Monday, August 12, 2013

The evolution of a first page

The first page of THE LEGACY OF THE EYE has changed quite bit since I first started writing the novel. Some writers begin too early and need to cut several pages before they find the engaging start. My problem seems to be the opposite. The original opening I wrote is now on page 152.

What I thought was back story that could be given in short flashbacks was actually the inciting incident and first major plot point. Apparently, I started writing the story from the mid-point. Hence, I had to work my way forward and backward, to the beginning and end. And even after I thought I had a complete story, I realized I was not beginning with a hook. So I added an extra scene.

My new first page is below. You can compare it with the previous version here. Feedback is always appreciated.


David: Proposal

It might have been a symbolic gesture, but I was not budging. My hand covered the keypad inside the traveling pod as I faced the old instructor standing next to me. "Come on, Max. We're leaving the school anyway, why not let me punch the code?"

Arms crossed over his loose-fitting black outfit, the short instructor obscured the pod's doorway. "The council should have made you wait until after graduation like everyone else."

Cat and I had been confined in the school since we were two. What difference would two weeks make after sixteen years? "We've earned the distinction."

"Next you'll ask to stop for a black uniform on the way out," Max said.

We probably earned that too, but I knew how to pick my battles.

Cat's hand pressed my shoulder. "David, we'll be late."

"Tell him that."

"You're only making him more stubborn, Max," she said. "You know we have no reason to run away."

The instructor hesitated. Would he make us miss our appointment with the council? He knew Cat and I could not navigate the maze of buildings to get to the gates--even disregarding the risk of being detained as soon as we left the governance complex. Our gray uniforms would give us away as soon as we stepped outside because students were not allowed to leave their home departments. How long would it take to convince every instructor in our path that we had an appointment with the council? We had one, not fourteen daylight hours to reach the government building.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Who's on first?

I have spent the last two months rewriting THE LEGACY OF THE EYE in first person point-of-view. It was a lot of work, but I think I have a better novel now.

The change that struck me the most was character voice. It has much more strength in first person. No mater how much I tried, in third person it always sounded like I was telling the story. My brother even said he heard my voice in his head while he read the manuscript. In first person, I could see the sentences that did not sound right for a specific character. Not only thoughts, but descriptions, too. People see the world differently and will describe things with more or less detail given the importance they project onto the thing. Their word choices are also individual, even if they have the same upbringing.

One thing that stalled my rewrite was the fact that I needed to lose three point-of-view characters. In third person, the chapters alternated between five different characters, but in first person I had to restrict myself to the two protagonists. One of the characters I lost only had a single chapter and one beta reader already had suggested I rewrite that chapter in my main character's perspective. This rewrite forced me to do just that, and to realize I was scared to feel the scene.

To lose one of the other characters, I needed to write three new scenes and expand the role of a different secondary character to get some of the missing plot detail across. These new scenes enriched the novel and made the plot move forward with action instead of internal thought, which is a good thing.

However, the last character who lost his voice is the one I miss the most. And I worry he will be misunderstood if the reader does not know his motivation. I am waiting for feedback from beta readers to assess whether I weakened him too much. But this is not his story and I need to remember that. Sorry, darling.