After some trial and error and considerable research, I have decided that I’ve been doing this editing thing all wrong, particularly considering the ways in which I work best, and the gradual disintegration of any kind of logical order or consistency that happens near the end of the book. I’m not sure there is an end. There’s a climactic scene, but I need to rewrite it from a different viewpoint, and after the climactic scene there are four more scenes that need to go before the climactic scene and the writing stops in the middle of a sentence.
Ah, NaNoWriMo. The mother of sprawling, incoherent, mostly-finished first drafts. It was very educational though, and I will salvage this wince-worthy disaster of a thing, even if I end up rewriting it. And I will. I’m going to bet that not a single sentence will come out in the second draft unchanged.
The first thing I’m going to do is reread the 50k word tentacled squid of incoherency that I have produced, taking notes for things I need to change, plot holes, motivations, characters that need a better development, unnecessary scenes, scenes out of order, etc. The second thing I’ll do is outline the second draft, mostly-plot-hole-free, sensible, and correctly ordered. I already have a document where I’ve started listing my subplots and describing my main plot, and only scenes which advance one of these plots in a meaningful manner are allowed.
I’m researching a lot, particularly since my main character’s black and I’m a white chick, and I don’t want to be accidentally racist or demeaning. For example, I recently figured out that having only one character, who is morally ambiguous, be black in a whole cast of otherwise white people is called “tokenism” and is super bad because you’re basically just making the character black to prove you aren’t racist. I’m also remembering things I did like handwave the ancient history of the Rochester family, a clan of werewolves (A clan is like a big, interconnected family made up of individual packs who work together and are usually related) as immigrating from Europe, when it makes more sense for them to be Native American so that their ancient territories can, you know, actually be ancient as opposed to less than three hundred years old. Because I wanted them to be white.
Anyway, now I need to do research into Native American customs so I don’t accidentally disrespect someone’s culture and figure out why my MMC has a Scandinavian name. I’ll probably make his mom come from a Scandinavian family. I think there is a Native American tradition with werewolves, so I can draw off that.
I’m also playing around with viewpoint and style, so I rewrote the first few paragraphs from a first person point of view and I was shocked at how cool and different it was. It feels very immediate, and the style’s a little more splintered. Here you go:
I step around the corner with my backpack heavy on my shoulders, and my eyes go straight to the shining white car pulled even by the curb. Phew. I can almost smell the money coming off this thing, and maybe bleach, it’s that white. There’s a man in the front seat sitting up straight like there’s a crowbar embedded in his spine, spindly glasses on his nose, the glint of metal on the breast pocket of his white shirt. I walk a little closer, casual, hook my thumb into my backpack strap to ease the weight. His eyes slide sideways to watch me.
“Hey,” I say, and nod at him. Flick of the eyes and I can see the metal. It’s a pin. A delicate silver cross slicing through an infinity symbol. Two merging circles, divided by holiness. He catches me looking, and the sharp lines of his face stretch into a smile like a shark’s, mad and vicious. I’ve been seeing that symbol a lot, and if I look up– there, even on Ms. Johanna’s shop wall, spray painted in messy red. It’s been there for about three weeks longer than Ms. Johanna generally allows graffiti to stay.
See? Cool, right?
Oh, also, in the second draft I’m making a bit of a setting change, so that instead of the hackneyed nobody-knows-about-werewolves it’s everyone-knows-about-werewolves-it’s-taught-in-schools. Psychic shops are taken way more seriously, and there are magic shops where people pay for spells like enchanted objects and healing spells and curses and blessings and the removal of curses. The magic system is based on a half-sentient magical force which demands sacrifices from its users, with different kinds of magic users being separated by the kinds of sacrifices they make. There are blood witches, who sacrifice a certain amount of blood in exchange for a certain amount of magic, sorcerers, who sacrifice other creatures’ life force in exchange for magic, killing or prematurely aging animals or people or sometimes plants, wizards, who sacrifice their own life force at a considerably higher value than the sorcerers get for other people’s, and warlocks, who make one huge permanent sacrifice and get a certain amount of magic doled out to them every day at noon, which they can either save to cast one immensely powerful spell or spend in lots of little spells.
Wow, okay, that was a bit of a digression. See you next time, guys!