Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Happy Accident and an Unfortunate Reality

Last night, I printed out the story I had submitted a couple of times late last year. I thought I had printed the final version I sent out. I ripped into it, merrily cutting and revising per my thoughts on the feedback it received from one editor. As I got to the last line, something buzzed in my brain, asking me where a particular exchange was that I thought I had put into the story. I went through and looked for it, but couldn't find it. I did a mental shrug and assumed it had been in an earlier draft.

Then, today, I was printing out two other stories that I want to revise and kick out the door when I noticed a later draft of the story I worked on yesterday. Opened it up and, sure enough, there was the half-remembered dialog. I quickly read through the draft, making sure there was no other major changes that I needed. There weren't. Looking back at the draft I worked with yesterday and the one I found today, I like the earlier draft better. Much better. In fact, the stuff I added in to that later draft just clunked horribly and raised more questions than it answered.

After one last look through of the story with the revisions I made yesterday, I'll send that sucker out and feel much better about its quality.

While it was nice to have a mistake turn out to be a blessing in disguise, I wasn't so lucky earlier this week with regard to Carson's Learning, that novelette that made me more than a little nuts last year. It's been nine months since I looked at this thing, and boy-oh-boy did the distance do me good.

CL is absolute and utter crap. I'm embarrassed that I sent it out in the state it's in. Don't get me wrong, the nuts and bolts of the words aren't too bad, and the overall story is still there and good. But I've thrown eveything but the kitchen sink at my protagonist in less than 15,000 words, and I have next to no transitions to speak of. Between those two flaws, I have created a protagonist that seems disconnected from everything I shoved at him, heartless in the face of his backstory, and overall rather inconsistent. Also, I have jerked the reader around continuously by having them ask one story question in one scene, only to force them to ask another in the next scene.

Bad, bad, Kellie.

I went back to the basics with this story, getting to the heart of the conflict, looking at turning points, etc. I've got all of the elements of that sort mapped out in a clear way, but now that I'm crystal on who my protagonist is, what he wants, who my antagonist is, and how what that character wants drives the tension, I'm looking at a rough outline that in no way resembles the story as it stands now. In fact, I have an outline of turning points that I simply can't translate into an actual plot at the moment. I keep hoping that my subconcious or my muse will mull over the problem and spit out the answer any midnight now. But nothing yet. If anything, I'm getting more excited about the novel that I want to write with these characters later on in the timeline than I am about revising CL. Sigh.

That's the state of my writing today. Hopefully by the end of next week, I'll have revised all of the other short pieces and identified the markets where I can submit them. Then I'll be ready to get back into Shadow of Zehth, knowing that I've done all I can to bring in money with my writing at the moment.

2 comments:

Andi said...

When you can, I'm finding that putting YEARS of distance between a draft and a revision is the most brilliant idea ever.

I'm revising What the Mind Sees now, and it's embarrassing. I thought my red pen edits were solid, but even those aren't all useful. I've actually abandoned that, for the moment, and I'm revising as I go and thanking the universe I thought to do this before sending it out (as I was considering).

Gielle is a whining child, Irif's 2 opening scenes make no sense, there are dialogue tags everywhere (all pretty much "said" but still not good)...it's pathetic.

But at least it's now moving in the right direction. *-*

Kellie said...

Oh, good. Then in a decade I'll finally know what to do with my first novel, Human Dignity.