Storybook Perfect

Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Tag: revision

Revision Conundrum

I’ve come to a point in editing Written By The Stars where I have to decide whether or not to pull out a cool plot point.

The concept of this part of the plot is awesome and it would be a great way to show the differences between Fanta’s home world (our own) and the world she ends up in. On the other hand the only way to solve it in this book is to either change a part of the story’s climax I don’t want to change, or make it part of the driving source for a sequel novel.

I’ve idly toyed with the idea of a sequel to Written By The Stars almost since its completion, but have never had a strong enough plot idea to make me want to commit to it.

Now I haven’t got a choice. If I keep this plot thread in, I need to resolve it in the second book (because all first book resolution options make me want to barf for entirely non-pregnancy related reasons), or I need to remove all mention of it and stick with a stand-alone fantasy novel. This means I have to pause in editing to see if I can make a plot outline worth committing to.

Which is a pity since my editing momentum has been great the last few weeks since I restarted working on this revision back at the writers retreat.

</rant> ;p

The Perfect Line

You know that perfect line. That line you can’t forget. The line that even if you wanted to you couldn’t scrub out of your memory with the scratchiest brillo-pad. If you still haven’t grasped the concept here’s two examples, one with no background (because I assume you all have watched Disney’s movie ‘Tangled’. If not, SPOILER WARNING) and one with a lot of background.

“You were my new dream”

So first, Tangled. The line Flynn says at the end (when we all think he’s dying) “You were my new dream”.

And just in case that wasn’t a good enough example of a perfect line. In the manga series ‘With The Light’(which you might be sick of me talking about with two posts in the last few weeks on it, here and here) the mother of the autistic child Hikaru needs to fill out a questionnaire on behalf of her son in which one of the questions is ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’. She eventually decides Hikaru would want to be (here’s the perfect line) “A happy working adult”. Even now, years after reading it for the first time, I remember that line. When I heard the manga-ka (Keiko Tobe) had passed away before completing the series I became frantic with worry that she may not have ended the series so I would never discover if Hikaru grew up into ‘a happy working adult’.

As a writer you can’t help but strive for that level of impact. Problem is sometimes it comes out cheesey. Other times the paranoid editor who hides within every writer thinks it’s too cheesey when in actuality it’s dead on and everyone but you can see it. Also it can be exhausting trying that hard on nearly every line of dialogue.

I’m currently revising ‘Storybook Perfect’, my first novel (which clearly this blog is titled after) in preparation for the Harper Voyager open submissions and every few pages (I’m lying, paragraphs!) I stop and agonise over a line, trying to make it perfect. This manuscript is being seen by the publisher, it hasn’t had an agents loving hand run over it to smooth out any creases, and a stay-at-home mum doesn’t easily have the money to hire an editor. I’m panicking that just about any imperfection could be the difference between acceptance and rejection – which of course it is. There will be thousands of authors competing and there is an undefined (at least not on the page I read) number of vacancies. If I’m rejected I know it won’t be the end of the world, I’m made of far tougher grit than that, but it would be awful to miss an opportunity like this simply because the work wasn’t perfect.

Of course perfection is all about perception.

What’s your favourite perfect line? It can be either your own creation (in which case please give us some context) or something you’ve seen/read.

 

Tangled image full rights belong to Disney.

***While trying to hunt down a picture of Flynn’s ‘death scene’ I came across a picture of a cosplayer ‘bringing the smoulder’ and couldn’t stop laughing. I got permission to link to it so please go here and enjoy! If you have a DA account comment too please 😀 ***

Revision and The Anti-Muse

I do have some proper content to provide you with, but first I just want to gush briefly about my son. While buttering our breakfast crumpets I wondered why on earth he was being so quiet in the living room, so peered around the corner to check, assuming Sesame Street would be filling his little eyes with wonder. Instead I found him on one of the chairs at the dining room table. He had prised open my laptop and grabbed what remained of my morning tea and was drinking the tea with one hand while bashing the keyboard with the other. This is exactly what he perceives my early morning to be ;p It was so cute, but I couldn’t grab the camera for fear he might spill the tea on my precious PC.

OK, on with the content my title promised.

