Sunday, August 10, 2014

Story Update 2014-08-10

Editing slowed down a little bit this week, although we did get through another three chapters (Geekwif is ready to start chapter eighteen -- only seven more chapters to go!). She actually found a couple of big stumbling blocks for me this week, but we worked as a team to figure out good solutions and I have already re-written the affected parts of the story, thus greatly improving them. Even at only three chapters per week, we will be done in two or three weeks at most, which keeps us on target for the end of August.

So let's talk about one of those weaknesses, because it is one that I happen to struggle with a little bit. Geekwif noticed that several of my characters sounded like the same person, which is to say, they did not each have their own "voice". The problem was that I was working to so hard to develop certain speech patterns (grammar, syntax, and style) that would have existed in that specific time and place, that I forgot to imbue each of my characters with their own style of speaking.

For example, I had a rather laconic northman who spoke with the same "voice" as a more gregarious man from a southern kingdom. In that case, they were not even from the same region, and I definitely had a problem there. So, using the Power of Technology (TM) I did a global search for every instance of the northman's name, finding all the places where he had a speaking part, and editing his words to bring them more in line with his character. I then did the same thing for the southerner who tended to be more wordy as well as witty, and did the same with a third character as well.

Now, at the same time as I was working to ensure that each character had his own voice, I also had to account for character development. Going back to the laconic northman, I also wanted him to begin speaking more and more openly, as he got to know his companions better and became more comfortable talking to them. So he becomes more talkative over time, which may seem out of character until you realize what's happening.

The other problem that she found was more structural, having to do with a certain character that was in and out of various scenes but did not seem to fulfill any important function in the story beyond a certain point. So the question became, what do I do with him? He is certainly important within the context of a few chapters, but after those events take place, he is no longer needed. It took us a few days of back and forth discussion, but we finally figured out a way to have him gracefully bow out of the story after his part in it was fulfilled.

So, in summary, progress continues. We find problems, and we fix them. And we are still on track for the end of August.