The first edit is finished and posted. The angry argument has been removed from the scene. It will reappear later in the story.
I went to a new workshop tonight, the Palm Harbor School of the Novel. It was their second monthly meeting. They have a couple of writers who have previously been published, so their perspective will be extremely valuable. We each had an opportunity to read five pages of our writing if we wished, and me being the approval-seeking whore that I am… I wished. I read the first scene of Chapter One, that being approximately five double-spaced pages of material. The feedback I got was generally good. Some of my research was questioned, which was fair. My writing was well-received, particularly my concise use of dialogue, which I appreciated. The best suggestion I received was something that at once surprised me and relieved me. I’m going back to the Prologue idea, but with just the two scenes of Chapter One being the Prologue. What is currently Chapter Two will be the new Chapter One. This will also introduce the central character in Chapter One, which is as it should be. Sorry about the changing of things (again), but that’s what happens during the draft stage of writing. It’s kinda like making sausage.
I’d been trying to write the final scene of Chapter 3 and having some trouble. While discussing the book with Denise, she mentioned a couple of things in the way of criticism that were really helpful. One was that in several scenes I either mention or outright focus on the death of Charles and Eva’s daughter Elizabeth. To me, each mention of it made sense, added to the story, and fit where I put it. But Denise turned out to be right, too. It was a bit of overkill to keep bringing it up in scene after scene. The problem was a storyline structure that naturally and repeatedly hearkened back to the Goodmans’ tragedy. While Denise and I were discussing this, it also occurred to me that while Eva is reacting naturally to the events in each scene, I’m missing an opportunity to show the descent of her mental and emotional stability in a natural progression.
So, I’m rewriting the story from the end of the last scene of Chapter 2 onward. I’m re-using as much of the material as possible, but with some careful rearranging of things and adding some new material I’m hoping that I can address the problem Denise highlighted and create a sequence of events for Eva to naturally react to which will show a steady deterioration of her grasp of reality.
With some excellent criticism, the story is going to have a chance to become stronger and better! Thank you, Denise!
I made a name change to one of the characters: Charles Goodman’s wife. Her name was Belinda, but I changed it to Eva.
Some of you have noticed that I have gone to great lengths to make the setting as accurate as possible. One of the ways I’ve done that is by not only using the names of actual villages and towns in Hungary, but researching those towns and villages to find out what they were like in the 1500s. Some of them didn’t even go by the same name back then and to make sure that my descriptions are accurate I have used as much information as I could find about the towns and villages as they were back then. This research is necessary to make sure that the story works. Incorrect information here can potentially create a glaring error in the story or even wreck a plot entirely.
But, to avoid getting bogged down in too much research during the draft, one area where I have decided (in general) not to do this is with peoples’ names. Some of you have probably noticed that the names I’m using are familiar: Charles Goodman, Matthew Miller, Daniel Paris, et cetera. These names are not at all Hungarian names, but very Anglo-American. At some point these names will have to be swapped for Hungarian names to make the setting feel more authentic. It’s not necessary that I do this during the draft because these characters’ names don’t really affect the plot or the story in any way. Right now they are simply convenient “handles” to help me keep the various characters straight in my mind as I compose the draft.
What happened with the Belinda Goodman character was that a Hungarian name simply came to me, so I went ahead and stuck it in, replacing Belinda with Eva. But being very late when I posted the story I forgot to go back and make the changes or make note of them here in the blog. Sorry for the oversight and I apologize for any confusion. Also, my thanks to Nonie who pointed it out to me.
See you all soon!
Attended the bi-weekly Clearwater Writers’ Meetup tonight. One of the things we do is go around the group and read ten minutes’ worth of our writing for the other members of the group to critique. I read the first two scenes of the draft (now called Chapter 1) at the last meeting so tonight I began at Chapter 2. In the ten minutes I was allotted, I read the first two scenes and got about halfway through the third (and final) scene of the second chapter. What can I say about the feedback other than that it warmed my heart to hear my work so well-received by other writers. I dare not be so effusive as to show outwardly the depth of my appreciation and gratitude out of concern for generating embarrassment on both their part and mine, but inwardly I can scarcely contain the joy I feel when people enjoy my writing.
The story itself seems to be getting the most praise. Tonight’s reading revealed the vampires’ ability to assume the identities of specific people by consuming their blood and changing their shape to physically match a person using their blood as template. Everyone seemed to agree that it was a very unique twist on more traditional vampiric abilities. They did not see it coming and felt that I did a good job of revealing it. On a more technical note, cutting away from Zsaka at the moment she first becomes stuck in the tunnel to focus on the events taking place concurrently in the castle above her was also well-liked.
The encouragement I’m getting from everyone has been critical to my ability to continue writing. I really can’t express the amount of gratitude I feel toward every single one of you who are interested enough in my writing to follow it and cheer me on. If this book ever gets published it will be because of all of you; because you refused to allow me to quit. I hope it isn’t too premature to thank you for it now at the time when I am the lucky beneficiary of your generous praise and criticism. I also hope that by cheering your efforts to push me onward that you won’t stop doing so when I hit future rough patches.
So, now I’m going to take the momentum from tonight’s meeting and see if I can channel it into some words.
[Editor’s Note: This blog entry was written when the content which is now Chapters One through Three was originally going to be the Prologue. But the “Prologue” ran far too long to be a Prologue so I made it the start of the book. So, the “problem” I complained about in this blog entry was resolved.]
I told some of you that the Prologue was going to comprise 6 scenes and that the scene I was currently working on was the sixth and final scene, bringing the Prologue to a conclusion. Well, it appears that the book has made a liar of me. I just finished the sixth scene and the introductory story of the Prologue just isn’t done. I have this sinking impression that any editor worth their salt would tell me to cut this Prologue in about half, but I hope not because if I have to trim this Prologue as drastically as all that, then I’d probably rather shove an icepick in my eye.
One more scene ought to do it, and before I get to that I’ll go ahead and post Scene Six. It turned out to be a bit more action-oriented than I thought it would be as I sat down to write it. I had in mind an almost Currier & Ives / Norman Rockwell feel for the scene and it did start out that way, but sometimes when you’re writing characters do what the hell they want and things happen that you never considered when you started. And, well, it just happened to me. And now I can safely push the spotlight away from myself and put it where it truly belongs – on the story itself. This story is wanting to be told, it is demanding to be told, and it will be told; but I was foolish to ever think that this was my story or my talent that was creating it. It’s as if this story exists already as a thing and it is simply using me to bring itself into the world. It may be my fingers on the keyboard but I’ve just realized that I’m simply along for the ride, same as you.
I wonder what the hell these people are going to do next…