My Life In Neon

Sci Fi / Fantasy writer Autumn Nicole Bradley – Dream in digital, live in neon

Archive for the month “March, 2010”

The Last Leg

After a month of moderate progress and much distraction, I am officially in the final leg of Root of the First. The file size is under the goal of 600 pages, and there’s still more that’s pre-ordained for cutting. So not only will I reach my goal of getting it under 600 pages, I’ll beat it. Possibly by a fairly large margin.

It was a bit slower going than I had hoped. I was thinking I’d be at this point nearly a month ago. But on my most recent read-through, I realized just how much maudlin crap was weighing down the third quarter of the book. In some parts, it was clear that it took so long to write that I had just plain old forgot that I had just covered that same information 2 chapters earlier. Other parts, it seems like I didn’t think the audience got the point the first time I said something, and repeated it three more times in different chapters.

There’s an important lesson there, that related directly to the theme of the novel. When I was drafting it, I obviously didn’t think I had made the theme apparent by the actions of the characters, so I reinforced it with a lot of heavy, needless narrative and dialog. Part of me is glad it was there to be cut, since it helped remind me what the scenes were really about. And it also gave me plenty of room to cut without digging too deeply into the plot.

In this most recent revision, I decided to cut a character from the ending that used to be there. Originally, he reunited with the group. But now, I keep the group separated and end his story a little differently to set up for the sequel. I wrote the section in a fairly self-contained way, so that his entire “end plot” can be pushed off to book 2 if need be. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger either way, and it cleans up the plot a fair bit to keep it at the end of book 1, but exactly when it takes place chronologically is pretty negotiable. So if that gets cut, there’s at least another 60 pages.

The home stretch is going to be the hardest of all. While I have renewed enthusiasm, I also just got my hands on the Unity3D Iphone development license, so I need to focus a bit more time on that. I also need to almost completely rewrite the last hundred pages of the book from scratch. I rearranged the end plot so much that there’s not much salvageable text left. Sad but true, but I think the new stuff will be so much better that it’ll be more than worth it!

Transitions and Flow

So, in the book there’s a concept I refer to as the Amaya, and it’s a kind of “flow” that all things have as they change. Ironic, I think, since the biggest problem I encountered in the past week was that I had three sections of the book that no longer flowed.

It started when I checked out Write or on the recommendation of someone I met on a film shoot of all places. The premise of the site is simple: You set a timer, and a word goal, and in Kamikaze Mode, if you don’t keep up with the writing, the words unwrite themselves. Yeah, they just start disappearing off the page. It’s meant as a way to keep you focused on the task at hand, and it certainly does that. But at what cost?

Flow. Yes, the ideas that I churned out “worked,” you could say, in that most of them are more-or-less intact. But the time I saved blasting the words on the page cost me a lot of time in the back end as I spent much of the week and into the weekend mulling over how to fix it so it all made sense. In fact, even after my grand scheme replotting so that one scene flowed smoothly into the next, I overlooked a glaring error: At one point, a character has to stop to open the door toward themselves, putting their life in danger. Only to have that same character barricade the door from the other side. While comical (in fact, I may go back and re-add it at some point), the narrative demanded that they escape their pursuers at this point or else things just kind of break down.

Not to mention that the three problem scenes, taken together, are an info dump worthy of the Matrix their prior state. That was the biggest mess to clean up; the information vomit covering the pages. Too much in too short a span. It’s like I found myself channeling the spirit of Ayn Rand. (Ok, so it wasn’t a 90 page lecture on why charity is evil, but you get the picture.)

In short, I found that writing quickly may have gotten it onto the page faster, but I didn’t really care much for what I got. And that was with a plan going in. I can’t imagine how awful (or how much would have been unwritten while I considered) what came out would have been if I didn’t know what I wanted the scene to be about.

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