Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Moving Finger Writes And Having Writ, Rewrites..."

All apologies to Omar Khayyam, but I guess he never had to rewrite. As most of the regular few dozen readers know, I submitted my huge novel earlier this year to DAW Books and was rejected. Taking that to heart, I took the prologue to my writer's group (North County Writers of Speculative Fiction - check out the Meetup notice on this page) and got some feedback.

Oy, did I get feedback. I needed it. Without going too much into detail, I will say that they were right. The biggest complaint was that I was too emotionally detatched from the text and it made the characters hard to care about.

This caused me consternation, not because of the criticism, but because I had spent so much time initially writing the dang thing. Now I needed to overhaul the entire text - starting with the prologue, of course - and try to integrate my characters' emotions and motivations better. Had I not spent years doing it, it wouldn't have been a problem. But because I had done so, and I could actually simply recite entire pages of the novel from repetition, it proved very difficult.

I think I finally solved the problem. I stopped trying to integrate myself into the piece and simply started over. I found that I was able to reuse entire paragraphs and lines that I wanted and/or needed. But the entire structure of the prologue shifted and changed. I think it's become more tangible, real. It feels more like the prologue you'd find on a dark fantasy novel in a bookstore somewhere. I think I may have improved it.

That doesn't mean I like it better, though. After years of marriage with the first text, I nearly cried when it came time to excise lines, paragraphs, and ideas that I loved - lines, paragraphs, and ideas that I know will never again appear.

I found myself wondering if I'd learn to love the new step-text as opposed to my own children-text. I then shook my head and realized I was thinking about this in an entirely wrong fashion. I needed to have criticism from my writer's group. As such, it's clear that I'll need feedback about this.

Since I began this blog in January, I told those of you that had read the original version that I'd hoped to post some Heroes stuff here. I'm doing so now. I'm going to post part of the first paragraph, and then a link to continue (I don't want to fill this page with 2,100 words). If you want to read it, feel free. If you're one of our new friends, you're also welcome to read it, since likely you're a writer or a reader.

But if you do, please leave a comment. Leave what you like, for good or bad, but don't feel obligated to leave any particular amount. I'll take what you offer. I genuinely believe that criticism is a gift and I will happily accept whatever any of you are willing to give.

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, this is dark fantasy, set in a large city (that doesn't in any way, shape, or form look like London. I know - heresy!) I'm not going to give you any world-building, since other readers won't be given that option. To anyone who reads it, enjoy.

Prologue - Darkness

Jorski Thurnam – known as “Horse” to his friends, and Watchman Thurnam to the rest of the city – stood in the middle of the intersection, and looked up the Street of Nets to where an entire block’s worth of oil lamps had all been extinguished. He swiveled on the cobblestones, cocked his head just a bit, and focused on the mystery in front of him. For a couple of blocks, the lamps on both sides of the street were burning. Beyond that, they were dark. He took a last long draw on the pipe in his mouth before tucking the briar into his belt. He glanced around. It was quiet, as it often was in this part of town, this time of night. He unwound the strap that tied his truncheon to his belt. Weapon in hand, he started up the street toward the smear of darkness. He quickly left the large warehouses behind and moved into a neighborhood of small shops and rowhouses. He slowed as he came to Gundrin Way, the first cross-street, and heard the clatter of hooves on cobbles. One of the city’s black-painted broughams raced by, nearly cutting him off. Had he not been distracted, he would have banged on it with his truncheon as it passed. It was moving much too quickly.

To continue: http://www.writersownwords.com/washroomannex/work/215/


  1. The first two paragraphs feel kinda bland but once the dialouge kicks in, it smooths out and warms up. I like it.

  2. Loved the prologue. Flows well, especially the tension. Loved the names of characters. Good imagery. I could see the neighborhood, smell the horses, feel the fear. So many wonderful phrases such as "smear of darkness." The only change I would make would be to clean up a few words such as "the." But that is it. Great Job!

    Don't want to log in but I am your twitter friend ficwriter.