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The Dilemma


Nanowrimo approaches, and we are all asking ourselves important questions. Do we outline? How much do we outline? Are we really going to commit to another project when we already have 6 rough drafts that were whipped out one right after the other?

At least for me, it's hard to quit rough drafts. They are alluring with their low standards and forgiving format. I don't have to think about what is wrong with the story or what sort of arc I'm creating.

I already have some good ideas for the next project, too. It's a serial killer and a life-or-death struggle against famine. There are scenes half-forming in the mind.

And the murder mystery I just finished, while more tightly plotted than the last few, has some questions hanging over it. It would benefit from trimming a character or two, and I'm not so sure about the run-up to the climax and the big reveals. The wording feels tired in places. It could stand a beta-reader, that's for sure.

That, I think, may be where you come in. If I go through my works and clean them up little by little, and then post them here, I can continue writing my rough drafts and edit the old stuff at the same time.

The formatting would be a problem. I have a tendency to drop chapter headings and just write one straight story. My current work is 215 pages and 80,000 words long, so that might be hard to upload. If I cut it up in pieces, it will be a job to figure out exactly which sections should be going up and when. Formatting could get screwed up.

There is also a problem of fitting a definite novel into a somewhat serial blog format. It's easy to forget what happened before in serials and that could lead to an inconsistent plot as I fail to realize the holes in my rough draft and don't fix them.

Then there is the changes in the world. The same characters have been moved to a fictional country where swathes of world information has been very lightly edited to better- well, save me from doing actual research. I'm bad. I know. It's just that anyone conveying the past has a duty to do it accurately. People assume you're telling the truth about these subjects, especially if it isn't their preferred area of expertise. Making stuff up requires some explanation. The story I want to tell involves fictional people and countries, but I have not done a great deal of work in creating the world. It is medieval Europe with some names search-and-replaced. Does it deserve to see the light of day? Just how much disguising do I have to do before everyone figures out that they can't take any of this stuff as literally true, and how confusing is it to keep so much of the real world in it?

Look, there are some things you can't make up. The Picatrix, for instance, is such a weird work, and it followed a twisting path to publication. How can I avoid adding it? And the little details about food, how the iron working process works, how clothes were made, they all make a real, vivid, lived-in-world that I simply would not think of on my own. To then copy-paste it onto a made up country is lazy, and a little ridiculous. At the same time, it is so much fun to play with. It's not really alternate history, and it's not really it's own thing. I'm just not JRR Tolkien.

At base, I'm looking for a way to create the story I want without involving pesky editors, even though make the story passable would require editing. Having my cake and eating it too, is a good way of describing it. Well, we can give it a shot for one story. I'll make the outline for the new story tomorrow and post the first section of the Wolfsburg Murder by Friday. Happy Halloween?

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