The Finer Points of Re-writing

When you a significant change to a story, even something as seemingly innocuous as the back story, it is important to think about the knock on effects for the wider story. As I have said before, my novel is a medieval world in the future – a situation that has come about because of the philosophy of an anti-technology Christian church the grew up in the shadow of a devastating nuclear war between Uncle Sam the the Russian Bear. Continue reading

How Important is a Back Story, Really?

My novel – which I am currently editing – has gone through so many changes. It is about a medieval society in our future, one where technology has been demonised and outlawed, declared “heresy” by a new church. I began it eleven years ago very much with 9/11 in mind. I predicted as a reaction against militant Islam, that Christians would become far more strident and demanding. Initially, it was to be resurgent Catholic church, seizing power after a nuclear war some time in the early 21st century.

I soon abandoned this idea of a militant Catholicism and invent a new church. I could invent a whole new Testament and a figurehead around whom it would be written without concerns about criticisms from modern Catholics saying “doctrine would never be changed to say that.” Continue reading

Murdering your Darlings

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings” – Stephen King: On Writing

No I don’t mean that parents should kill unruly children despite what the Bible says. The term refers to having a ruthless approach to editing your fiction. No matter how much you cherish a passage, a section or an entire chapter, you must be prepared to let it go. Figuratively, not literally, I have taken a hacksaw to my novel this weekend and I am going to give it the most thorough edit it has ever had. Nothing will be safe: no chapter, no event and no character will be immune from the chop this time around. Continue reading

Is Passive Voice something you use Too Much?

Passive voice is something that needs to be discussed. In general terms for the reader, it is something that is not liked. As a writer, we find too often that we are doing this and sometimes it is something that is not seen. Yet, when we read it through we discover that it doesn’t really work. When there is too much of it we can find that it will be a little bit annoying. It starts to be irritating to read and could be a distraction from the story. Continue reading

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing finished editing

Another straightforward edit here. I mentioned last week that the story is 90% dialogue so the changes I made were superficial.

Mainly, I clarified a few things on the point of view of the Minister, researching Anglican doctrines to ensure that his view was consistent with Anglican beliefs on the view of Satan. As this story is set in Texas, I did a quick internet search just to make sure that there are CofE churches in that state. Continue reading

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing – beginning the edit

Feeling inspired after last week’s successful and rather pleasurable edit of Tartarus, I plough ever onward. This is the other horror short story going into my ebook volume. It is over 8000 words, yet not the longest short story that will go into the collection (that honour is held by The Weight of Reason which you can still read for free on Red Room here). It is also presently 100 words shorter than A New Age Exodus.

It is a different affair from anything else I have done, told entirely in the first person as a tale recounted by a prisoner on Death Row in Texas to an Anglican Minister whom he has summoned specifically the day before his execution. The Minister is confused; he has never met the man before and does not understand why he was specifically asked for by name. But during the course of the story of his life, the reasons become clear. Continue reading

Tartarus finished editing

Whereas Dawn was an absolute nightmare to edit, this one was an absolute joy and I feel I really found my stride here. It has taken three weeks-ish but in that time it has gone through not one but two edits.

The first was typically for flow, language, grammar, frags etc – and there were plenty of changes on that front to keep me occupied – but after I decided to give it a second edit for atmosphere. I seem to have developed a real taste for writing horror during this exercise. I have put a lot more thought into editing the more macabre prose that will go into this ebook volume. This is quite by accident but I’ve been pleased with the results. Is it more terrifying? You’ll have to see when the volume is released. Continue reading

Next story started – Tartarus

So the ongoing saga of my intended ebook anthology limps forward once again as I begin editing the next story. As one of the more “recent” stories (recent in that it is one of the last stories I wrote before starting university), it is one I should be relatively happy with. On the read through there were no glaring mistakes so that is a bonus straight away.

For those that may have read it before I removed it from Elfwood, let me remind you that it is a horror story of a group of hikers walking on an alien planet who discover a supercomputer. Inside there are devices inside which they can see holographic images of strange creatures. They can’t tell if they are cameras watching from afar or something else entirely… Continue reading

“Dawn” finished editing

After a week of taking a break from practically everything writing related, I sat back down this afternoon to work on the story that had given me so much hassle. As I said in an earlier post, Dawn is the oldest short story that will go into the anthology and boy did it show.

I was deeply unhappy with this story upon a read through a couple of weeks ago. It had all of the worst rookie mistakes and in that week it had at least two edits but I was still not happy. Over the last couple of days I have mercilessly hacked out a massive 500 words cutting it from 2700 to 2200 words. Continue reading