Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Bezoar: appearing soon to a slushpile near you?

Yesterday all day I had a plan. When I got home, I would make a pizza (the breadmaker was all set up). Then, I was going to read through The Bezoar and make any last minute changes before sending it out to its first market. Then I would make a pass through Apophis and send it to OWW. And then I would sit down and read 100 pages of Leviathan, and maybe work on that shawl, and then bed.

Well, the pizza went fine. I remembered yeast this time (yay!) and I had already made the olive salad for Muffuletta pizza. I made a playlist, and then at around 8:30 I tweeted something like “Pizza made and eaten, blah, blah, time to read through this story and send it out.”

I was at the kitchen table working on paper. Ed was watching his stories (Ice Pilots I think). I was on page two when that ended and he went up to run himself a bath. I was on page three when he’d finished his bath. I’d written a couple of hundred new words. I skipped to the ending and I think made it stronger. My characters had unclear motives, and I gave them a goal. I wrote in a couple of jokes. I went back to the middle and, well, it wasn’t too bad. The main action sequence is pretty good, I think, which is odd because I don’t think they’re my strength (what is my strength – setting? No. Characters? No. Maybe dialog.)

11:00 rolled around. I finished with the paper draft and went back to the computer. Some of the pages were so ink-filled, I don’t think I could have figured out what I was going for if I’d left it for today, or tomorrow, or more likely next month.
Midnight. I shut off the TV.

12:21 I got to the end of my changes and mailed the story to myself. I tweeted something about the best-laid plans, read the whole internet and went to bed.

This I would call a rewrite, a substantial edit. The front and back are almost completely new. It’s about 600 words shorter than before. I took out whole blocks of text – two paragraphs about a ceremonial knife that never crops up again? Really?

I keep reading on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog that he wrote this or that short story in four hours, and newbies shouldn’t bother revising because we just wreck the voice and the passion of the story. But then, he doesn’t have my first drafts, which are only there as a framework on which to affix my edits later. I wouldn’t argue that at some point The Bezoar drifted away from being the story that I’d envisioned, and that some of the editing I did last night actually takes the story back towards my original goal for it. But I’m pretty sure his model is not mine.

No comments: