Tuesday, 20 November 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 20: Parental guidance

So, this evening Dad told me he had nothing to read at the moment and wanted to know if I had anything with an ending lying around. He may have phrased it a little more kindly than that, but close enough. Then Mum commented that she'd been reading stuff on my old laptop and she remembered me saying that I had a complete version of Dark Star. I was left with nowhere to hide, so now my parents are going to read the first complete draft of a book I've been working on since 2002.

No, slightly longer. 2002 just marks the first electronic version.

Anyway, while I'm sure it's good for me to have people reading it and I know my parents are going to provide useful feedback, there is definitely fear involved. There's that urge to belittle the effort and warn them about all the crappy bits, or to tell them that there's no point reading it because I need to make big changes to two particular sections, or... well, there's a thousand excuses. There was also a handy brand-new flash drive of Dad's and like I said, nowhere to hide.

They also both spent some time talking to me about The Frozen Tear and gave me a (possibly inadvertent) butt-kicking about the number of classic fantasy-type elements I keep hanging onto with it. For example, I have a perfectly good rail network and yet I sent the characters on a long journey on horseback. I have two ideologically opposite but not necessarily evil groups who have a vested interest in the activities of the Chosen One and yet I've been raging over the fact that there's nobody trying to stop him. I know I have a lot of problems with the story, but I'm starting to feel like I can't find the solutions because I've been looking in completely the wrong direction.

Again, this is probably a good thing.

Anyway, having successfully resisted the urge to explain to my parents about all the things I should fix in Dark Star, I guess in the next couple of weeks I'll find out if they even pick up on these points. I expect criticism on at least one of them and I have no idea what they'll make of a few things my bad guy did or the fact that there's a completely pointless assassination in there somewhere. I'd like to think that they'll feel sorry for my poor tormented main characters, because I certainly do. I have a few writerly guilt issues about some of the things I've done to these characters.

Still, at least it's not as bad as giving them Toby. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to do that.


  1. Eeep!

    The thought of giving my parents ANYTHING I write makes me want to run screaming straight into the Chasm of Despair and curl up with a blanket.

    Oh, and resisting the temptation to point out all the crappy bits. I never could do that, so good for you on both points!

    Well, whatever happens, it's off your hands for the time being. The worstthat can happen is they'll tell you that they were massively confused and nothing made sense. In that case, you'll know what to fix. :-)

    Also, knowing you're looking in the wrong direction means you know one direction not to go, and you're that much closer to getting it right. Maybe those things bother you because you know something is fundamentally wrong, but you're pinning the wrong reasons on why.

    As for the horses, why ARE they using them? Is one of the enemy groups in control of the train, or are they going into the center of the country where there is no train? ...And if everyone in the country uses the train, even if the enemy is in control, wouldn't they just blend in? Maybe the use of horses is a discrepancy in your world's internal logic, so the reader picks up on that, amd that is why it's perceived that you are clinging unnecessarily to fantasy tropes. I know you said they could travel by train or boat. Why is it REALLY necessary that they travel by horses? Is it because using the train makes it too easy on your characters? If it is, maybe it's just a sign that you need to add more complexity there, in worldbuilding and conflict.

    Also, the enemies. Why is it REALLY that having the enemy groups stop them isn't working? Does it feel wrong? If so, are they the true source of conflict, or is there something else at stake?

    ...And if none of this is applicable at all, feel free to ignore. It's so much easier to spout advice about other people's novels than one's own. XD

  2. I'm curled up in a corner of the Chasm with my trusty blanket right now, figuratively chewing my fingernails and totally expecting that "I was massively confused and nothing made sense" comment.

    As for Frozen Tear, a great deal of worldbuilding is going to have to take place before I attempt a third draft. I need a map and a train timetable, for a start. That should be fun. :-|