Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Revising On Borrowed Wings

Whoo, it's been a while, hasn't it! Still super busy. But my latest project has been to get all of my novels on Amazon so people can find my ebook and print editions in one place. Skydwellers I consider already pretty well-revised (or at least recently-revised), but On Borrowed Wings has been bothering me for various reasons, so I'm taking this opportunity to bring it up to speed and add dialogue tags because augh. My prose has gotten so much better.

(Dialogue tags are the "he said"-"she said" bit that you're supposed to put with dialogue to clarify who's speaking. I used to think you could get away with omitting them, like so:

I pulled the garlic bread from the oven. "So what are you guys up to today?"

but not only does that read rather disjointedly, but it becomes problematic when there's more than one individual in the surrounding sentences:

She gave her sister a big hug and they laughed. "Let's go out for ice cream!" The two hurried out the door.

Notice how you can't actually tell who's speaking that dialogue. Yeah. Big problem.

So, unless it really interferes with the flow of the prose (and 90% of the time it won't), add a dialogue tag. You'll be glad you did.

This message was paid for by the National Agency for Dialogue Tags.)

Anyway, I'm only 9 pages in and already I've ended up changing quite a bit--not just in the prose, but I also wanted to fix up the character development a bit. I'm trying to do a better job of establishing Nimbus's and her dad's characters firmly in the beginning of the book--especially since I of course had a much better grasp on their characters by the end. I wanted to make apparent the hints of tension that neither of them realize have been building between them until they're faced with a very unusual situation and that tension reaches a breaking point as both of them respond in different ways.

I wanted to make sure to paint a clear picture of Jim Tennoji as a very logical, straitlaced, by-the-book person who hates making waves, while his daughter inherited much more of his late wife's freespirited creativity and open-minded, intuitive approach to life. But Nimbus is a sweet girl who loves her dad dearly and would never dream of saying no to him, even though she finds she can't quite agree with his heavyhanded ideas about what she should be doing with her life. Naturally, finding a high-tech giant robot in an archaeological dig site challenges both of them, as Jim can't bring himself to accept such a paradigm-breaking find while Nimbus wants to welcome it with open arms.

Of course, the situation worsens when Nimbus accidentally becomes the robot's pilot and suddenly they have a shady corporation breathing down their necks. But through everything that happens, Nimbus learns that while chasing down the things she wants, she has to keep an eye on the big picture and how her actions affect others, while Jim learns to let back in ways to approach life that he tried to suppress after his wife died, and that relationships and love between people continue regardless of whether they're physically present.

Part of the reason why I think I struggled to solidify all of this was because I wrote so much of the story in bits and pieces, having really no idea what I was doing in the beginning, so even after multiple rounds of editing it's still a bit shaky. Again, this is a great testament to how important it is to write something in one go. Don't do what I did and write until you run out of steam and then put it aside until you feel like working on it again (which could be years). You'll lose all of that momentum you'd been building as you immersed yourself in the characters, world, and plot, and when you come back to it you'll kind of have to start all over again remembering what you wanted to say with the story.

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