March 20th, 2005


3/20/05: A good day's editing

Editing hours: 15.8 | Since last entry: 5.2 | Percent complete: 16%

Spent the entire day editing, while Kate went to Seattle for a square dance. By suppertime I was feeling rather as though I'd wasted the day, having spent much of that time just re-reading my deathless prose and fiddling with words here and there. But after supper I really buckled down. I moved the scene where Clarity sees her father in his sickbed for the first time up to the beginning of the second Clarity chapter, reducing a 500-word scene in which Clarity is hustled out of the auditorium (which I spent a whole evening writing earlier this week, sigh) to a four-paragraph flashback. I think that has ironed out the continuity problem I was so worried about in my last entry.

Also killed a couple of other darlings -- sentences I loved dearly when I first wrote them two years ago, and have survived every other attempt to prune them up to now. Here's one of them, included for posterity:

"Cedar Point had once been nothing but a suburb of Denver, an undistinguished bedroom community like thousands of others across the country. But on October 23, 2050, Cedar Point had changed from a place to a point in time -- a charred hole in history, like Wounded Knee or My Lai or Chernobyl."

Reason for its demise: the new Prologue, which actually shows the Cedar Point disaster. I still like that sentence, dammit, but it had to go.

The press conference scene that used to be the first major scene of the chapter is now in the middle, and I need to think about it a little while longer before I decide whether or not it's needed at all.

I think that's all the major rewriting I need to do, huzzah. I may be able to go faster from now on. To help keep myself focused, I think I may write my editing goals for Jason and Clarity on an index card. My massive To-Do file is just too large to keep track of, and many of the items in it are just not going to happen. Primarily what I'm trying to do for both of them is make them more protagonisty: more active, less reactive; more angry, less whiny; and more emotion via description, less "I'll describe what's happening and the reader will know how the character feels." (Though that's all stuff I thought I was doing before...)

One last thing before I fall over: my forte seems to be the "middle-sized picture," both in writing and in user interfaces. My plots and layouts are conventional, not revolutionary, but I never mess up the continuity and my Apply buttons are always disabled when the inputs aren't correct. In both cases my hope is that a well-executed conventional thing will be accepted better than a half-baked revolutionary thing.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.