I like certain things about the changes I’ve made to the story line at the beginning of Tishta the Crystal Orb. I used to introduce all ten characters (excluding Maglin) in the first scene. Now, it’s spread over the first three chapters.
It allows the reader to get to know some of the characters before they meet new ones. I also added in a fair amount of backstory that I had removed in the first draft to allow me to start the book with Coltan’s arrival. I only had to rearrange some of the material and update it to reflect current reality. I’m not entirely satisfied yet, but I suspect, after I get further into the revised story, things will become more clear. Then, I can go back to this beginning and make sure it feels right.
In the original story, I had my main character, Coltan, explain to nearly everyone—mostly separately—that he was a vampire, although some of the characters knew this on their own, Malcan and Mar, in particular. In my new chapter three, where the whole group finally gets together, I’m struggling with whether or not my warriors, Gillan and Toran, who have worked pretty extensively with Criften and Malcan, know about Coltan.
One of the comments my editor made on the first draft of the book was that I repeatedly had Coltan exposing his “condition” to the others. By the time Contara finds out, Gillan already knows about Coltan. Contara confronts her. “Why didn’t you tell me?” But, Gillan had only just found out, so it was all right in the story. If I change it so she knows all along that Coltan is a vampire, I’m not sure how or why she would keep this from Contara. I think I’ll just go ahead and write it, and see how it feels when I get to that scene.
I’ve already pulled a scene I really liked, where Coltan told Gillan and Toran about himself. I hate the idea of also pulling the scene between Contara and Coltan. It’s short, but I like it. Maybe I can move it earlier, to just after he arrives. Currently, I have it taking place in the next chapter.
I’m going to call chapter three finished, at least until I get through chapter four and see how all the story arcs move forward. I have to say, this editing part is much more difficult for me than the initial writing.
I’ve heard this is the way it is for “seat of the pants” writers, like myself. If I had planned out the whole story, with story cards and summaries and all the other preliminary work that the other type of author uses, I would have done the work up front. The difference is, they say “this happened, so he behaves this way.” I say, “I wonder why he behaves this way?” and then I write a backstory that tells me.
I might try doing all of the up front planning sometime, but that’s not the way my mind works. I start writing and it just flows out my fingertips and into my computer. I get to find out, each time I sit down to write, what’s going to happen next. It’s exciting. I enjoy that.
I do have a general idea of where the story is going. Also, I don’t necessarily write the scenes sequentially. In fact, I have the final scenes, as well as large parts of the rest of this series, already written. I know where my characters are headed four years into the future.
I actually have stories that go well beyond that, but they aren’t necessarily the actual future, only a potential future. My extensive backstories help me to understand where my characters are coming from and why they react the way they do to the often horrific experiences I put them through.
I’ll keep you posted as I make my way through the next chapter as to how everything comes together. Once I have the gathering of characters solidly in place, I can start to focus on some of the awkward pacing and story arcs my editor also pointed out. I’m excited to go there.
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