Editing at last

Now that I’ve read through Climbing Yggdrasil once, I’m ready to go back with my pen raised and mark the hell out of it. I have post-it flags and matching highlighters in four colors, so I’ve decided to focus on four elements for this next run.

Story
This is the big one. Does the scene or chapter advance the story? Is it consistent with what has gone before? Does a scene foreshadow something coming later? Does it make sense? Where I’m going to have the most work with this one is the opening chapters of the book. When I began the story, I excitedly babbled about it to a friend who asked me, “Why did you start it there? Shouldn’t you have begun earlier?” My original starting point is now chapter eight, so the beginning of the book came after I had already written several chapters, causing consistency errors.

Character
Do the characters show any development over time? Are they consistent? Are their actions convincing given their personalities? Do their actions reveal feelings and thoughts? I feel like the synchronizer and the captain are the only characters that show any change over time as of this moment, and that should change. I’m not saying every character should change by the end of the story, but they have to feel realistic and show realistic growth as they endure their trials. I also have two characters who are pretty much interchangeable in most situations, so I should to more to make them distinct from one another.

Show / Tell
Every writer knows (or should know) this one: show, don’t tell. I’ll be paying particular attention to adjectives and adverbs; they aren’t evil, but their use needs to be justified and occasional. I also want to focus on dialogue tags, trying to work adjectives or actions there into the dialogue so that what the character says reveals something about what’s going on.

The World
Is there enough detail? History? Religion? Does the story give the reader an accurate picture of the setting? Show and tell is very important here, too. It’s important not to bore the reader with pages of history and description, but rather show off the world as the characters explore the solar system, and let the reader infer certain things rather than smack them with statements.

I had originally wondered if each element would get its own reread, but I don’t think I can work that way. I think I’ll be doing multiple rereads and edits, each time trying to find more to correct until I have it as close to perfect as I can get it. I’ll make a snapshot of each version in Scrivener just in case, but I think I’ll do my best to refrain from restoring cut material.

It’s so strange to be making all this up as I go along, but until I try it a certain way, I have no idea if it works for me.

A queer thing about characters

As a gay reader, I find that there are disappointingly few examples of surprise gay characters in the fiction I’ve read. What I mean is that I’d love to read about a secondary character who just so happens to fancy the same sex. The story doesn’t revolve around it, but it’s there.

Naturally, I feel like I can write differently. But I want it to be as subtle and as insignificant to the plot as that character’s eye color; a detail and not a defining feature. Not a woman who is introduced as a lover of women, but one we get to know for her other quirks and charms before learning, “Oh, by the way…” Because I want readers to see the person, not the sexuality.

I feel this way about all other aspects of a person that people find sorry excuses to discriminate against: gender, race, socioeconomic background, etc. If one of my characters is disliked, let it be because he’s an asshole, or she beats children. Not because he likes men or she’s a woman.

There are a few characters in my current story who do not identify as heterosexual. It hasn’t come up in the narrative, though I’ve left subtle hints here and there. I may not end up explicitly stating it, but they’re there. As long as it’s not relevant to the plot, there’s no real reason to come out and say it.

As in anything else, I reserve the right to change my mind. It would be fun to write a coming out scene where a character makes a heartfelt declaration and those closest to him respond with, “We know, dear.” I have one in mind who would fit perfectly into such a moment.

To summarize, I want more gay folk in fiction and I’m doing my part to make that happen. These characters will be realistic, well-rounded and flawed. They will be everything a good character should be, plus fabulous.