Things I have learnt through the early drafts of Termion
What not to put in a wip (and what will probalby keep your manuscript on a slush pile.)
- At the end of someone speaking, put a comma, not a full stop.
- Use 'which' instead of 'that'
- Poor comma use (putting them in the wrong place, or not putting them in at all).
- POV hopping.
- Author intrusions.
- Telling, not showing.
- Passive writing.
- Including actions which either defy the laws of physics (on any world, real or imagined) or which (or is it that???) contradict earlier/later points of the story.
- Incomplete sentences (even a single word missing counts).
- Too many secondary characters.
- See-through characters: they don't stand up on their own merits.
- Easy get out clauses for the protagonists (what? I can't conveniently place an escape route here without explanation?).
Termion really is an eye opener into how my brain works. It's bad when a beta reader says they are lost and confused. It's worse when its more than once in a single chapter.
Writing is all about learning, and I'm climbing a very steep hill right now. I think half the problem is that I wanted Termion to be a certain type of book I enjoy reading. I tried to mush characters into moulds within this style of book. And it didn't work. Only 1 out of many characters felt solid. Writing it, I didn't always understand what Jinna wanted. Or what Termions wanted. Or why Termions did/didn't do certain things. Some areas of the plot were flakey.
My beta reader points them out (with stern glares) and I cringe. I also laugh as I'm reading and say 'What was I thinking?'
So I've mentally sat down and gone through what I think are the main plotlines. I then thought through what would happen if I took them out of the story. It was sobering to realise they wouldn't take much away from it. I could leave a few in, but it would involve a lot of changes. I don't want Jinna to have too many complexes. I had some good ideas, but because I didn't keep them in every part of the novel it didn't work.
I'm having stern words with my Muse and we are having a major think of the storyline. So far current thoughts for new version:
- No marriage (I seem to have it on the brain...it plays a key role for Imperial Intrigue, which is the 3rd book in the Empire series). It could work, but because I use it in other wips, I don't want to have marriage overload.
- The Count will be mean and evil. He will be a practical man. Sadly I think I was trying to merge him with Lord Vir in II.
- It will be the rogue Termions who put more than 1 creature in Jinna. I thought long and hard and I couldn't think of a valid reason why Jinna would be so different to the others. After all, if super-Termion works once, why not have the entire army have 7 animals in them? The end result is I need Jinna as an anomoly.
- Fear of heights will stay.
Things which may happen (not yet thought them through enough to say for sure).
- Jinna may actually live her entire life as a noble.
- She may even have contact with one, if not both parents. And why not? So many times stories are written with protag not knowing/having parent(s). It would be different.
- For now, Jinna will not have an obsession with being clean. She'll like it as much as most people do, but nothing more.
I resisted the urge, especially as I read through my chapters, to include the following.
- Aliens (which don't necessarily go hand in hand with spaceships)
- Zombies (sorry, just not appropriate).
- More spaceships
My Muse did, at one point, want to chuck Termion in the bin. However, as I reminded her, the story of Jinna is important for II. I want to have how Termions go from beig a small group in one sector to beinng the Emperor's private guard. How instead of taking a child and changing them into a Termion over 10 years + Termions can, at a price, be made in less than a year, from teens.
Going back to basics and figuring out the essentials of what I want the story to convey has been essential in figuring out what to scrap. I look forward to presenting the next draft of Termion to my betas, and seeing what they think of. My beta is making me into a stronger writer.
Agent querying will happen when my wip is ready for it. It could well be a different wip becomes prepared sooner than Termion. It doesn't matter, for I'm not giving up. Never. Ever! I'm determined to flood the world with my stories. Watch out world!
Post Script: Due to lack of help from Muse with Jinna and the Count's characters, as soon as I'm done with this read through, Termion will be suspended for a while. Muse is rearing to go on Imperial Intrigue. I daren't disobey her!