Editing and One Bad Line (Glimpsing Glimpses)

So it’s been a bit of a stalled week in working terms. Not a huge amount of editing done on the book at the moment as I’m trying to crack the the back of this particular hump. They come and go, and I’m thinking that the beginning parts of the story are perhaps a little more underdeveloped because they’re closer to the original draft, whereas the later parts became more developed as the ideas unfolded. Fingers crossed.

Perhaps the most mind numbing element of having to do all this editing and rewriting is that you end up reading your own work repeatedly, to the point that you just feel so tired you shut down and go and do something else. That’s what ousted me from the cafe and I went home where it was hard to get anything more done.

One piece of advice that I heard on editing your own work is to read it to yourself out loud. Apparently (I haven’t tried it just yet) it helps you to discern whether or not the sentence works, especially if you’ve been going over and over it until it feels like your brain is melting. I’ll certainly be giving it a try when I’ve finished the chapter I’ve been working on as its had a lot of edits and needs to be checked for how well it flows.

And as I said, it was a bit of a slack week work wise, but I did catch up some books that I wanted to read. Working my way through some fantasy series I came across an example of editing gone wrong, and this is not meant as disrespect to the author as I enjoyed his work. No, it was just this line jarred me hard:

“He could scarce blink without glimpsing some shredded glimpse of their ordeal.”

Given how huge this guys work was, there’s going to be a bum line somewhere, and as a writer you can’t be too careful about editing. Hell, I’ll probably be reading my own work for the tenth time and still find lines like this that aren’t right. It’s also probably a reflection on the fact that writers are expected to do their own editing more and more as the publishing industry looks to cut costs. It seems that these days, no matter what you do for a living, you have to make more effort than ever. So, edit edit edit.

(Briefly About) Dynamics, Clarity and Tension

Recently I came across some Youtube videos about action films which prompted me to think about certain scenes that appeared in my own work, such as the is the dynamics between characters, their interactions and the meanings that are generated. A key scene I had written was really quite flat until I introduced another character and highlighted the urgency of the task set for my protagonist, and as I proceed through the redrafting, I come across pieces of narrative that need attention. For example, the reluctant kidnapper scene near the beginning of Part 2 was really nothing special, but with a little adjustment and some exploration of how he lost his job, the scene becomes  tense (I hope).

I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this, but I think that the videos are in themselves quite interesting. I was particularly struck by how even the simplest cinematography can work so well to make the story clearer, more dynamic and give it more feeling.

By a strange co-incidence I had just been asked about the links between myth and cinema and having watched the video about the Terminator I was struck by what a great example it was of the principles that make up so many of the narrative structures of modern action movies. Having dug out the scraps of work about this that have accumulated I think that it might be possible for me to put a little book together about it. Terminator will certainly be a case study. To summarise it I would say that the core idea is that the central ideas revolve around Time, Marriage, Heroes (as saviours of fertile marriage and thus society) and something that seeks to destroy fertility and society (be it a robot, a shark or an alien). There is a lot more, but that’s for later.

Anyhew, these videos are worth checking out:

So there you have it. There’s plenty to think about in terms of narratives and especially the way that we convey tension, dynamics and meaning. To do it successfully, to do it with clarity, that’s one of the real arts of writing.

A Snowball’s Chance

Where does the time go? I find it hard to believe that I’ve been working on this project for so long and still haven’t finished. With so much time spent working on the book I neglected the blog but there wasn’t really any news to speak of, no new insights into the writing process beyond the continual process of going over and over the story. Writing is rewriting as they say.

With the second draft now completed it’s clear that the first 70% is realtively stable but that the last 30% is still in flux – as a brand new drafting it’s going to require lots more work, especially to have a finale worth the wait. Once that’s done it’ll go out to my chosen few for test reading while I concentrate on writing a proposal and finding an agent. I’ve already attempted to draft two of the mind bending tasks required in pitching the book: one is the little author bio that you get just inside the cover and the other is summing up your story in one to two paragraphs in such a way that people will read it and say to themselves “I want to read this!”

It’s a test of compacting as much meaning and excitement into as little space as possible.

On the other hand, I’d like to do something that’s a little bit of fun too, probably a little mini series set in the same world as my main book. I’ll post a link if it comes together, but I like the ideas, in part brought on by reading the graphic novel Rumble, and I’ve mixed them with a few oddities that I jotted down a month or two ago.

So for now I’m just trying to accelerate the pace and wtih changes in my circumstances it is getting easier to work regularly. With the new year I feel like the snowball is gathering momentum and as part of it I thought I’d be good to give this blog another chance.

Maybe I’ll even come up with a catchphrase to sign off my posts 😉