Thursday 8th June 2017
I’ve managed to do a lot more editing today, and it’s been very scary. For the first part of this week it’s been both scary and fun. Today it was just scary.
Today I well and truly stepped outside my comfort zone.
I needed to move a scene to another part of the novel. And I think I’ve done it but there’s a genuine fear that in doing so I’ve broken the book, that the continuity has just been turned into a mess. Because within the scene there’s character growth, and where it now resides means that this becomes a key scene in our protagonist accepting the hero’s mantle.
I’ll be honest, it’s scared me shitless.
Like before I’ve progressed slowly, making small changes, walking away and doing something else then coming back to it. I don’t feel particularly productive but I’m getting it done. And that’s the most important part.
I’m seriously doubting myself and this scene move. So why move it then, I hear you say?
My agent has been pretty good in enforcing that this is my novel and that the editorial changes are just suggestions. I’m the first one to complain when authors do things because they are “told to”.
But the reason I’m making this change is down to trust.
One of the major things that made me realise what a brilliant agent I have (and this has been since reaffirmed to me by other authors who are also represented by her) was that when we first discussed Black as Knight, she made a suggestion about changing my country from a kingdom to a Grand Duchy. Instantly, my head exploded with ideas. Yes, this was a good move and proved to me that here was someone who understood what I was trying to achieve and was helping improve it.
I realise my worry about moving this scene is at least partly rooted in fear that I’ll muck up the novel. But you know what? As I’ve told myself, I have the old versions, I can always swap back. I, at least, want to try it. If I make the change and then feel that it was wrong to move it… I’ll move it back.
But, as complicated and as fear ridden as it currently feels, I like that it stops the plot in that part of the novel feeling quite so linear.
So I’ll make the change and work through my fear, and see what it’s like. I’m still learning as a writer and still finding that sweet spot between sticking to my guns and being flexible. This is how I grow, by stepping outside my comfort zone and seeing where it takes me.
I’ve always said that authors should be slaves to their story, so if this is what the story needs in order to be better, to hell with my fear.
And so I’ve made slow progress (the writing equivalent of someone skiing downhill whilst screaming in fear) but got it done. It won’t be until I go back to do the line edits that I’ll get a sense of the flow of the plot.
I was going to redo a scene where our hero fights the head of a gang but the general comments say there’s more detailed notes in the edits, so I’ll put that one off and deal with it when I come to do those.
Instead, I’ve worked on the ball. The hero now comes in with new information and I need to convey that and get their motivation for doing certain things to change. Again it makes sense and I can see why it leads to a more robust scene, but even though it’s a minor change, I still worry I’m breaking the continuity.
So again I’ve made slow progress, dipping into the general election coverage when I’ve needed to take a break.
I’m still ahead of myself, and despite the procrastination I’m making excellent progress, even if I nedd to keep telling myself that there’s nothing I can break that can’t be fixed. This is just a new way of editing, I tell myself.
I read a small article on Sanderson’s Cosmere universe on Tor.com today by way of a distraction / break and whilst I knew about his plans, I did find myself a little jealous of what he’s got planned.
So – because whenever writing gets hard, I will think of something other to do – I’m already thinking about a proper multi-verse idea rather than just the odd character cameo. I then needed to remind myself that Black as Knight might be the first of potentially 20 books, in which case I better get on with the edits if I ever intend to write other universes as well.
I can be insanely competitive when I want to be, especially when it comes to the imagination (although I have to clarify that I don’t see other authors as commercial competition). If Sanderson can come up with a huge multiverse, I can come up with one bigger I tell myself.
But, I think to myself, if I can do that, I can be imaginative enough to get these scene moves to work. And so it was that I went back to work on the Ball scene.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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