Thursday, May 3, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Skydwellers third edition

The first few chapters of this book really seem to drag on to me. I think it's because when I started writing it, I didn't have much idea of what I was doing, and I was kind of making up the plot as I was writing, so I spent a long time in Wilder's village because I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I realize now that I greatly dislike doing that - not the least because it leads to problems like these - so for longer works I always make sure to have a good-sized plot outline charted before I start writing. In this revision, I've been trying to streamline the beginning a bit so the pace is at least slightly more snappy. (But also probably it's because Wilder's village is so sleepy and samey that everything feels like it drags on there, so.)

Another fairly major edit I've made is to take out the Gralings' wings. See, I derived their species's design from a creature I'd conceptualized some years earlier, that I'd randomly given scraggly wings. When I decided to put them into Skydwellers, I felt like that element of their design worked well because it would be interesting if they grew themselves wings to try to emulate the Sky Gods. But now that I'm better at plot construction, I realize that if you incorporate a major design element like that, it should probably actually come into play in the plot. In previous editions of Skydwellers, once the wings are explained, they're really never mentioned again, and that's been eating at me. Plus, the Gralings are cool and all, but I really don't think they've managed to achieve species-wide genetic engineering. That aspect always felt kind of out-of-place in their civilization. So, considering removing their wings does absolutely nothing to alter the plot, I feel perfectly safe in taking out that element of their design.

That reminds me, another misconception that I need to clear up is that Gralings are not descended from humans who were mutated by the catastrophe 30,000 years ago. Gralings have always been an entirely separate sapient species and they've always been weird-looking. (Plus, the destruction that ended Mathchis's artificers' civilization was not nuclear-based--they were using aether weapons, which is a totally different type of energy than radioactivity.)

Also: so much unnecessary prose and dialogue tags that aren't "said" whyyyyyyyyy. It's funny how much one's writing can improve in just a few years. Writing tip: less wordiness is better. Cut out words that don't need to be there to convey the meaning of a sentence. For example, instead of "became engaged in explaining events", just a simple "explained events" will do just as well--perhaps even better, since it's snappier and clearer.

I also considerably reworked Wilder's and Rohui's conversation in Chapter 8. Rather than have it be a culmination of cultural tension, now it's about Rohui being mopey and overdramatic and wanting to give up because the other Freethinkers have been caught, and Wilder has to talk some sense into him. Overall there's a lot less contention and drama in this version, and I think it makes the book an overall pleasanter read.

Down to 76,000 words now! And I'm about 25% of the way through the manuscript. This is taking longer than I thought... probably because this thing is so olllddd.

Fraa is still fantastic. She definitely steals the show in this book and I'm not even mad.

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