Before November I spent a considerable amount of time reconsidering my characters and my plot. I decided to make two critical changes.
1. Add a new protagonist
2. Change the motivations for the antagonists course of actions.
I also decided to make the new protagonist the primary perspective character, the story follows him. This helps me rewrite in two ways: I get a lot more room for character interplay and development as I now have two characters to bounce dialog back and forth between, and I have to rewrite practically everything to accommodate the perspective change.
That second point kind of irritated me when I thought about it before, but the closer I got to actually doing the revision the more I realized that is in fact the reality of revision. I needed to more or less re-write everything. There will be things kept, words, phrases, even scenes, but by re-writing in the second draft I get to do-over everything better than I did the first time.
In accordance with changing the motivations for the antagonists, I realized I needed to identify each major character’s primary desire and the things in the way of their attaining or accomplishing those goals. These were two of the weakest aspects of my story before.
1. My characters desires were not evident by their actions.
2. The characters fairly easily got what they wanted.
In essence the story was boring because I was writing as a reader, with the hope that my characters get what they want. Writing like a writer on the other hand means telling your characters, “No, fuck you.” Whenever they try to get what they want. Make them cry. Make them whine. Make them hate each other, and themselves sometimes. That’s closer to writing like a writer.
Before I started the re-write but after more or less envisioning the major changes, I wrote out my plot on a big pin-board, moved pieces around, and added new pieces to help build tension and generally fix the structure. This visualization process was unbelievably helpful. I’ve sense identified even more structural problems and am working on correcting them as I go.
I am planning to finish this re-write before Nov. 30, following the Nanowrimo deadline. I caught a cold just before it started and have had absolutely no energy to write after 10pm. As devastating as that is to my progress, I’m still half par for word count. At the worst, I can continue my re-write into December, but I want to avoid that if I can. I still need to do another major revision when I’m finished with this one.
I’ll identify some of the goals of my next revision once I finish this one. It’s hard to know what they’ll turn out to be before I finish this round. I’d like to end this post on a really awesome note, so I’m going to quote (in the comments thread) writer Scott Sigler:
“Fuck the haters. Just write.”