt flat, boring, one-dimensional. I had no idea how to fix them, and realizing last week that I didn’t have to rewrite them made me feel great.
So I hate writing romance and love writing a misanthrope. That … probably doesn’t say good things about me as a person.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. I’m still writing, and the book is going well. I hope you can say the same.