This is my design.

blueprint

So, nobody warned me about Hannibal.

Actually, scratch that. *Everybody* warned me about Hannibal, but I just didn’t listen. Two episodes in and I am already having freaky serial killer dreams. Also, we need to have a serious talk about the costume design. Wait. Everyone has already had this talk. I am, as ever, late to the party.

So I’ve been kick the manuscript for Gunslinger Symphony around a bit. I keep giving it to people to beta, and always with the same vague notice – it’s missing something at the 2/3 to 3/4 mark, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on what that is exactly. I re-read it myself at the start of the year: it’s fun, quicker than I expected, and although there are a lot of transitions that need sorting out – it jumps a little too vigorously from point to point, expecting the reader to follow – it’s not too bad. And yet I still hesitate to call it done. It’s missing something – that spark that makes it special and meaningful and – to me – complete.

To be perfectly honest, I still don’t quite know what that is.

But, I’ve never been one to let things like “a complete lack of direction” or “no inkling of a cohesive plan” hold me back. I picked a natural break in the story, added a new chapter (thank you, Scrivener) and started pounding out words. Seven thousand words later, and there might actually be something coming. Not out of the stuff I’ve written – much of it will probably be binned once I edit the book again – but just wandering round inside the character’s heads gave me some insight into what I had been trying to say with the story all along.

One of the first things Juliet asked me when I signed with her was, “what is your book actually about?” She actually had to repeat herself because I spent the next minute making confused faces as I tried to work out exactly what to say. I had just spent six months writing and editing a book and  another six reading beta feedback on it – surely I could tell her what it was about…couldn’t I?

It’s a lot tougher than I expected. In amongst all the monsters and fighting and adventure and (some might say) excessive use of parenthesis, there was a story about the burden of sin.

You would think I’d be faster the next time round, but it’s taken me almost eighteen months (and a draft of a different novel) to figure out what the Hell I’m trying to say with Gunslinger.

Now all I have to do is make sure that it says it.*

 

*and yes, I *am* procrastinating with a ‘blog post.

The man with the plan.

Kingdom’s Fall is getting very close to submission now. And no, I haven’t thought of another title yet.

I’ve had some responses from beta readers so far, and they’ve been positive and constructive. This doesn’t quite work and that needs more clarification and overall it has added up to what I’d call more tweaks and fixes than outright revision. I’m pleased with how the book is turning out post-revision (with a month spent not looking at the manuscript at all, the beta comments were like a spotlight on the problems) and now I’m thinking that by the time we’re back from Sweden in mid-to-late September, this bad boy should be ready for submission.

Or, to sum it up in a word, eep.

I have no strategy for this, as such. At some point I am going to have to write the synopsis. At some point I am going to have to write a cover letter. At some point I am going to need to crack the spine on the Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook (wait, I bought that in 2010?) and make a list of people to submit it to.

At some point, it’s going to have to go out the door.

Eep.

 

One to the finish line, the other to the recycle bin.

So far this month I have managed to finish up my short story for the Blizzard Writing Contest.  It’s quite interesting (and challenging) to write in someone else’s world.  I’ve tried it once before; back when I was playing WoW I wrote a short story about Arena PvP.  It only really struck me when I was writing my competition entry that I had taken a wrong turn back with that first story.

While there’s a certain minimum amount of foreknowledge you can safely assume in the average reader of tie-in fiction, I made the mistake of overexpectation on the part of the reader.  To anyone who didn’t play WoW, it might as well have been written in hieroglyphics.  Granted, if you explained everything in a detailed and precise way, you’d be writing a manual and the core audience would fall asleep reading, so it turned out there were a lot of tweaks that had to be done to balance the writing.

Also, it’s pretty tough trying to be original.  Some of the stuff that happens in my story just doesn’t happen in the game it is based on. I wanted something that would have an authentic feel to the Universe it was based on, but I wanted it to be more than just a re-tread of something you might have seen if you played it.  So I took some liberties.  The reasons they can happen get explained, but I can imagine a real hardcore fan might tut in disapproval reading it nonetheless.

Also this week I finished editing a Steampunk story, which is not getting sent anywhere.  I wrote it, edited it, scrapped it, re-wrote it, edited that until I was sick of the sight of it, and in the end I have to say I don’t think it’s strong enough.  It’s annoying, because I started out with a good idea – the difficulties a female inventor would face in the Age of Steam – and as I worked away on it I discovered it was much, much harder to say what I wanted to within the constraints of my word limit.

It’s not that what I’ve come up with is particularly bad. At some points, it’s about as good as my writing gets.  It’s just that taken as a whole I don’t think it stands well as a short story.  It feels like a fragment of something longer, and – havign considered the idea of writing something longer with it – it probably wouldn’t make the final cut.

The recycle bin isn’t really where it’s going, though.  It’ll get filed, along with everything else that doesn’t quite work, and maybe parts of it will come back in something else.

I may kill my darlings, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to waste the dismembered parts they leave behind.

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Picture of a flower – I’m not sure what type.  Sweden, 2011