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FF Sparks (Casual)

[LastPage] First Editing Round, Writing Thoughts

As some of you know, shadowfey and I have been coauthoring a novel called The Last Page, using a bit of an experimental process. We rough out scenes together, and then edit them into proper prose format, and pass them back and forth for further editing. This has allowed a great deal of work to be done on the story, to the tune of about 60,000 words in roughly two weeks. As a novel for a first-time author tends to be between 100,000 and 120,000 words, from what I understand, this is a fairly significant chunk of a book!

It is nice to feel the story flowing so readily each time we sit down to extend the plot and add more scenes. I have come to realize that while I am at least passably good with ideas, my problem is that when I get writer's block I tend to hit my head on a wall instead of just plowing ahead. Co-authoring seems to counter this, because if I hit a writers-block pothole, the other person can help get me past it, and vice versa. The practical upshot of which is that we haven't gotten hung up on writers block at all, allowing a lot of story to flow quickly.

The downside, of course, is the editing backlog we're amassing! With Fey's desktop having met an untimely demise and thus stalled us slightly, I decided to step up and work on editing the backlog myself, doing a first pass rather than tossing it back and forth. I am hoping that by July, I will have been able to revise all that we have and can put it together into a sane draft format.

Tonight, I tackled the opening, and tossed a snippet out onto the proofreader mailing list we have, in hopes of getting a little feedback. See, I'm not completely certain whether or not the story might flow better in first-person, now that I'm looking at it; we have only one viewpoint character, Timothy, and he's the only one whose inner thoughts are ever revealed. Still, it doesn't seem bad in third-person, even if I am starting to consider that first-person might be more effective.

(Fey, I'm going to try and do an entire pass over what we have -- keeping it third-person for now -- and break it up in a saner way, as well as tweaking some things in the earlier scenes, and then I'll toss the files back to you, hopefully by then you'll have your desktop back. Check over the scene on the proofreading list, to see if you think it flows better and has a natural scene break, and let me know. We'll talk more soon, since I think if we don't rein ourselves in a bit, we could conceivably go waaaaay over the 120,000 word mark.)

Meanwhile, I sleep now. Zzzz....

Comments

Yeah, I think that's a very real and valid problem. Considering the amount of plot I still have rummaging around in my head, well - we may want to restructure it, much as I hate to 'lose' any of what we've got.We're going to have to axe some stuff, but I'm not sure what.

Because, and don't laugh - I have enough material to keep us going on this for probably, oh, six, seven, eight times what we've got right now... easily.
I think more we just need to start towards an actual ending. I know between us we could put together enough to write easly a million words on this story, but there's no hope in hell it'd ever get published.

That aid, I'm trying to tighten things up a little as I go through with the editing, and also add more insight into Timothy's mindset.
Yeah. As it is, there's all these divergent plot threads, some of which I think will need to be just excised ruthlessly. I know the ending I had in mind, but we're still at this point such a long way away from it - we need to trim down what we've currently got somehow without sacrificing the vitality of any of the supporting cast.

On the plus side, I'm probably going to be doing a barebones replacement and seeing how many of my peripherals will transfer over - I do know the hard drive is intact. This'll probably be ordered this weekend as the beast has an exam on Friday. I have to see what sort exactly will be the best option for the least money (I hate unexpected expenses). This will make returning to writing and editing it much much easier.

I'm thinking the grocery store scene with Margaret should likely be shredded ruthlessly, btw - the interactions between her and Timothy in it can be preserved in a much smaller vignette and without the sideplot elements I was introducing a la the checkout girl. It's unnecessary complication at this point and will only distract from the main story, since we're running out of 'time' to go into it.
I'll see what I can do with the grocery scene, though I'm still vastly earlier in the story. We can always add the sidestory plotlines in later, but I think right now we should probably focus on Timothy, Margaret, Pietro and Gillian.

Though I suppose we can try to make this into multiple books. Just seems like a mistake for a first novel, even though we have a LOT of plot ideas and could easily make it a series. The world itself is nice, I think, and there /are/ lots of things we could still explore.
Flora is going to have to be kept in there to some extent, unfortunately - the information she has for Tim is going to be important. She and Gillian are the closest Tim has to real allies.

Pietro may have to be cut down a little bit - if we do more writing in this world, other books can always be about him/Margaret/etc. I suspect as long as we're ruthless enough about editing, we'll be okay - just need to keep the flavour while cutting down on some of the excessive chitchat, I suppose.

If you want, I'll select the chunk after the chunk you're working on - we can that way work consecutively and trade off for further polishing. Assembly line writing!
I forgot to include Flora in the list, yes. But you're right, Tim needs both of them. Pietro hasn't had enough scenes that there would be much to cut, though Tim's confrontation with him can probably be trimmed down a bit.

At this point, I'm sort of steaming along through at a pretty fair clip; I might as well do one full pass over the next day or two in order to clean up the scenes and break them properly into chapters. With luck I can have them done by the time you have your computer up and running again, and we can split up things on chapter breaks for any further editing. I mean, right now we hardly even have SCENE breaks in our roughs! :)
Yeah, the longest time sequence skip has been when Tim was /unconscious/. I don't know for sure when my computer will be up, just keep in mind - I'm hoping to order a barebones box Saturday or Sunday, then there's shipping, actual putting it together and installations, etc. There's a good chance if you keep it up at the present pace you'll be done with that by the time I'm back in action. :P

We'll probably want to alter the pacing to ... well ... not happen quite so absurdly fast. Though I suppose it could work just as well. Worst comes to worst, we stick 'em all in gentian sleep until we get it sorted out - right?
The lengthy exchange between Shadowfey and Sparks reminds me of a book I read called 'Imaginary Magnitude', by Stanislaw Lem. It's a collection of forewords, afterwords, introductions, prologues, and abstracts of other (fictional) books. Lem's point is that you tell an entire story by insinuation, based on the contents of the introductions and abstracts.

So when I read the two of you going back and forth, I'm reminded of Lem's story, where you only get hints about the shape of the plot based on the editorial comments. It's neat. :)