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Archive for the month “December, 2009”

Editing: a clear plan of attack

I know I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but once my current checklist is done, I’ll put out a new checklist that is MUCH longer, and taken largely from this blog post over at The Blood-Red Pencil:

Top Ten Things I Know About Editing

The post is written by Alexandra Sokoloff, who writes thrillers (among other things). Her most recent novel is The Unseen.

My editing style is…I don’t have one. I just read, change what I don’t like, move on, jump around, change something else, go back, re-read, find something else I want to change, etc. It’s time-consuming, inefficient and doesn’t even address the content, just the wording.

That’s why I find this post so useful. Alexandra lines out a clear plan of attack, with phases I can turn into those checklists I’m so fond of. I’m really looking forward to trying it.

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Starting with a backstory and why I’m replacing it.

Veiled Iron starts with Layla’s memories of her fifth birthday, the day her father offered to teach her to play siegeball. It’s a great introduction to the setting, the culture, and the game–but as most agents or editors will tell you, starting with a backstory is a no-no. It’s helpful for you, the writer to know the backstory, but for catching and keeping a reader’s interest, it’s best to start right into the story, distilling details from that history as you go along.

Yeah, rules are made to be broken, but as a writer, I’m no different from any of the others out there trying to write something that will sell. The temptation to believe this backstory is the exception is so strong that I think it needs to go.

So today I started the new intro. We’ll see where it goes!

What is Siegeball?

Siegeball is football (the American kind) repurposed for an empire who uses it to settle disputes within its borders. My concept is that in this world’s history, siegeball/football in its earliest beginnings was a simulation for war (with different waves of attack, different positions representing the specialties one might find in an army, a degree of controlled violence, etc) and that over time, the simulation evolved into a highly ritualized, rule-bound sport.

Is it a coincidence that this game evolved into the exact rule structure one finds in the modern NFL? Sure, but that’s no more a problem than any other parallel situation in speculative fiction.

Positions on a football team and their siegeball counterparts:

  • quarterback = lancer
  • running back = ram
  • offensive line = vanguard
  • wide receiver = receiver
  • tight end = flanker
  • fullback = shield
  • defensive line = wall line
  • linebacker = linebacker
  • safety = safety
  • cornerback = rearguard
  • kicker = kicker
  • punter = punter

As you can tell, not everything changed. I left some anchor words for those who are already familiar with football terms–usually words that just flat-out made sense or that seemed like it would be overkill to change.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’d really appreciate it!

The Checklist

So I thought I could put a checklist as a sidebar, but thus far, no dice. So voila! it’s a post instead.

By the second week of January, I plan to have:

  • rewritten the intro
  • regularized the names
  • regularized the terms
  • written a preliminary query

This is just a checklist for polishing the first draft, not an attempt at a second draft. Yet.

First draft of Veiled Iron: Done. Blog started: Check.

Well, to commemorate finishing the first draft of Veiled Iron (formerly known as Siegeball), I’ve decided to start a blog. I put this step off for many years, preferring to work in the vacuum of my own company, but heck if every other aspiring author is doing it, I ought to test the waters myself, right?

Now that Veiled Iron is finished, I think I’ll set up a checklist to keep myself on task. When I attack a check, I’ll blog about it. When I complete a check, I’ll blog about it. Pretty simple. I may blog about other things, too, but for now I think I’ll stick to the format.

Happy writing everyone!

~Michelle

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