I’m revising the recently finished first draft of (working title) Fanta’s Story – it has a temporary alternate title of ‘All The Stars’ but it’s fighting against ‘The Missing Stars’ and ‘The Dissidents and Stars’ all I know is stars are most definitely going to be involved in the title. More on titles in a later post.

Right now I’m wondering if I may have jumped into my revision a little too soon. There’s plenty of red pen to be found, rewrites scrawled on the back of the page it will belong to, but something still doesn’t seem right. I can’t pinpoint it right now and the work is still far too rough for me to show it to anyone just yet. Possibly my squirgly tummy is reacting simply to that roughness – Storybook Perfect was rewritten about eight times before it even made it to first draft stage NOT THE WAY TO DO THINGS, BELIEVE ME! – or maybe my brain is filled with the paranoia which comes along and plagues writers and other artists from time to time. You know what I mean, that ‘I’ll never be good enough’ attitude that pushes to the fore-front of our grey-matter on occasion to make us doubt our skill, our talent, our resolve, our very self-worth.

Writers often talk about ‘the Muse’ as the wonderful part of our mind that blesses us with the very best ideas. This beast that bursts forth I call the Anti-Muse. Creativity splutters to a halt, and the editor becomes even more perfection driven than usual, critical of everything without reserve. I’m even looking at my website – which long term readers will know took me three days to get to this stage due to a lack of knowledge of CSS code – and thinking it looks too kiddie, like my attempt at a Sailor Moon fan site when I was fifteen. It’s frustrating because I do not have the time to learn the code I need to make the site look more professional but neither do I have the money to pay someone to do it for me and the Anti-Muse sure as heck won’t let me leave it like this for much longer.

The Anti-Muse has some good ideas of things to add, like perhaps the blurb or pitch for my novels and a teaser or taste of the first chapter – I might leave that for when I have the books at a stage where they are ready or almost ready to sell – but she’s none to nice when she offers these ideas up.

A part of me wants to step back from the revision and give myself a little more time, but the other part of me tells me I might as well finish this run off and then come back again at a later date, after all, we all know I’ll never just do one revision anyway.

I think what I really need to do is take the Anti-Muse and go for a drive and leave her in some ditch on the side of the road between here and the highway (there’s a lovely, long stretch of road with not much but fields, trees and distant houses that runs for about 15 kilometres) but considering she’s a part of me (and has a few valid points) I think it might be better to weather the storm and keep reminding myself she’s just my anxieties given voice.

Do you have any good names for your Anti-Muse? Or can you think of any particularly heinous monsters whose name could be used? Let’s have a good laugh at the expense of our inner-critics.

Holy Crap

I just finished my second novel.

Wow, my head is spinning with the excitement and I feel like I can’t catch my breath even though I’ve not run or danced or am having an asthma attack.

It’s hard to believe that what took me nearly ten years the first time around has this time taken only a smidge over two months – definitely an improvement on efficiency. I started on February 14 with the intention of entering the novel in the Vogel Awards (since changed my mind). That’s crazy fast. Admittedly, I had the idea a little over two years ago but had never tapped out anything more than a general outline and one funny bit of banter between the main characters and the occasional scribble of an idea I had from time to time. On the 14th I outlined the whole thing into scenes in Scrivener and on the 15th I started to write. Now, on the 19th of April, I have finished my first draft.

Fanta’s Story (which I’m considering calling ‘All the Stars’ or something damn close to that) is 65,000 words, but will probably end up a little longer in revision as I’ve had a few ideas and need to develop a few more things in my revision. If you’re curious and on Pintrest, I have two boards up related to this novel: ‘For All the Stars’ and ‘Clothing Research For My Latest Novel’. A bit more of a description will be coming in my next post, but I’ll leave you hanging for now for the sake of this post’s brevity.

So what’s on the-to do list now? Well I need to revise. It’s only the first draft I’ve completed and I’d be ashamed for anyone to see it yet (apart from perhaps my parents). First I’ll probably make myself read something non-fiction (after I finish ‘The Forbidden Land’ anyway), then re-read my book on revision (I have two, so I’ll probably flip a coin) then try to do the best edit I can. After that off to my loyal test readers and while they devour it, onto the next project, which is still a bit up in the air as to what it will be.

Well, now I’ve made this post its time to run spell check ;p

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