Sunday, July 02, 2006

Finally Getting Somewhere

I've been having the same blasted dream for a couple of weeks, and it was driving me crazy. In essence, I would be stranded somewhere with two big strong guys, whom I trusted. I would be beat up in some way that prevented me from walking effectively (broken hip, smashed knee, you get the idea). It would be a matter of life and death to get out of where we were - and for the final kicker - I would be, for some unknown reason, unable or unwilling to tell these big strong gents that I couldn't bloody walk. The dreams largely consisted of dragging myself along with the aid of a staff, or walls, or whatever else happened to be about, while my companions were preoccupied with finding our way out - assuming that I was in pain, but capable of limping along.

Pretty nonsensical, but that's a dream for you. The point wasn't hard to figure out though. I just needed to realize which aspect of my life was stuck, where I had the necessary help, and yet couldn't or wasn't using it.

I finally pulled GD - my first novel out of the closet, and have started the rewrite. Interestingly, the dreams stopped (at least I haven't had one in three nights now) almost immediately thereafter. My various first-line readers seem to have given me a ton of advice, some conflicting, but much of it helpful. I also find it telling that the most common person to appear in my dream as a companion was Sensei - who was also one of my first-line readers. None of my other readers showed up, that would have been too easy to figure out I guess - or perhaps it's just that none of the rest of them are strong enough to pick me up.

The rewrite is going well. I've only actually rewritten a few paragraphs so far. First I'm reading through myself, and trying to proof, look for cliched or poorly worded stuff, and trying to condense commentary from five readers onto one copy, so I can work on the computer with only one stack of paper beside me. After all at 273 pages, five copise would be a pretty intimidating stack of paper.

My big issues thus far 1) a tendancy to revert to default positions if I haven't thought out my world well. I.e. when Kira takes a test, it looks very much like a modern day college exam at a high-tech school, rather than something you would see 500 years in the future. Places where the plot intercedes avoid this, but it happens a lot in small things. 2) A tendancy to short-hand cliches. When I'm writing fast, I tend to use the common phrase rather than hunt for the perfect one. Perfectly allowable in a rough draft - killer if left in. 3) Gaps in the plot, where I skipped ahead because I got stuck. This one is a function of NaNo. When trying to write a novel in a month, you simply don't have time to stop and work out all details. If you know A, and you know C, but you don't know B, you just skip ahead (at least I do), and if B occurs to you later, than you go back and fill in. Many of my gaps did get filled in while I was still in NaNo mode, but many didn't. I need to figure out which need to be written in, and which can be handled with a quickie bridge (...three months later...)

Last, but far from least, I need to backfill my ending. Since I only actually decided on my ending in the last few chapters, it doesn't always lead logically from the earlier stuff. Since I like my ending, I need to go back and rewrite said earlier stuff so it all hangs together well. No more having the big baddie walk in from nowhere three chapters from the end.

I'm working away hard on this now. If I can, I'd like to have this version done by the 17th when my brother comes to visit. Failing that, I'd like to manage the 25th, which is when the family reunion starts. I have at least two prospective second-line readers in my family (trust me, my family doesn't gush over tripe. They're tough.) that I would like to be able to give copies to at the reunion. If I can finish by the 17th, then my brother can give me a once over so I can correct any doozies before then - he was one of my first-line readers.

After the second-line readers report back, then I start the hard part - putting together a presentation package, and convincing myself to send this puppy out into the cold cruel world.

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