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Posts Tagged ‘rewrites’

When I approach a previously-written story, there’s always a temptation to think I can fix it with more-than-usually extensive revisions. Sometimes, I can. More often it becomes obvious that that just isn’t going to work.

I hadn’t gotten very far in the read-through before I realized MAGE STORM is not going to be one I can just revise. Oh, I could almost certainly keep some parts of the original, with some revision. The first few chapters, likely. And maybe I will.

But for most of it, the answer is going to be to take it down to the bare dirt and start over. And, before I do that, I’m going to have to think a few things through, because they’ll have a major effect on the story.

See, the original version of MAGE STORM was upper middle grade–meant for readers between 10 and 12. Back when I was seriously considering traditional publishing. And, because of that, the story was constrained to be a bit smaller than what I would write for a more general audience. And I kept it to one point of view.

But middle grade is a really tough market, especially for indie authors for a lot of reasons. And I just choose not to beat my head against that wall. For one thing, marketing is hard enough for me (just not really my thing, but a necessary part of the job) without having to market to one audience (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) who buy the books while writing for another audience (ten- to twelve-year-olds) who read them.

This story always had the potential to be more . . . epic. The huge, world-affecting problem is right there in plain sight. So, while the plot line will stay basically the same, there will need to be a lot more depth to it. Some of it will need to be expanded considerably. And I plan to give a couple of other characters point-of-view chapters of their own.

The first thing I need to figure out–and pretty quickly–is how old I want these characters to be when the story starts. Rell (the main character) was fifteen in the original version. Then pushed down to eleven on the advice of an agent. Then fifteen again. That’s not an impossible age. Vatar (of the Dual Magics series) was fifteen when that series started. But it surely will affect how some scenes are handled–things like what the character is likely to be concerned about, how he interacts with his family and friends, how he reacts to a threat, what he’ll find funny (which is important in certain parts of the story).

And I’m afraid that what I ended up with in that last version was a fifteen-year-old who sometimes acts like an eleven-year-old. To some extent that’s okay. Rell is not going to be as mature at fifteen as Vatar was. He’s led a much more sheltered life and he really has no preparation for what’s going to happen to him. On the other hand, there are some significant differences between what a fifteen-year-old will put up with without rebelling and what an eleven-year-old will. And there’s a part of the story where full-on teenage rebellion could easily get him killed, so there’ll need to be a really good reason why he doesn’t.

So . . . the best thing to do is probably to just start over, pretty much from the beginning.

Maybe I’ll go play with some ideas for the cover art while I mull these issues.

 

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Switching Gears

I’ve started looking at MAGE STORM to plan out the rewrite. First I just skimmed through parts of it to remind myself of the shape of the story, but I’ve decided I really just need to give it a read through before starting any real changes. After all, I think the original version of this was written about 2012.

About that, since it started from a short story titled “Infected with Magic” that earned an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future in 2011. Which, in turn, grew from a writing prompt in one of my writers’ groups (Hatrack River). That short story is very nearly identical to the first chapter.

This version will be more epic fantasy or perhaps sword and sorcery. Though, it won’t really fit that designation, either. Well, there’s time to worry about that.

I expect this to be about a four-book series. Although it could be more, if more ideas present themselves as I go along, because it will be that kind of series, separate stories, each probably building on the last, but not necessarily coming to some series climax in which “evil” is defeated.

So, that’ll keep me busy for a while, once BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM is finished.

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I think.  Still working on the first round of revisions on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

BecomeCover

That very rough chapter needed almost a complete rewrite. And the next one needed quite a lot of work, too. Then I added a new scene to the chapter after that and went back and added a completely new (short) chapter. Oh, and in the process I made a change to the timeline, moving one major event up by a year.

I’d hoped to be half-way through this revision pass by now. After all of that, I’m closer to one-third. Still, from this point on I hope it will go more smoothly. Whether it does or not, though, I’m much happier with the story now than I was. So it was all worth it.

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Revisions on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING are progressing.

BecomeCover

I mentioned in an earlier post that the read-through had revealed that the first few chapters were the roughest. Nevertheless, I’ve been getting through two or three chapters a day. Until now.

Now I’m up to the one chapter that is the roughest of all. There’s almost as much red text(revision notes) as black (normal). This one’s going to need a lot of work, almost a rewrite. This one may take a while.

