Let the Re-Write Begin!

I am re-writing.  Finally.

No more excuses.  No more indulgent distractions.  Time to buckle down and get going on the re-write.

Rachel’s backstory, though not actually in the novel, was my first task.  Something I had wanted to do following reading Jeter’s “Infernal Devices.”  The whole “inherit a clockshop” thing seemed a little too trite, too cliche.  So Rachel now has a new and better backstory.  Much darker and dangerous than previously.  Even better motivation than finding your fortune in the American Colonies… fleeing a dangerous conspiracy in England.  Unfortunately, Rachel and Clarence are only going to find themselves embroiled in even deeper intrigues.  Sort of “out of the frying pan an into the fire” type of thing.  Can’t let the two of them off that easy now can I?

NoNaNoWriMoForMeOh

No NaNoWriMo for me this year.  I enjoyed it last year and found it a challenging and rewarding experience.  Rewarding in the sense of personal accomplishment but also the first 50,000 words of the West Wind.  Considering it took me 6 more months to write another 50,000, it truly was a great experience.

Instead, I am going to buckle down and tackle the rewrite of the West Wind. NaNo would just turn into another month long excuse not to get cracking.  I have been doing well enough distracting myself with short stories (I have convinced myself it is good for honing my editing skills).  I think I need a month of NaNoEditMo!

So for the folks that are going to take take up the challenge, whether for the first time or more, I wish you best of luck.  Enjoy and I will see you next year…

Revision & Editing… My Approach (Part 2)

Picking up where I left off in the prior post on my approach for content editing (or is it revision…somebody give me a shout so I don’t continue to insult the real professionals that know what they are doing!).

3.  Update my scene synopsis.  I went through all of the scenes in Scrivener and updated the synopsis.  If you haven’t figured out by now that I am a bit of a Scrivener fanboy!  Sorry.  As I was saying, the early chapters were dead on, the later… well, they needed more help.  The goal was to be able to find a way to print them out, or transfer them to something, where I can fiddle around with their order.  Syncing with Index Card on the iPad via AirDrop was a possibility, but I thought that may not give me the tools I need.  Focusing on the synopsis though, I found some of them really needed work – they were either too vague to be useful or too long and detailed to be of any use regardless of what I chose to do.

4a.  Re-build my timelines.  I started the story with timelines I developed at the recommendation of Stackpole’s “21 Days to a Novel.”  I am certain I took it farther than was ever suggested, but that is just the way I clack.  My original timelines, as I mentioned earlier, were completely out of whack the closer I got to the end of the story.  That, and I switched over to a Mac to use the official released version of Scrivener resulting in the obsolescence of the Visio diagrams on my PC.  It was easy enough to rebuild in OpenOffice Draw and I now have a template for next time.  I have three POV characters and each chapter I wrote had three scenes mimicking a short story format – I thought of each chapter as a short story.  The time line became three boxes for the first character followed by three more boxes offset and below for the second, and finally three boxes offset and below for the third POV character.  I added a few more boxes at the top for my “world” character and cut loose with copy/paste to generate all 26 chapters of three scenes in rotating character POV (whew!)

4b. Put all of the Synopsis in the timeline.  Scrivener has a compile function for notecards (only took me an hour to find it…).  It was a snap to generate an OpenOffice document containing only synopsis and associated chapter/scene headings.  More copy/paste later and I had my updated timeline.  Did I mention that I was a bit of a Scrivener fan boy?

So by now you probably have gotten the sense that I am a bit of an over analytical nerd…now what?  (more to come)

Revision & Editing – My Approach

After noodling it around a bit I think I at least have a plan of attack, an approach, a Strategy if you will, for going about this whole revision and editing thing.  I fell into a process for writing that seemed to work quite well.  That was pre-blog so you will just have to trust me on it.  Hopefully, the same will happen for the revision and editing.  I am putting it out there for comment, criticism, and for fear that if I don’t write it down, I will not remember it the next time.

The problems I need to address, or that I am hoping this approach will solve, are from the first draft taking over almost a full year to complete.  And from not entirely knowing what I was doing.  The things that could have been avoided by being a *little* more diligent in keeping a “bible” we not avoided… character descriptions morphing, locations being renamed, multiple feints at backstory, etc.  FWIW: I blame NaNoWriMo for that!  The plot also went off in its own direction as well, the whole second half was quite a ways away from what I originally envisioned.  I blame my writing instructor for that – she suggested I write the ending before writing the last half of the book.  It was an excellent suggestion that I *strongly* recommend to others!  Had I not done that, I would probably still be writing the first draft.  There were also things that happened out of order so that they would fit into the self imposed chapter and scene structure.  There is also way too much backstory at the beginning that I would like to move to flashbacks.  All-in-all mostly content issues.   Add to that three POV characters with intertwined storylines and over 120k words which I have no one to else to blame but myself.

