Tags: revision



 Hey guys.

Cutting to the chase: It's taken me nearly two years and a handful of rewrites, but I think Nemesis is finally where it needs to be.  Or, you know, firmly going where it needs to be.  It bears such faint resemblance to the original draft I sent to beta readers, I marvel now that I ever thought that draft "done" and "polished".  Along the way, I've gotten invaluable advice from beta readers, critique partners, industry professionals, and friends.  But at the end of the day, I'm the one that has to decide what makes the story good, and when and how to implement those changes.  I've cut so many pieces that didn't really belong in the old draft, and beefed up and concentrated on others I never thought mattered.  

Mercy as a character has come so far.  I hope it's far enough.  At some point, a writer becomes too close to the work to really know.  I never realized before, that people weren't able to connect to her emotionally as well as they should.  A fault in how I wrote her.  A lack of the reader's ability to know what Mercy was thinking and feeling, because I just didn't put it in there (even though I really thought I did.)  

Now, things are different.  Now, the reader gets to know not only Mercy's innermost thoughts, but also Reaper's.  (Something that has made my beta readers very happy.  His POV did not really exist in the original drafts.)  

I know I've mentioned occasionally here that I'm working on the rewrite(s).  That has had a few starts and stops, as I've struggled with what to get rid of, and what to keep and expand.  But the extra time it took me was worth it, because it allowed me to put some space between the old draft and my connection to it, to look objectively as some things I would never have considered getting rid of before.  

Now, here I am on the fourth (fifth?) rewrite since that old draft, and I'm feeling better about the book than I have since I was so certain that old draft was the draft.  I'm rewriting scenes I never thought needed to be rewritten before, and cutting out whole chapters, and adding new ones.  I think only a handful of scenes from that old draft even resemble themselves anymore, and that's not a bad thing.  It's a better book.  A stronger book.  

So, have a word count meter:

I'm averaging about 8K a day, and hoping to keep that up until school starts on Tuesday this next week.  

Oh, and have a snippet:
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**end snippet**

Oh, and just a note that I am looking for a couple of additional beta readers.  If anyone feels up to volunteering.

This morning was a two cup day.

After yesterday's epiphany, I thought I'd post an example as I work on fixing it.  Also, unexpected things about one's characters often come out on the page when you aren't looking for them.  Apparently, Drug (a minor character) is devoutly religious.  And Mercy (my MC) isn't.

Since I myself am of a religious bent, this is an odd realization to have.  Especially given that this counts as the third rewrite of this book, and religion has never particularly played a role before.  But what do people do when faced with death?  If they believe in a God, often they pray.  

So, without further ado:

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See how, not once do I mention how Mercy feels in this situation?  Everything is conveyed through dialogue, or a description of her doing something.  Even though the story is told from her POV, we aren't really in her head here.

And here's the new opening.  Same scene, different approach:

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See how adding bits about what Mercy's feeling makes the situation more immediate?  At least, I hope it does.  In fact, I think it changes the entire mood of the scene.  Let me know if you agree, or if you don't! :-)
Mercy Kincade

Epiphanies, they're good for the writer's soul.


Recent feedback from a beta reader has, as the subject line suggests, given rise to an epiphany about my writing, and my characters, and I think I've just realized something that has plagued me for two books.

My MC, my POV character.  I believe, as I said to another beta reader in working through this epiphany this afternoon, that I'm using Mercy too much as what I call "the author's telescope", or lense, and not enough as herself, with her own identity, thoughts and feelings.  Too much: "Look here, see this situation, and these interesting people?"  Not enough of what Mercy feels, or thinks about it.  

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I did the same thing in Dark Vision, with Elysia.  But not, I think, in the more recent novella, Veritas.  Also, there are places in this draft of Nemesis where the problem does not exist.  The prologue, for example.  Chapters from Reaper's POV, for another.  It's really in Mercy's POV that the problem makes itself really known.

So, the good news: I can fix it, especially now that I'm actually aware of it.

The not-so-good news: lots of rewriting looms ahead of me.

Sometimes I feel like I will never be done.  At the same time, I see how this will make things better.  I actually think this, more than anything else, is what the agent was talking about when she gave me feedback on the old draft.  When she had trouble connecting to Mercy.  I've had this doubt in the back of my mind for awhile, that the rewrite hasn't really fixed enough.  I think this is why.  I think I was going about it from the wrong direction.  

It is by turns depressing, daunting, but also exciting, to contemplate another rewrite. I really think this is it.  The major problem, more than any other, that needed and continues to need addressing.  

You know what's really funny?  I used to read about other authors rewriting entire books, and shake my head at the very idea.  And those authors who rewrote the same book multiple times?  CRAZY.  

