Tuesday, 6 May 2014

An Old Story Revisited

For most of the last week or so, asides from working on projects for clients (which have incidentally suddenly piled on to the point where I’m wondering what the heck is going on), I have been editing a little story I wrote when I was about 16/17. It’s your typical young adult, angst filled romance and at the time I thought it was awesome! I even tried to turn it into a comic for a while but something just didn’t feel right, it didn’t hold my attention. 
Now though I’m just looking at it and I’m just thinking


Apparently I really hated using any form of dialogue tags. I’m serious. My dialogue reads something a little like this (and yes, this is an actual excerpt)
“You know behind the glasses he’s really quite cute, I’d date him if it weren’t for the weird clothes,”
“Seriously? He’s a nice person, you’d get on with him, at least I think you might. You’d be able to do a makeover on him, I’m sure he’d agree. We could do it together on Saturday or something,”
“You know I might ask him to the Ball, I’m sure he hasn’t got a date yet. I might talk to him next week. I still need to find some money for my dress,”
Do you see what I mean? There are in fact two people speaking there, not one and they zip between topics like nobody’s business. I know that I usually try to write dialogue realistically, or at least as realistically as I can get without including a bunch of umm-ing and ahh-ing, but this is just taking the mickey. And yes, I had clearly forgotten that there was a reason that the full stop exists.

The dialogue isn’t the worst of it though. The story zips along, things happen so quickly that it’s hard to keep track, characters appear and disappear with no explanation other than that it is convenient. It is the worst kind of wish fulfilment there is. I am in fact ashamed to say that I did indeed imagine myself as the main character when I wrote it. I just wrote the kind of story that I wished was happening to me. There’s two cute guys, a tonne of friends, a hockey tournament in which there’s only one match... I could go on and on.

When I first started rereading this story I almost decided to throw it away. But then I realised that I couldn’t. This was the first story I ever finished, the first story I thought that maybe I could publish in fact. Now I realise that it’s a foolish idea, at least with the way it is at the moment. Every single page has markings on it. And I did those with a big red sharpie. And I’m not joking either. I mean, EVERY.

See all the pages!!
I’ve made pages and pages of notes for changes that I need to make. There are entire scenes that span a single page that I need to expand. I need to create proper timelines and flesh out my characters some more. Heck I need to put in the sub-plots. Here’s an interesting thing though. There are sub-plots there already, some potentially very good ones. But I was too young and inexperienced to really know what they were there for, all I remember is that it felt right to include them. I just didn’t do anything with them.

So that’s my new project for now. I’m putting aside the Feral Diaries, the Geniania novels, the other smaller projects and I’m going to focus on this. I’m going to rewrite that story I wrote 8 years ago (yes, that’s a clue to how old I am, virtual cookies for anyone who guesses right in the comments) and try to make it shine. After all, if I can make this pile of rubbish shine then there is a lot of hope for other works that I’ve struggled with.

Oh and yes, that column on writing and publishing a novel from start to finish is still going ahead. Keep an eye on the Autharium blog next Tuesday to see my very first post.

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