Revision Tip and Mini Book Reviews

Let me start off by saying it’s officially the end of NaNoWriMo, and whether or not you hit your word count goals, it truly is laudable to say that you tried. So, props to you all. And I hope that December brings good editing and plotting and all that for you.

Post-Draft 1; What to Do When You’re Stuck On Revision

Revision can be a nasty beast sometimes. You’re starting from scratch, aware as possible of all the flaws from your first/second/etc. draft, and you’re determined to fix it all up so it’s more interesting, more logical, and so on. The more revisions you do, the more your novel changes, so that even if it keeps the core idea, draft 4 or 5 seems like a vastly different beast than draft 1.

And sometimes, as you continue revising, you can get so set on this one being it, being the last, that the stress that comes such ideals can actually kill your drive to write. I would know. It’s where I’m at now with my writing. I cannot connect with my characters, my plot feels like it’s in a bit of a bad way, and so I’m stuck.

But earlier today, a thought came to mind, and I’d like to share it with you all.

One of the biggest commendations an author can receive is that their novels are complex, because complexity breeds interest. I like reading a story and finding the world and characters so well-thought-out that they seem real. I like rereading stories and finding clever foreshadowing to the plot.

I think what happens is that in each draft, it still feels bland, because we wrote it, we know what happens, we know why; it doesn’t seem interesting. Or we have beta readers who tell us it needs some more pizzazz. That’s okay. Pizzazz is good. See above paragraph. It’s when we get overzealous with such things that problems begin to arise. We add so much complexity that it all seems to start fraying at the ends, and that’s never good.

It’s also perfectly fine if not everything connects to one another. You don’t want utterly random stuff in your story, but if you recognize that life is random, and people are hard to predict, you might find that a bit less complexity will not kill your novel.

So if you think that maybe your story needs to cut back a bit on all of this, I’d suggest trying a return to your first draft. Things tend to be much simpler in the first draft, and that may work to your advantage. If you try to adjust a character/scene/ plot point back to its origins and it still doesn’t work, then at least you know its current level of complexity is necessary, and it may be some other aspect that needs some fine tuning.

Mini Book Reviews

The Warded Man

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Author: Peter V. Brett

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars

This is not a fantasy book with political intrigue, quite far from Game of Thrones. But I think this book succeeded in areas that Game of Thrones flunked. For one thing, in this book there are three central characters, and although there are points where it feels like maybe we’ve forgotten about a character, most times it feels pretty evenly spaced between points of view. For another, Game of Thrones claims to be a realistic series, revolving around what it might’ve been like to live back in medieval times. Think: bandits and greedy kings, rape, death and war, rape, utter brutality, and oh yes, even more rape. A critique of the series that I saw recently noted that this “reality” may show some of the darker sides of this kind of political landscape, but nasty diseases are far from present. In Brett’s book, we’ve got bandits, greedy kings, death, war, brutality, etc. (although are far less present than GoT), but we’ve also got a healer as a main character, and so diseases are not left to the wayside. Also, we’ve got a refreshing conflict between definitely-bad “corelings” and maybe-not-heroic-but-at-least-not-utterly-evil main characters.

My only issues with the novel are that 1) A woman, if raped, almost certainly will not want anything to do with a man any time soon. 2) The plot did drag… a bit. We follow these characters from when they’re children to when they’re full adults, and sometimes important parts of their life seemed cut out while unimportant things seem included.

Ink and Bone

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Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Steampunk(ish?) alternative reality type fiction (it’s really hard to classify this one)

Rating: 3 stars

As I saw in a review on Goodreads for this book, I absolutely loved the premise behind this book. It’s about an alternative timeline where the Great Library of Alexandria never burned down, and ended up becoming an international-type government sort of like the UN but not really. There are very few physical books left in the world; it’s all mostly  digital. In fact, owning a physical book without the Library’s express permission is illegal.

Caine, I think, did a good job of creating a world whose culture differs from ours logically. It was a great premise, and I loved the three-dimensional characters, and we even had a surprising gay couple thrown in. Also, props to the author for doing a romance properly: with it being pushed to the side during action. BUT some things didn’t make sense… for example, there was character development, with what appeared to be very little reason for said development. I’d recommend it, because, hello a book about books! but don’t jump into this book thinking too hard. Just enjoy the read.

The Radiant Road (by Katherine Catmull)

I didn’t finish this book. It seemed like a very charming story, and I was interested in this idea of a book based on actual Fay lore, but I think that I’m a bit old for its targeted audience. It didn’t seem awful, but it didn’t click with me, and I didn’t get far into it.

Writing Prompt

And here’s a light-hearted(ish) prompt for you all to end today’s post. Google tells me it’s from Jim Butcher’s Dead Beat, a Dresden Files novel.

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“If I need you I’ll give you a signal.”

“What signal?”

“I’ll imitate the scream of a terrified little girl.”

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