I guess that tells me where I'm at now, as opposed to back then.  :D


The things I get to write, now that Dem has a wife and cute little daughter in the new draft:

Reaper suddenly stiffened, his attention turning to the hallway ahead of them. A large, muscular figure stepped around the corner. His head was shaved, his features strong and masculine. Dark skinned and blue eyed, he wore a neatly tailored suit in pale gray.

Dem, Reaper’s brother, and the only other killer on the ship.

With a smudge on his collar of something that looked suspiciously like peanut butter.
Mercy Kincade

Nemesis progress

I am well over half way, and things are moving really quickly now for the rewrite. I'm finally to a place where some things can stay...but most scenes still have to be rewritten, regardless of that.

For example, I posted this snippet of the original draft, way back when.

And in the rewrite, it's the same...but not.  You know, in case you were curious about things like that.

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Mercy Kincade


Spent an enjoyable weekend with friends. Now it's back to work on the Nemesis rewrite.

This last chapter is mostly the same, or the most the same of any chapter I've done so far, and yet probably three quarters of it is actually re-written, or reworded on a sentence level. We'll see how the next chapter goes, as I expect it to stay largely the same as well.

Although I'm toying with the idea of doing a POV switch for it. Tell it from Reaper's POV...hmmm.

My revision, let me show you it.

Now that the novella's out of the way, and I've had a day or two to recover from the insane schedule I maintained to finish it, it's back to Nemesis revisions.

Right before I started to novella, I finished the first "section" I'd had as a goal on Nemesis - namely, the first five chapters, which had required a total and complete rewrite. 17,000 words in total.

(Ironically, the novella was 25,000 words, and took me only two weeks to complete. Those five chapters? Took a couple three months. But I had a lot of deciding what i wanted to change going on, and then research to back up the changes I decided on.)

But, now that they're done, the total wordcount for the new first five chapters is 1,000 more than the old. That really surprised me. I feel like the rewrite tightens that beginning and makes a lot of things more immediate, by quite a bit, so I was expecting less words, not more. It certainly removes a boatload of extraneous material.

So where did all the new words come from? Well, I spend a lot more time on Reaper and Mercy's relationship - not that they really have one, yet, but they spend more time in each other's company. There are two whole chapters from Reaper's POV that weren't there before. Also, the old exposition prologue is gone, and in its place is a new, much more relavant prologue with characters that show up very soon, now. It's longer than the old prologue by...about 1,000 words. Funny, that.

Where the rewrite stands right now:

Let's see if this starts moving faster, now that I'm actually revising/rewriting, vs. just wholesale rewriting.

Military research Q

Okay, all knowing f-list!

I've looked and looked, and can't seem to find a clear answer.

On a Naval vessel, if, say, an officer is accused of a crime along the lines of treason, I believe the Navy would have authority and jurisdiction, not some other government agency, even if the other agency are the ones who show up with evidence of this?

I hope that makes sense.

I just want to make sure I'm not going down the wrong path here, but I'm reasonably sure I'm correct.

Drive by writing update

The husband finally got around to beta-ing the first few chapters of my Nemesis rewrite this weekend.

Sometimes it pays to have an English teacher, who is also a writer himself, as a husband/first reader. I mean, sure, I'm an English major. I write. I read. But he makes his living teaching stories to a bunch of recalcitrant high schoolers. And it isn't his story, so he can look at it from an objective position.

His thoughts had good news/bad news:

Him: "This is a real book. A real story. I can see this being published. It's about a hundred times better than the old version. I would tweak [this here], but this is really good."

Me: YAY!!

Him: "You know you're writing xyz story, right?"

Me: "...um. I am." (Sure, I knew that!)

Him: "Yeah, that means you have to keep [this] and [this] in mind when you're doing the rest of it. Cause a savvy reader, or even a not-so-savvy one, is going to expect this arc to take place. You can do all sorts of deviations and play as much as you want as LONG AS xyz happens."

ME: "Right. I totally knew that." (And I did, subconsciously. It was like "well, duh, of course I am!")

Him, a little cautiously: "You do know you're rewriting the entire book, right?"

Me: "Well, sort of. I mean yes, I'm rewriting/revising the entire thing, but some things will be the same, like [important key events]."

Him: "Yes, but I bet even when you get to [important key events], you'll find you have to change how you present them because of xyz."

Me: *stares at him* "Would you just be quiet and let me live in my delusional little world for awhile longer, wherein I'm not rewriting all 96,000 words from scratch??"

Him: "Okay. But you're going to have to."

Me: Shush!