Revisionland

Listening to: Jack Johnson, “Holes to Heaven”. Gotta say, it’s nice to have a laptop with speakers that I don’t cover with my hands when I type. Much more logical, yes?.

I’m still stuck in Revisionland.

It seems like I’ve been revising this book forever, but it’s only been since December 8. Yeah, yeah, that’s a bit of a long time, but remember that I had Christmas in there. The holidays always screw me up–all the hustle and bustle, all the buying and wrapping and traveling, makes it hard to work.

And then there was the avoidance. Oh boy, was there avoidance.

When I first started writing this one, I had no idea where it could go. Once I flipped the idea around in my head a bit, I saw some possible paths, and I took one. That path, in the end, required me to take a bit of a risk.

The scenes that are in my protagonist’s POV are written in first person. Her voice just jumped at me as soon as I started, so there was no getting around it. The story demanded it. Which was fine with me, because I do first person a lot better than I do third. A LOT. While yes, this is something I should work on, I can’t really change what the story is asking, can I?

Okay, done with the excuses now.

The story also, however, demanded another viewpoint character–my antagonist. That’s one of the downfalls of first person–you can’t really tell what’s going on anywhere but around the protagonist, and since she couldn’t have any personal contact with the bad guy for the first half of the book–didn’t even know he existed, really–I needed to throw his POV in to up the tension, as well as help the reader get to know him.

It started out in third person. I didn’t really want to take that very risky move of having two first-person viewpoint characters. I quickly realized that his scenes were becoming rather annoying, though–he was cardboard, one-dimensional, and kept spouting all these cliche bad guy lines. “She will be mine.” “I would not fail again.” Blah, blah, blah.

So I switched all his scenes to first person, sometime last summer. Surprisingly, it seemed to work–it fleshed him out quite a bit, got me much farther into his head. It helped me come up with a plausible backstory that explained his current actions. And that backstory even begged the reader for a bit of sympathy, which I like. I’m not a fan of antagonists that the reader automatically hates.

It was only when I finished and was reading through the manuscript that I realized: his sections were also ridiculously telling. Since he was alone most of the time, and we were stuck in his head, there was nothing for him to do but tell us his plans, hint at why he was doing what he was doing, fume over this and that. I wanted to smack him. I wanted to smack myself.

So I made a plan to add another character to his scenes, a sidekick or cohort of sorts, someone he could talk to.

And that’s where the avoidance came in.

This seemed like such a big project, I couldn’t help but shy away. The little voice in my head whined, “But we already changed all his scenes! I don’t wanna do it again!”

I finally got to work on it, though. And on a whim, I changed the scenes back to third person. If done with care, I can keep the things that cropped up in first person that helped flesh him out. And boy, I’m only halfway done, but those scenes are so much better now. The dialogue in there, plus the character I pulled from the second half of the book and into my antagonist’s scenes, who amuses me (he’s very impassive, and it infuriates my antagonist, which pushes him to do things he might not do otherwise, just to try and get a reaction from his cohort).

I’m going to try to finish those scenes today–just power right through them. Looking back over how these sections have evolved, I can only say that, once again, writing has surprised me.

I don’t care how long you do this–there will always be something that takes you by surprise. And that? Is just one of the many reasons why I love it.

 

Comments: 4

 
 
 

I’m doing something similar with Forging a Legend, where I’m writing Verit’s scenes as first person, told long after the events in the book. I think I might try to get a few more of the scenes done this weekend.

 

 

Ooh, that sounds like it could be interesting, Tia. The revision never ends, does it? I still go back and change things with Battle of the Hexes.

 

 

good luck with the rewrites.

I have seen books written nicely with 2 first persons, just need to make it clear who is talking.

in the end, as long as you are comfortable.

 

 

Thanks, Lisa! Yeah, my husband read it and pointed out a few chapters where he was a couple paragraphs in before he realized it was from the antagonist’s POV.

After all this, I might just go back and change it to 1st person again. I’m still not sold 100% on the third person.

*Sigh*.

 

 

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