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darknation

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  1. so, rewrite number four of the dn novel is about to begin. writing a blog about it to solidify the reasons why rewrite number three didn't quite work. If you're interested then I applaud you, but this blog is mostly for me, to get my ideas straightened out. I need to examine why this latest period of editing has failed to produce the results I was hoping for.

    brief synopsis of where the project currently stands; what has emerged from the rubble of yet another rewrite is a 90'000 word straight-line monologue. Every single piece of exterior dialogue has been stripped out and replaced.

    This has been a huge, monstrous, pain in the ass. Writing a novel featuring multiple characters with their own actions and motivations entirely from the standpoint of one person, without the aid of dialogue? Not fucking likely.

    And yet it was done.

    Why? Mainly so the voice of the protagonist isn't forced down to bad, one actor radio play status. The "he said, I said, she said..." complete with bad impressions of the person being imitated. For one thing, nobody speaks like that in real life. It's a contrivance bad novelists (looking at you, Anne Rice) have now made the norm and I'll be fucked if I'm going to fall into that lazy bullshit trap.

    I have also went with the principal of having the protagonist witness everything he reports. If a crucial piece of plot happens offscreen, away from the eyes of the narrator, then he does not know about it. If he mentions how he learned about it later on then that, in turn, suggests that the protagonist survives the events of the novel. Which fucks dramatic tension.

    Bearing this in mind, having the narrator speak to the reader in the past-tense throughout the book was, perhaps hilariously obviously, a complete and total cocksnarfling fuckup on my part.

    This is one of the problems the fourth edit will rectify. It is being rewritten in present tense.

    During the second draft I came up with the concept (after watching far, far too much 24) that the novel should not skip from scene to scene, but rather flow in real-time. The novel is, in a sense, a single entity. There are no moments of unaccounted for time; we spend every second with the narrator over the course of two days with no convenient 'fade to black' or perspective change when things get quiet or plot holes (how did they get from A to B?) need convenienced out of existence. Again, this was done. Again, this was absolute, mental break-down inducing lunacy, but it was done none-the-less.

    I quickly came to the conclusion that 80'000 words of straight-line, no-break monologue is just too much for someone to be expected to sit through without some form of relief. I introduced segues between chapters (mostly featuring previously excised material; these, I reasoned, could be considered flashbacks to previous days and help explain the origins / motivations of characters. These I did in the same signature monologue style as the rest of the novel.

    So, to fix an 80'000 word non-stop monologue, I added a further 10'000 words of monologue. Because I am a fucking retard.

    Reaching for the delete key when I put months of hard work into these segues is pretty fucking heartbreaking. And it leaves me with several fairly major fucking problems; if motivation for a character's actions during the course of the novel was explained in the now-deleted segue, then it must be reintroduced. Somehow.

    A concept that I introduced mid-way through the third editing cycle (the narrator used to write shit-tier children's books) has now evolved into a secondary book, pages of which are inserted between chapters. I've got an artist whom I used to know at college drawing scenes of lemmings flying kites, stuff that is metaphorically connected with what is happening in the forthcoming chapter, sketch-lined Winnie the Pooh shit. These will be accompanied by court documents, lines of script, declassified medical records, newspaper cuttings, etc. etc. etc. that will deliver the same information as was present in the segues.

    These, after more than three years of writing more-or-less in the first-person, are proving to be a challenge. I'm actually enjoying both the research and writing of these. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed doing anything connected to this fucking piece of shit book.

    Finally, there is a stylistic change. Going from past to present-tense has forced my hand somewhat in this; the flowery, faggoty flowing prose of the third-edition edit simply will not survive the transition. Moving things to the immediate tense sharpens words, shortens them, events are happening NOW so there is no time to fuck about and prettify the language. This, again, I am enjoying.

    Right, that's enough bullshit procrastination from me. The plan for the forth edit is now carved in stone. Fuck your mother and fuck her anus.

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. durian

      durian

      On a quick read through, it sets an interesting scene, and there's some rather nice imagery. The style seems a little strange to me, though. In places (e.g., the opening sentence) you seem to be aiming for an informal, conversational style, but elsewhere there's an oddly formal tone, and the syntax is clunky and over-complicated. E.g., second paragraph second sentence, you use 'for' to mean 'because' or 'since', which seems oddly highfalutin in this context, and in the third paragraph third sentence you say "Of the father there is no sign" - the syntax here is pretty clunky, and lends the sentence an air of formality which (for me) clashes a little with the way that you write elsewhere. Of course, maybe a combination of a formal/informal tone is what you're going for here, in which case, disregard :)

      Why such sparing use of abbreviations?

      "I know am dressed"? ;)

    3. GreyGhost

      GreyGhost

      Hellbent said:

      What happened to poor Gambit?

      He was mangled by a motor vehicle or two

    4. darknation

      darknation

      durian said:

      On a quick read through, it sets an interesting scene, and there's some rather nice imagery. The style seems a little strange to me, though. In places (e.g., the opening sentence) you seem to be aiming for an informal, conversational style, but elsewhere there's an oddly formal tone, and the syntax is clunky and over-complicated. E.g., second paragraph second sentence, you use 'for' to mean 'because' or 'since', which seems oddly highfalutin in this context, and in the third paragraph third sentence you say "Of the father there is no sign" - the syntax here is pretty clunky, and lends the sentence an air of formality which (for me) clashes a little with the way that you write elsewhere. Of course, maybe a combination of a formal/informal tone is what you're going for here, in which case, disregard :)

      Why such sparing use of abbreviations?

      "I know am dressed"? ;)

      couple of reasons.

      first, there is something vaguely melancholy about more formal language; it's like a valediction or a long withheld confession. Words that have been considered for a long time before finally being given up. It slows things down slightly, gives the piece room to breathe.

      the example you have given ("Of the father there is no sign -") starts with a series of high consonants and resolves to low consonants. The alternative, ("There isn't any sign of the father") ends on a high, resolving almost like a question (or worse, the perpetual american whine). To build the mood of the piece these things have to be weighed and weighted.

      Second, the main character is (now) a functional mute. When the writing gets odd or stilted, then I can just use that as an excuse and hopefully get away with it. The narrator is, like myself, also a failed intellectual; formal is how failed intellectuals roll.

      The contrast between formal english and purple profanity is also pleasing; it's something British comedians have been using to their advantage since Monty Python.

      Things flow better as I go over the top of things with the red pen. 'and He-Man was on the telly' was the original line, but that just made it sound like the church was playing He-Man. This became 'and he was missing this week's episode of He-Man on the telly' which is even worse, because now the sentence is too long. Now, latest draft, reads 'and he was missing He-Man on the telly.' which is just about right.

      There is a lot of trial and error. Fixing one sentence often shits the flow of things, requiring either a re-write of the re-write or additions / subtractions before or after the offending sentence.

      Hope that helps.

      edit: I know am fixed. Damnit.

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