Here’s what I am doing:

1. Do nothing.  Yeah, I have heard this quite a bit.  Don’t start editing until you are done writing (check) (though it escapes me why this is not self evident).  More importantly, lock the first draft away for a month or two to distance yourself from it.  Considering it took me a year to write, there are some parts that are more distant than others!  For someone who barely remembers what he had for lunch yesterday I think two months might have been a bit excessive.  My plan of getting caught up on reading during this time fizzled and I found myself writing and editing a short story.

2. Keywords (aka Tagging).  I am using Scrivener that as a really nice tagging capability.  Essentially you can create any keyword (or keyword hierarchy for the overly detail oriented types) and assign those keywords to scenes.  Clicking on the keyword in the “keyword browser” brings up all of the scenes that have been tagged with the keyword.  Really cool.  I created keywords for all of the locations, POV characters, minor characters, extras, means of transportation, etc.  A few more I might add would include character description, character backstory, gadget, etc.  The idea being that I can update a particular detail and have the tool to keep it consistent across all of the occurrences.  So the next time you find your character’s appearance changing and it is not related to the plot – try out the keywords.

… and because I can never say anything in a few words where many will suffice… more to come…

Ready to Edit… now what…

I finished writing and editing a short story.  It was good exercise for editing, particularly since I was working on getting the total word count down below a fixed amount.

I did content editing first, making  sure that the story hung together and made sense.  I rewrote the ending to make it more exciting, deleted sections that really didn’t move the story forward, etc.

Then moved on to line editing.  Deleting all those pesky “had” or “has been” words that didn’t do anything useful other than increase my word count.  I do need to keep an eye on the language because of the steampunk style which should be a bit more flowery prose.

So all that was good practice.  But now looking at a whole novel to edit and I feel more than just a little intimidated.  I stalled it a little by updating synopsis and tagging the scenes, but I have run out of excuses and need to wade in.  I have no idea what to do that…

“The West Wind” – A Steampunk Adventure set in the Old West

Un-sticking this post…

Status as of 10/23/11  11/26/11 1/29/12 11/23/12: Putting the rewrite “on hold”

It is the summer of 1912 and the western frontier of the British American Colonies is a pressure cooker of intrigues fueled by greed, resentment, and the need for revenge in this steampunk adventure dominated by plots and power struggles between rich and powerful industrialists. It is a world of massive floating mansions, horses, stagecoaches, airships, private railroad cars, dusty western towns, flying machines, and a traveling mechanical freak show.

Dramatis personæ:

Roland Pritchard – a true success story of Her Majesty’s American Colonies having built an extensive railroad empire that is the backbone of industrial development in the western frontier.

Eli Hardy – the only child of Jakob Hardy, recently returned from studying abroad (something more controversial) and is confronted by the real truth behind his father’s success.

Rachel West – an apprentice clock maker (something less banal) has emigrated fled to the American Colonies in search of a place where she and with her half brother Clarence will be accepted for who they are and not what society dictates. to escape a deadly conspiracy only to find herself embroiled in even more dangerous intrigues.

Rachel and Clarence West – Unintended Consequences

Rachel West and her half-brother Clarence are by far the favorite characters of my early readers, classmates, and writing group. My first alpha reader, my thirteen year old daughter’s best friend, liked them so well that she did sketches for me. I posted them below – she is amazingly talented. Before you start rolling your eyes… yes their story starts in a clock shop, a steampunk trope or, as I would prefer to think of it: a “genre touchstone.” Regardless, I am going to hang a lantern on it… a gas lantern of course. Here is more about Rachel and Clarence:

Rachel was adopted off the streets of London by Hamilton West and made an apprentice in his clock shop because he knew his own son, Clarence, would never be capable of succeeding him the business.

Clarence is a kind and sensitive young man, but lacks the physical and mental capacity to perform complex tasks such as constructing or repairing clockwork.

Unfortunately, Hamilton dies prior to sponsoring Rachel’s application as a journeyman clockmaker putting her in the precarious position of owning a clock shop in the East End that lacks a journeyman or master horologist.

Rachel struggles with her obligation to Clarence, the memory of Hamilton, and her growing realization that she will never make the clock shop successful because of her continued status as an apprentice and her gender.

With the naïvety born from reading too many penny dreadfuls, Rachel sets out for the American Territories in search of a new life for her and Clarence where she believes she will be recognized for her gifts with clockwork and treated as an equal.

Of course… nothing could be farther from the truth.

Rachel West

Rachel West

Clarence West

Clarence West