Well, I’ve just completed a pretty radical redraft of a story. (Critters, it was “Professor Whitney’s Resignation” when you saw it.) The original couple of drafts (in 2000 and 2006) were in 1st person POV, and then I redrafted the story again in epistolary form last week. That just wasn’t cutting it, though it helped me expand the story and know what was going on. The burden with the epistolary form is that if you use it exclusively, your “narrator” has to provide all the information he or she would reasonably do in a letter. One fix for this is having both the writer and recipient know certain things, so you don’t have to explain every damned thing, but in my story, this isn’t the case. Thus the form made the story much longer, and on top of that, there were some issues with voice management. The more I reworked the prose of the letter into the (somewhat extravagant, slightly purple) writing style of my character, the more unreadable or plodding it became.
Another problem was that the pace was extremely slow, something I remedied by cutting a bunch of those things I tend to include when I’m mucking about figuring out what a character might do next. Having my character muck about made sense in a way, since he’d suddenly living in a world with different rules than he thougth applied, and since he’s got little idea what to do to handle the changes. However, the pace of the story can really suffer with this kind of thing happening, and that’s a problem.
One thing that helped was, when I decided the droppings were about to connect with the fan, I slapped on some music that pushed me to make things burn. My choice? By coincidence, I’d been describing Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring and so I dug out the CD and listened to it. Great stuff, harsh and boisterous and very maniacally driving.
I still want to cut some of the story, edit it judiciously — getting it down to 6,500 words would be optimal, but I’ll settle for 7,000, which should be doable — it’s 7,850 words now and though most of it is tightened up, I may cut little bitsout just to make the pacing work.
While I let this sit for a day or so before looking at it again, what’s on my plate? Let’s see: editing a few (er, make that 4) chapters from a textbook; my story “The Spike/The Broken Path” for an anthology; my story “Winter Wheat” (including some research on IP and some more research on DRM and biotech equivalents); some sketches about weird foreigners in Korea for a friend’s book project; and an article in my new column XY for Cahoots.
Busy boy I am. More going on than that (including some uncertainty about whether I can renew my current contract — some new and loophole-ridden Korean labour law seems to be giving people incentive to get rid of their workers after two years, argh! so I can’t plan anything for November — since I may be job-hunting — or January since I may be apartment-hunting and, if I’m unlucky, dropping all my money on a key deposit) but I don’t feel like posting about it in any depth more than I have already, at least not right now.