Earlier this year, I announced that I was going to be writing a story with a working title of "The Beggar's Twin" for NaNoWriMo. Well, I'm not. Don't worry--I'm still planning on participating in National Novel Writing Month! But rather than working on a new project, I'm hoping to get through the extensive rewrites necessary for my NaNo project from last year, HELLHOUND.
Part of my reasons for this are learning from last year's mistakes--I had a completed draft of The Mark of Flight rewritten, and I wanted to give myself some time before polishing it. I started in on HELLHOUND with very little background, zero character sketches, and a notecarded outline I ended up discarding roughly half of in favor of a single point of view and fewer story-threads. I made the 50,000 words mark, took a break for the holidays, and finished the book in February.
I was feeling pretty self-congratulatory until I raised my head, meercat-like, and scented revision on the wind.
And not just one revision, either. Two of them--great hulking homunculi of mismatched parts, dripping with adverbs, plot threads dragging where the sword of my authorial mind cut them in the belly (see picture above). Their shambling structure was so terrifying, I wanted to dive back into my warm little warren of creation and ignore the monsters I'd already released onto the page.
I knew editorial sword was strong enough for one of them...but two?
No, I was writer. I was warrior. I would not give up. I leapt from the ground with sword in hand and hacked at one, then the other, gouging out insignificant characters and slicing through the vestigal remnants of obsolete plots, scraping to the bone in some places, ruthlessly filleting in others.
The older, heavily wounded monster of The Mark of Flight sank to its knees and lifted its head, bleating for mercy, and I dealt the death-blow. The first beast was down, and I delivered its taxidermied carcass to the judging ring.
Before I could turn my eyes to the second beast, the first one burst into flame and was reborn...with promises and offers from a greater power. It could be something--it could really, possibly fly. I just had to fix the structural problems my untrained eye had not seen. I nodded my head, seeing the rightness of it. If I just moved that limb a little higher, excised the malignant growth around the middle...
It's tempting to give myself a rest, to ignore the snorts and cries of the second creature in favor of new creation. After all, having fixed one creature and hacked at the problems of another, I know more about creating them. I have a better idea of the process. I want to see how that goes.
But the hideous monster produced by last year's NaNoWriMo is huffing at the back of my neck, and my new story-creature deserves my full attention, and I still don't have the image of it fully realized in my head.
Okay, time to end that metaphor.
What I'm saying is this: The Mark of Flight is almost done, and I've got a lot of hope for it. HELLHOUND is fully realized, re-oulined, cut, and shaped in my head and all I need to do is write the new scenes and do a little cosmetic work.
When I send MoF back into the world, I would rather have HELLHOUND completely ready to go, just in case something happens with MoF and I've got to dive into the second book of The Markmasters Trilogy. If The Mark of Flight turns out to be not quite ready to leave the nest, I will have another manuscript ready to submit.
Picture by DaveAllsop of Deviant Art.