Wednesday, August 8, 2012

in progress

I've spent a lot of time in the past few weeks editing my book. Some of the edits have been as simple as cleaning up the formatting. Some of them have involved changing names or reorganizing sentences. And it has finally come to the point where i may need to trash an entire story.

The idea was good. I took a classic fairy tale trope (three princesses who are sisters, oldest gets married and she and her husband disappear on their wedding day, same thing happens to second sister, no one knows what's going on). I changed it around so that, rather than random fairy mischief or giants trying to eat virgins, it was a deliberate scheme to torture and humiliate humans for sport, in order to show the depravity and cruelty of the fairies while moving the larger plot forward.

But somewhere along the lines, everything went completely off the rails. I introduce a talking cat. What? None of my other stories have talking animals. The presence of this particular animal is never fully explained. There is no explanation for why she can talk, why she is hiding in a series of caves between the two countries, or why she is helping humans. She only appears in a few scenes and only as a sort of confusing deus ex machina. In fact, the entire conclusion is a very long, very confusing, very silly deus ex machina. Furthermore, once you get past the initial set-up, there's not a whole lot happening.

I think it's time to go back to my classic editing trick: strip the story down to its barest bones and start rebuilding. It's also time for one of my favorite writing tools: reading. Pull out the masters and see how they did it. Study J. K. Rowling's intricately linked plots, J. R. R. Tolkien's brilliant exposition of the obvious, Neil Gaiman's teasing of hints and foreshadowing. But it's a lot harder to read subtly at work, whereas editing a Word document looks exactly like work. So i may have to be creative.

Below is an excerpt of two of the worst parts, for your entertainment:

Just then, the door burst open, and through it came Rhynesh.
          “Imposter!” the second Rhynesh screamed, pointing at the one seated next to Grace. That one leaped to his feet.
          “How dare you accuse me of being an imposter, when you are clearly –” He was interrupted by the other bringing both hands up over his head and heaving them forward, as if throwing a heavy ball. The first Rhynesh burst into flame for a split second; then the flames went out and Nareena stood in their place. Grace gasped and jumped to her feet.
          “You – you – ” Rhynesh sputtered. Nareena gave him an evil grin and cast a spell of her own. One of his legs turned into a giant cucumber. He shot a second spell at her, and her hair, usually long and straight and scarlet, suddenly turned a vivid purple and developed springy curls that counced all around her head, obscuring her vision.
          Grace ran.

Bursting into her bedroom, she ordered the princes to turn around, and she quickly changed into work clothes while gasping out her story. “This may be our only chance, so let’s take it!”
          Curtis, much to everyone’s surprise, produced a sturdy rope and began tying it to the door handle.
          The window was just wide enough to admit them. One by one, they climbed down: first Peter, then Grace, then Almanzo, then Emily, then Curtis, and then Tess. As soon as they were all on the ground, they ran for the woods. Peter found the tree with no trouble and they all crowded down the trunk, through the tunnel, and into the cave, where Enid and Matilda waited. Neither of them seemed surprised by the intrusion. Matilda did not look as though she had wits enough to be surprised by anything, and Enid was a cat. After blinking a few times and offering them all warm milk, Enid turned to Grace.
          “Did you bring the book?”
          Grace dropped it gently on the floor in front of the cat. Enid nosed through it briefly. “A great help to magicians,” she mused. “Yes. Yes, this should do it.” She closed her eyes and bowed her head, sitting still for three quarters of a minute. Finally, she looked up. “Rhynesh and Nareena have forgotten about you. It will be years before they stop fighting again and focus on Draymore."

No comments:

Post a Comment