Part of the reason this one is so rough is that it was copied from a much earlier version of . . . well, it wasn’t exactly this story. But from an earlier (never-to-be-published) story that was eventually rewritten into part of this one. That one had a character very like my main character in the BECOME series, but he wasn’t the main character in that version, though–which was a mistake. He always was the most interesting character.

A few more chapters after this one, though, and things should get easier. I’m aiming to get at least half-way through this pass by the end of the week. There’ll be one more revision pass after this, although that won’t be a full, look-at-everything pass. Just going back to the notes I haven’t addressed or the new ones I’ve made in this pass, such as:

  1. A possible change in the timeline–and figuring out what that would mean down the line.
  2. Some adjustments to emotional blocks my character suffers from. He still needs the block, but I need to tweak the cause a bit.
  3. Considering altering certain units of measure. Miles or something else more world-specific. Same with weeks and months. Well, months work, since they’re based on the moon cycle and calling it a moon pass is sort of silly. But weeks are arbitrary and I may want to use something else. The trick is figuring out what.

 

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First, results on the project to disable page flip are confusing. It seemed to be helping at first, but lately . . .

Page reads flatline

I have never had three straight days of zero page reads before. I’ll give it a bit more time, but I may have to rethink some strategies. If the only way I can have my books available through Kindle Unlimited is to let people read them without any reimbursement to me (currently Amazon pays between $0.0045 and $0.005 per “page”) then I may have to opt out and take my books back to wide distribution. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it may be necessary.

Even if that’s what happens, I won’t count the experiment a failure. Firstly, if that’s the way things are, then I need to know that to make good decisions. Secondly, I think going through all my published books occasionally is a good thing. I may have to do it annually or at least biannually, if only to keep the links to my other books up to date. (I know there are simpler ways to do this that I may have to investigate further, too.)

At any rate, if I hadn’t been doing that, I probably would never have taken a second look at the covers for the Chimeria Series or for some of my shorter works. (“Wyreth’s Flame” is probably due for a new cover, too. And I may try to do a little something more with THE MUSIC BOX, to give it more of a fantasy feel.)

As far as covers go, after some struggles, I think I’ve got the one for BLOOD IS THICKER:

BitPurple

The cover for BLOOD WILL TELL still needs a little work, though.

Become3

Looking at the covers in a smaller size (like the thumbnails on Amazon), it’s clear that there are dragons on the new cover for BLOOD IS THICKER. But much less clear on the new cover for BLOOD WILL TELL, because the gold dragon doesn’t show up as well against the moon. I need to work on that.

And, of course, I also need to work on both the revisions and the cover for BECOME:BROTHERS. I’ve stopped temporarily at a place where my critique partner asked me to go deeper into the main character’s feelings about something. She’s right. After all, the character is modeled after Hercules to considerable extent. In order to work, in order for readers to care about him, I need to show his vulnerabilities as well as his strengths. I just need to think a bit on the best way to show that. It’d be easy to just go deeper into his head–and I will do that, too–but I think I also need a scene to actually show it first. And that’s what I have to think about a little bit.

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Cause for celebration: The prequel novella to BECOME: To Catch the Lightning is now in the hands of one of my critique partners.

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While I wait to hear back on that, I’m reviewing what I’d started on an entirely different epic fantasy, currently titled MAGE STORM.

 

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I’m still working on that new chapter for the prequel to BECOME.

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Partly, that’s because I’m still working on overcoming those bad habits regarding my writing time I blogged about last time. And last week turned out to be a very bad time to try to work on that due to several real life show stoppers.

Partly it’s because I backed up a little bit to fix the current scene. I realized that I’d set up my protagonist to be just a little too pure of heart to be truly believable. Now, I still need him to do the thing I was setting up. I just needed to provide a better motivation.

Now, instead of being just a little too good to be true, I’ve set him up instead to internalize a lesson from an earlier episode. This works much better.

Motivation has been the bugaboo through this whole part of the story. The first version set up the brother to be too nasty–a bully. Which is not what I want. The second version set up the protagonist to be a saint. Again, not what I need, here. This version will work better. But it’s probably not the last time I’m going to need to do a little work on the motivations of these two before I get to the final version of “BECOME: Brothers” (working title).

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