The editing I’ve done so far has been an interesting process. The intent was to introduce the characters more slowly and give them more depth—so the reader gets a better feel for who each of them are. I think I’ve been able to accomplish that.
At the same time, I’ve begun pushing the story in a new direction with respect to my main protagonist, Coltan. This has involved adding more sex, and it’s more explicit. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.
Coltan’s backstory that I wrote in August—which I grew into another whole book—is full of sex. It’s a major topic in the story. I got used to writing about it, but that doesn’t mean I feel comfortable sharing it with everyone.
I’ll go ahead with adding the graphic sex scenes for now and then see what my editor has to say during her next pass through the book. I can always tone things down.
In chapter four, the entire group has been together for a few days, and are discovering things about each other. There are new jealousies and rejections, but they start to rely on each other, and that leads to a certain amount of trust.
As I’ve worked to flesh out some of the characters, a lot of it has been selecting stories I had already written and discarded as backstories. This was especially true for Gillan, Toran and Kano. I think they are much more believable and memorable characters now.
Criften has been a bigger challenge. In the original draft, I wanted him distant and hands off, and that led me to not telling the reader much about him. My editor wanted to know more. I’m adding interactions that will hopefully make him more human without making him overtly compassionate and loving. He is these things, but he hides them well. I added a scene where Coltan is introspective and he even says Criften has shut himself off from the world.
“Criften tries to help me sometimes, but he has his own demons. He has learned to shut out the world, except the parts that require him to participate—to keep The Others from taking us over. He’s really very dedicated to that, and, I suppose, to me and the others he is bringing together. I’d like to say, after all this time, that he is my friend, but neither of us has the capacity for that.”
Aside from added character development, scenes have shifted around a bit. One of my challenges has been making sure they move seamlessly into their new positions. I’ve had to keep a careful eye on the beginnings and endings to make sure they fit with the scenes before and after them. I have to pay attention to the moon, especially since there is an eclipse at the end of chapter three, so there shouldn’t be a moon during the watches in these first chapters—they take place within the span of a week.
The group also moves through mountains and down to lower land as they move from Maglin’s cabin—which wasn’t even in the first draft—to the first real town the get to, Milfar, which is where chapter five picks up.
As I usually do, I’m recording each scene as I change it. It’s a lot of extra time and work, but when I listen to the story, I can hear discrepancies. Listening to my story has been one of my most useful tools. I still recommend it to all writers. The first part, Coming Together, is already up to two hours and twelve minutes. The recordings give me the added benefit of reading myself to sleep at night.
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