Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Works-In-Progress Wednesday: The Valley of the Shadow.... of Editing....

Another new thing! From here on out, I will be posting regularly on Wednesdays, talking about the things I'm currently working on. If I'm actively writing, you'll see an excerpt. If not... it will probably look something like today's post... 

You know that moment when you write something down and it's totally golden and you turn it in and the instructor gives you 100% and you only had to write the thing once?


Yeah... unfortunately, that only works for essays, not novels. I'm learning this. The novel in question is Laurel of Andar, of which I've posted several excerpts over the last year. I'm working on editing that in preparation for publishing--and so it goes. A friend in my critique group remarked, "I'm really not getting a sense of the world around your characters, what they look like, how they dress, where they live, what they eat--that sort of stuff."

Okay, confession time: the issue I'm having is that this novel actually started out as a work of fanfiction. (give you three guesses to the source, and the first two don't count!) So when I first wrote it, the "world" was already in existence--and why reinvent the wheel? What little geographical anomalies I needed for my own story, I could easily "plug into" the existing locations.

When I decided to take out all of the copyrighted material and "rework" it into my own original story... the "plugins" stayed... but apparently the context disappeared...

Lesson learned: Don't misplace (or displace) your context.

So this week I've had to reinvent the "context" of my novel--and if there's one thing you can't "tweak" into a novel (like a mere matter of word choice or adding a sentence or two of explanation), it's context. Does this mean a total overhaul?

I do not relish the idea of "Extreme Makeover: Novel Edition." There was a lot of work that went into this novel the first time around, and the prospect of having to do every little bit is daunting, to say the least. I'm experiencing that kind of regret that goes with wishing I would have thought of this the first time around.

A Dose of Cleverness:

The setting is supposed to be a fantasy world--and everybody knows that a fantasy world is most often a medieval-era world. (thank you, Professor Tolkein...) I had already broken the cliche of "segregated races" by having the different races living among each other and interacting (how American of me). So I decided that a further breach was no great offense. I thought:

-Why not allow the races of the main "continent" to reflect a post-Industrial-type society, like Regency-era or Victorian?
-This would allow the Elvish "refugees" who are my central characters to feel a sense of patriotism when they maintain their medieval-style traditions, and keep their skill with weapons like the bow-and-arrow, and swords and such, when the rest of society around them has "moved on" to such things as firearms (at least the portable kind); it would set them apart in regards to fashion as well. The refugees would favor long dresses, tunics, jerkins, and boots--and sneer at the flounces, corsets, and frills of the "modern" society.

It totally works and it's a brilliant idea... but unlike the original idea, which could "plug into" a pre-existing world, it doesn't exactly "plug into" the novel I already have. (Or if it does, I haven't found it yet...)

This has been Works-In-Progress Wednesday. See you next week! (Hopefully I've made progress by then!)