First, Shades. I’ve finished the bird edit, and am now about two chapters into the line edit. Line editing is hard, mostly because I’m realizing how much I skim when I’m reading. Now I’m forcing myself to actually read every sentence, and make a judgment on whether that sentence says what I want to say in as few words as possible. Slow work. One interesting thing I’ve discovered are…well, I’m calling them “remnants”. Little snippets of phrasing in certain places that are from two or three drafts back. Most of them no longer belong, because the wording and motivation and flow of the scene have evolved so much. Interesting how common they are, and how easy they are to miss on a casual read-through.
I’ve begun re-reading my First Draft in 30 Days book, and thinking about how I’m going to approach re-writing the second installment in Shades. At the conference, I want to at least be able to say that I’m “working on” the second book. Hopefully if I start the re-write with a system, it will go faster than this first book has.
In other news, I finally got my hands on copies of the first two books in a series I was curious about: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness. I’ve finished the first book and started on the second. I picked them up solely because their titles were so compelling. The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer. I mean, come on…titles like that beg to be read. The voice of the story actually irritated me at first; the protagonist speaks in a very Huck Finn sort of way, ain’t and yer and phonetic spellings of words. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but you get used to it. Premise of the story is interesting…not unique, but approached in a unique way. But man, those titles. That’s why a book title has to be compelling.
Also picked up a book called Shade by Jeri Smith Ready. Anything with a title or premise that seems remotely similar to my Shades, I make a point to read. Just to make sure my story is sufficiently different. Shade is a pretty run-of-the-mill paranormal romance, not the best thing I’ve read but far from the worst. I enjoyed it, but there was one aspect that annoyed the hell out of me. It’s a sin that certain anime shows tend to pull, also, and maybe it’s just a particular irritant of mine. But: don’t introduce a mystery you aren’t going to explain. Don’t hint at certain aspects of worldbuilding, and then never come back to them. Rah Xephon did this, Evangelion did this. Arg. When you haven’t explained what exactly the Mu are, or where the Angels come from and why they are attacking, I don’t feel like the story is over. I am left feeling extremely unsatisfied. Maybe that’s a personal problem, but there it is.
Shade was bad about that. Basic premise: one solstice, something called the Shift occurred, and all children born afterwards possess the ability to see ghosts. The story takes place sixteen years later, and is about a girl who was the first one born after the Shift. There’s a possibility that her birth caused the Shift, but like most of the mysteries in the book, this was not explained. There was a whole subplot about her trying to figure out why her mother was in Ireland a year before the Shift, and who her father was, and if that was all connected to the Shift. One of the other characters, Zach, was the last one born before the Shift, and has this ability to scare away ghosts. All these things are introduced, but never explored. Never explained. I got to the end of the story, which ends in kind of an odd place, and thought to myself, “That’s it? Is that it?”
If this is the first book in a series, I would be willing to forgive everything I just complained about. However, there’s no indication anywhere in the book or on the cover that this is a series, or if there will be a sequel. I finished the book without being convinced that the story was over. It just kind of stopped. Only one plot threat was resolved. Everything else still hangs wide open. That sort of thing frustrates the hell out of me as a reader. Maybe that’s why there are so few anime shows I feel like I really “get”.
Anyway, I have Towers of Midnight, The Clockwork Angel, Linger, Last Sacrifice, and a few other titles still in my library queue. I do hope they don’t all come in at once (because, OMG, ToM is like 300,000 words or something). I checked out Wicked, and may attempt Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…that whole emerging genre of hijacking and twisting classics as they enter public domain is fascinating.
I also have Orson Scott Card’s Characters and Viewpoint sitting on my floor, since I liked his other writing book on sci-fi and fantasy so much. However, lately I’ve been reading some blogs online and realizing that a lot of people have a pretty negative opinion of the man and his writing. It puts me in a bit of an odd place, because on one hand, I don’t know anything about Card’s personal beliefs, and I haven’t read many of his books. It’s kind of scary to discover that I’ve been absorbing writing advice from a person who many people believe writes badly. However, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy is undoubtedly one of the most useful books on writing that I own, despite being about twenty years out of date. I can’t deny that book’s value to me just because other people don’t like the man. Eh, it’s a weird mental situation. I’m willing to extend the benefit of the doubt, at least to his writing books.
In other writing news, I discovered a great, gaping plot hole in my Grimms premise. But that’s a subject for a separate post. Mostly I’ve just been struggling with getting Hands Like Secrets line edited, and ready to submit by January. I think I’ll get there.