The Slaves and The Djinn: Read through update

Hello, my friends and the occasional relative!

So, it has been a few weeks now since I finished my Ernest Hemingway edit-as-I-go manuscript (digital), and this weekend I sat down and read it in one uninterrupted sitting.

I tried VERY hard not to stop and edit, or add comments as I went, but I can’t lie, I had to fix some typos, a horrid sentence or two, and a misnamed city many times. I put in maybe three comments as reminders for when I am doing the rewrites, other things I just mentally noted as I am certain when I get back to those passages I will notice the same issues I spotted this time around. In general I am very pleased with that, as in the past I may not have been able to move on and trust myself to get it later. Progress, haha!

The verdict? I’m biased. I had plenty of Robert Frost moments when my own writing moved and engaged me, which is great, if a bit potentially onanistic. I also noticed terrible writing and god-awful paragraphs, and clunky dialogue and and and, but when I spoke in earlier blogs of some rebalancing being required, I felt this time less was needed than I had previously imagined. Of course I read the book with my Writer’s Almanack™ of all background information and every happening off page in my conscious and subconscious mind, so what makes sense to me due to assumed knowledge may be much more opaque to others who are not me. This is why beta readers are required. I will still pay attention to my notes in the text suggesting additions/alterations, I’m just not as certain they are all necessary. If it can be done elegantly and with a minimum of fuss, it shall be; if not, I’ll leave it to my beta readers to confirm if some of those extras are truly needed.

I did notice one sharp break that will require reworking, and I know it is significant because as I read it hit me, and I didn’t want to admit it, and tried my best to rationalize it away and say, “No, this is justified because X, Y, Z.” When you say that to yourself as a writer you need to realize you are bargaining to keep something that is wrong for your story, and stop. If you don’t, and allow yourself to keep the stuff you had to strain your own credulity to keep, a lot of your readers probably won’t bother. They aren’t interested in your intellectual arguments as to why something that is essentially the same is actually totally different, because context. (And I do love that argument, but it has to be convincing to work, (like a hero facing a similar dilemma at the end of a book as at the beginning, and their journey has prepared them to make a better choice second time around, for instance), and I couldn’t even convince myself here, so I had to admit I’d taken a wrong track. A better one exists, I found it while sitting in my car going to lunch, I just missed it as I wrote, and took the easy path I’d written before.)

Bottom line: don’t make it easy for your readers to leave your story behind just because you want to keep a darling or three—kill them and move on.

So I stopped defending my bad arc, and have started to think about my car solution, and how I can shift the language and action at that point to better fit the character and story progression. (Basically our heroine makes a lot of forward progress, but then retreads some ground she has gone over already after a setback. Not a thrill for our readers. In the writing it was easy to fall back to those previously trodden patterns of angst, when what was required are new progressive patterns of angst, so instead of treading over old ground she has to deal with new problems and resolve them. My last book was the grimmest I’ll ever write (most likely), this is probably the most genuinely angst ridden. I’m just setting them up and knocking them down, folks! Sunshine and rainbows are just around the corner!

Anyway, that’s where we are. I have done the read through. I have until June 30th to do all rewrites, then it goes out to beta readers to shatter all my delusions of cohesion. This will cause me some angst, but that’s part of the writing journey I have to take to get to the end of this book’s long road. Then it’ll be on to the next one!


One thought on “The Slaves and The Djinn: Read through update

  1. Jason

    Hey Roddy,

    Greetings from one of the FatOR crew (often think so close to factor… bah, anyway).

    Beta readers will def be able to smack you a bit and let you know. At this point, not something you really need to worry about… errr, more… That might be a positive way to deal with their critiques as here they are not going to tell you anything you didn’t already sense.

    I’ll say I’m kind of intrigued about your protagonist making mistakes and needing to retrace. That isn’t so “normal” in lit… and I like the idea. I think the wide public can relate and will like it… maybe, better said, “identify with it”. Might actually be a good technique.

    Keep up the hard work… know I’m commenting a bit behind the posts… but hey! lol

    FatOR! Get your butt in here just for encouragement. Grrrrr… lol.

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