The last month has been chaotic for me, the biggest issue being a nagging sinus problem—left over from the head cold last month—that culminated in a raging infection. Today is the first day in about six weeks that the pressure is gone from my head. Other personal challenges have occupied my time, as well, but I was determined through it all to keep working on the Tishta edits. And I did.
In tackling chapter eight, which I now call “Haliton,” I found it intertwined with the next chapter, “Getting to Know You.” There were pieces of chapter nine—which does a lot of exposition—that I knew should be introduced sooner. The result was that I worked on both chapters, going back and forth between the existing ones, and making the story flow more smoothly and clearly in the process. I also found myself adding to previous chapters to support what I added to these chapters.
One of the reasons I wrote so much was, in the originals of both of these chapters, I did a lot of telling, not showing. I still have some left, but I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I’m really happy with the parts I turned into dialog and action. I will revisit these chapters later, with the intent of looking at the remaining ones, and deciding if they need fleshing out.
I also added more character development and descriptions. One of these was the simple addition of Kano having visions just before the warriors leave to investigate why Haliton is burning. I did it based on a suggestion my editor, Anne, made in her editorial comments. I believe including that single paragraph adds a wealth of knowledge about the boy, and why he is so anxious—I already had him fussing with torn nails.
Criften was too mysterious. I included a hint at where he was from, and also exposed new prophecies that he discusses with Eido, as well as Malcan and Coltan. His talks with Eido allow me to share some of his feeling, which were nearly nonexistent in the first draft. He tells Eido, “We moved out into Rindahl’s Fury today. I hate this place.” Eido responds, “I wish I could be there with you.”
When I decided to have Coltan struggle with separation of sex and blood, and going too long without one or the other, or both, it added some complexity to the story that I continue to adjust to. Until he gets together with Gentu—which doesn’t happen until chapter eleven—Coltan needs to satisfy himself somehow. He doesn’t have much chance to get away from the group, and Malcan turned down his advances, so his only option is masturbation. I don’t actually show him doing it, but I did add a scene that implies it. I’ll need to remember about this after Gentu leaves them, just before they arrive at Castle Colmaria.
Other additions included a lot more descriptions of scenery, demons and the people the group encounters; more focus on how much time is passing; and little details like adding a scene where Criften actually trades with villagers—he is , after all, putting on the persona of a merchant.
I merged a lot of shorter scenes into their neighbors when they were strongly related. This will probably work well overall, but it’s another thing I’ll go back to review later. Some of the scenes ended up quite long, at least by my standards. In the original draft, I had scenes as short as two hundred words and up to about a thousand—I actively kept most to less than seven hundred, or about five minutes, if read out loud. I now have a couple of scenes that take twelve minutes to record—one is nearly eighteen-hundred words and another over fourteen-hundred. I might need to break a few up into more discreet scenes.
As I go through the scenes, I continue to make edits around wording. For example, in the original draft, I started a lot of sentences with gerund phrases—this was one of my Lessons from the Fledgling Author. I made other new-writer mistakes that I have been correcting as I go. I recently learned a new lesson—when using dialog tags, always start with the proper name followed by the verb, e.g., “John said,” not “said John.” I might write about this one, since I’m not entirely sure I agree.
In terms of helping the reader keep track of location, time and distance, I added references to the places the group will next visit, as well as some clues as to how long it will take to get there. For example, “I’m going hunting. We’re far enough from Milfar, and it’s several days to Haliton.”
The editing is taking more time than I initially expected. I was hoping to be at least halfway finished by this time, and I’m probably about a third of the way. There will be less moving of scenes in the second half, although I know of at least a couple of places where I’ll need to add more scenes. Overall, I’m happy with the results. I wish I had A LOT more time to spend working on the edits.
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