The Sweet Bastard Progress

I fought it for as long as I could, but my book, she’s been a-changin’.

November was a busy month of writing for me, but I hit a stall when I realized that one particular interaction between two of the main male characters wasn’t exactly believable and went so far as to set the tone of their entire following relationship askew. Namely, they start getting along right after meeting. This is silly for several reasons. On a basic level they are very similar people but come from wholly incompatible social backgrounds: Ben from the privilege (if not sizable material wealth) of idyllic religious and scholastic stock, and Taeda from the pragmatism of the hard-bitten and deeply jaded lower caste.  This alone leaves them a few good reasons to be completely at odds with each other, but add to this the circumstances of their meeting (one more or less arrests the other) and it becomes a rather foolish premise. I left it foolish for a long time simply because I didn’t know how to make it believable and still have the story keep pace: the last thing I wanted was page after page of two dudes working out their personal issues like a bitter married couple at the therapist.

1334251352_Lets_Hug_It_Out_Bro_gag

“Hug it out, bro.”

To avoid such dire exposition, a few days ago I completely reworked the chain of events both before and after the duo’s meeting. The progress made was very much the product of hours of obsessing over the classic eight point story arc. This page at Fictionista Workshop was especially helpful, and I’ll recommend it to anyone looking for good examples of traditional writing structure. I’m very pleased with the results, even if it does mean that I’ll have to rewrite pretty much all of my existing hundred pages. They are not bad pages, but they are sadly rendered irrelevant by the changes. As daunting as it is to have to go back and re-write so much, I’m not quite so paralyzed by the idea of starting completely over as I would be having to go through and pull just the right strings and tweak just the right dialogues to accommodate change.

I topped off the new outline with the conveniently tragic death of a secondary character to spur personal motivations along and give the political tension some undercurrent, as well. Don’t let my cavalier tone fool you–I totally cried when I marked him off the outline.

Kind of like this.

I’ve decided that at some point it will be time to put the story back on Book Country. That in itself will be a big and potentially scary move. I had a draft up there for a few months last year and while it got a lot of reviews and likes/recommendations and several badges for being a consistently popular destination, the encouragement did not really lend itself to a stable working environment. I was demoralized by negative reviews, overwhelmed by sometimes overly thorough reviews that outlined dozens of improvement points, and was on more than one occasion left frustrated and indignant by the petty retaliation that is inevitable with such a small community of active members (after leaving what I had intended to be a polite criticism on one writer’s book, she immediately graced my own review board with a bitter diatribe that had more to do with her own hurt feels than my draft).

But re-posting will be a long time from now. I intend to post only after completing the story’s first installment, although if I wind up happy enough with the completed work I might be self-publishing after a lengthy and likely soul-crushing bout with a professional editor. More updates on the soul-crushing later…

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7 thoughts on “The Sweet Bastard Progress

  1. George Copeland says:

    Keep scribbling. Those reversals-as-outcome-of-reflection are themselves a positive sign. Means you have the stuff to be a writer who is honest with herself. That is the sine qua non of all good writers, that self-aware clarity of vision, the ability to spot your own weaknesses. If you need a gander at what your dismissal of that function would sadly and inevitably produce, hie thee to a writer’s group:behold! unchained ego and self-indulgent screed awaits you with soporific intent and an end to your good writing. So keep up with the perfectionist climb. It’ll get you where you want to go.

    By the way. Sent my Otto Sicko off for independent copy-editing. Got a return note that said, among other things: “This was some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. The last chapter was the best last chapter I’ve ever read. The last paragraph was the best last paragraph I’ve ever read. The last sentence was the finest last sentence I’ve ever read. Ever. Fucking brilliant!”

    I don’t know what to make of it.

    Now. Back to work.

  2. Piscis says:

    (FEELINGS!)

    I didn’t know that Book Country was a thing. Looks interesting (but I can definitely see how the shortcomings you mention would crop up).

    Way to make a hard change to drive your story ahead! How has the rewriting gone since then?

    • Proseia says:

      I”ll be honest, it’s been a little slow. Anytime I make big changes, I have to sit on them a while before I write them out–can’t tell if it’s an attempt not to get ahead of myself or just lack of confidence. =P

      Thanks for stopping in! Really liked your Interlude piece, by the way–couldn’t help picturing a murder mystery at an old mansion when I heard it. xD

      • Piscis says:

        Ooh, I like that interpretation; it fits with the semi-Victorian feel it ended up having.

        Here’s to hoping the ideas (or confidence) sort themselves out sooner rather than later!

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