I’ve just sat down, printed out the “Draft 3” of The Portrait of Sterling Madison, and gone over it. Truth is, I’m not a fan of it. It’s a very rough first person narrative, whose narrator is weak-voiced and tells the reader everything. It’s aimless for the most part, with a few brief scenes of vibrancy.
These scenes are what give me hope.
After a careful read through, I asked myself, “Why is it vital that this narrator tell the story?” And I realized, it isn’t. It really isn’t. Things just happen to her. She has no control over them. The events in her life are horrible and inevitable. So why in the hell is it told from her perspective?
A great professor once told me that you want your narrator to be the person with the most information. Now, that doesn’t mean they necessarily tell all, but they have the most knowledge.
Turns out, my current narrator is very much in the dark. But the other character, the antagonist, is quite knowledgeable.
How do I not own any red pens?
So, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this particular story is a complete rewrite at this time. That’s OK. To be honest, I pretty much expected it. When I first wrote this story it was my second year of creative writing classes, and I was enthralled with the concept of unreliable narrators. I absolutely HAD to write one.
Turns out it is really hard. Like, lying awake at night cursing every author you’ve read that’s pulled it off, hard. I’m a straightforward person who writes straightforward third-person narratives for most of my fiction. This project was way ahead of my skill level at the time.
But I knew that, and would revisit the story from time to time to see if my further honed skills could do anything meaningful with it.
Now I’m willing to gut the piece entirely, walk away with a sense of setting, premise, and characters, and literally start over. Some of the scenes will stay, and the ending is the same, but they’ll be rewritten in another character’s voice and perspective.
I’m actually really excited about it! I’ve been sitting on this story for years, and it’s stagnated in my indecision about how to tackle it. Finally I have a game plan. A complete rewrite isn’t ideal, but I guarantee the story will be better for it. Already this character’s voice is so much stronger. He’s endearing and funny, which will make the ending so much better.
I’m counting this as “Edits” on my whiteboard, by the way. I just went through, gutted the entire piece, and outlined its reincarnation. That sounds like “Edits” to me.
I’m not sure that Jordinn’s Story will see much action this week after all. Unfortunate, but I’ve spent a lot of time reading and working on house projects. There’s still the rest of the evening and tomorrow, so hopefully I can finish chapter 7. Just 2,000 more words…
Man, my writing muscles are out of shape!
Also, for those of you keeping track, I finished listening to Elric of Melniboné.
…Well, kind of. I fell asleep listening to the last 30 minutes of it. Three times. I’m calling it good. I won’t be doing a full fledged review because I don’t have many nice things to say about it. Perhaps it was the audio narration, but this book was dry and boring. Elric was such a drama queen, and Cymoril was useless. She was intelligent, but Elric ignored her counsel time and again, after which she existed only as property to be fought over by Elric and her brother Yyrkoon.
Also, these names are cool, but ridiculous. Especially when you’ve only been listening to them and are trying to Google search them in order to ensure proper spelling for you blog post… Good grief, man!
There were a lot of gods and demons mentioned and named, but never really explained. I think this book suffered in its audio format, but I don’t think it will be so greatly redeemed by a paper version as to seek it out and give it another go. Two weeks of listening was enough.
I’m hitting stride with Golden Son, and still powering through this listen of The Neverending Story. It’s starting to live up to its name. I’m on disc five, but the movie is pretty much over by the time these events occur. I’m worried about the eight remaining discs. Very worried.
My next “chores” audiobook, aka what I read when I’m not driving, and don’t have time to read my physical book, is Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. I always wanted to read The Dark is Rising Sequence as a child, and just never got around to it. Hopefully this narration is better than the last one.
Oh yeah, this came in the mail today too. You could say I’m pretty happy about it.
See you all soon Blogland,