Monday, May 29, 2006

Structural Thoughts

I wrote an essay a while back that I printed on my old site about my problem revising what I've written. My basic thesis was that once I finish laying out a story, or writing the first draft, the thing sets in my mind like concrete and I have major problems trying to change anything after that. I might make minor revisions, change a detail here and there, add a bridging scene or remove one, but as far as reimagining large parts of the story, it just doesn't happen.

So after I finished the first draft of Hero Go Home on Saturday and read it yesterday, today I find myself making notes about things I want to fix, and damned if I'm not considering some major changes, especially in Act I.

Because Act I is the weakest, really. I wrote it all, with the exception of a few scenes added later, in the first 8 days of November, so I really rushed through it and avoided scenes and ideas that I thought would be too complicated or add too much length. Now the book is really lopsided; Act I is less than a quarter of the book's full length, while Act III is almost half.

And most of what's in Act I is dialogue scenes--pages and pages of dialogue. I've worried before about the talky beginning, and let me tell you: it actually works pretty well. The dialogue scenes aren't boring, and they're really important to let us get to know the main characters. But the middle of Act I could use some fleshing out (and serendipitously, I need to flesh it out to bring it more in line with Baen's word-length preferences for novels), and the emotional arcs could be sharper.

I'd really like to sit down and discuss this with some smart writers to help me break the story a bit and make sure I've got a good plan for fixing the structure of Act I. Act II needs to be sharpened a bit, too, especially in the first half, but I haven't gotten to the point where I'm ready to take it on. But over the next few days, I'll get some ideas together.

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