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More Show, Less Talk

September 11, 2008  Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft   7 Comments

As pointed out, my older writing was somewhat talky in need of revision.

I loves loves loves me revision. What I don’t particularly enjoy is revising a 140k manuscript. A wonderful incentive to avoid that length when possible!

Here is Prelude in C revised. I did this during my small lunch break in between sips of tea and nibbling on food too spicy for my own good. It took me (fifteen?) minutes.

Prelude in C

The Gaterunner was reading a book in his right hand while holding his sword in the ready position in his left. At any moment, a Reader could burst through the door and interrupt his reading. If it was one thing that bothered the Gaterunner, it was rudeness. Hence the sharp metal pokey thing, poised, ready to take umbrage at a disruption.

The book he was currently reading was not the one he was looking for, of course, but it did have an oh-so-faint glimmer of… not exactly magic, more like a unique proto version of the stuff. It was enough to keep him reading. Sentience was hard to come by on this world, and he would take what he could get.

He considered this world the most barbaric, over-populated, over-engineered polluted places he ever set foot on. Unless he was successful in his search for the exact book he was looking for, he would die here alone surrounded by readers who could not Read.

The Gaterunner was not particularly fond of death either-specifically, his. He had the unfortunate occurrence to experience his own death several times. It was painful, but worse, dreadfully embarrassing. “Death by Old Age with Unfulfilled Quest” ranked right up there with “Eaten by Small Fangflowers After Tripping on a Rock.”

The Gaterunner tried to avoid his thoughts from running from his task, but the looming difficulty was too oppressive. How do you find a book when surrounded by books? There where millions of books, stacked everywhere in houses and buildings, sometimes gathering dust but usually kept out of fondness for the words contained within. They even taught children to read books! They built libraries of books for common folk to borrow and read, and then return for another as if they had a reading itch they could not quite scratch. They had machines-of all things-that would spit out book after book after book like some mechanical book producing golem. Thousands of people wrote books, and many more then that produced the things. Men and Women worked their entire lives around them, and many died surrounded by pages and pages of tiny words composed of machine-generated tiny type.

The number of books was tremendously staggering. He often pictured himself alone on the shore of some sea, but instead of water crashing about his ankles, pages of books pushed back and forth at him, threatening to knock him over and drown him under paper.

He marveled at the cleverness of hiding the book here. No sane Reader would come here even if they had a Gate to spare. If they did, they would never find it. Only someone with faith in people, not books, would be able to discover its location. Only someone with faith in destiny would trust that it would fall into his hands eventually. Only a Gaterunner would find the book here.

The Gaterunner saw shadows from the crack under his door cast by the light in the hallway. He set his book down and smiled. His enemies were not used to this world. Their stupidity would be their downfall.

The door exploded, wood going everywhere.

The Gaterunner smiled. He was not enjoying that book anyway. With a mental nudge it burst into flames and hurled itself straight at the surprised, and soon to be as dead as he was rude, Reader.

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7 comments on: More Show, Less Talk

  1. Pingback: Next novel? « Anthony Pacheco: Hack Writer

  2. Maura Anderson September 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    hmm – still too much telling and not deep enough POV.

    (140K? That’s almost unsellable length, though I admire you for it.)

    In general, lots of “was” are bad. It’s a distancing word and tells the reader things happened in the past. You want to draw the reader IN and make them keep reading, keep wanting more.

    You’ll probably also want to ask yourself if the POV character would say/think what you are on their behalf. There are places you can simplify.

    I’d be looking for something more like this (you’re welcome to it or to ignore it and tell me to buzz off – I’m free with opinions and help but sometimes more than people really want):

    Eyes focused on the faded text of the book held steady in his right hand, the Gaterunner barely registed the ache of his left arm. If one of the damned Readers dared be so crass as to interrupt his reading, he’d return their uncivilized behavior with the edge of his heavy blade. He took serious umbrage to any rudeness.

  3. Anthony September 11, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Maura, thank you so much. That is actually quite helpful!

    I believe my real problem is the Gaterunner just does not fire me up anymore. As a minor character in a Prologue, he does not seem interesting to me. Why is that?

    I have no idea. Heuh. Maybe I will give him a sex change, make her cranky and call her “Mildred.”

    140k is hefty, but I am doing sci-fi. I’ve built a interesting world that works for me, but I suspect if I did some heavy thinking, I could cut a major plot line and scrunch all the way down to 120k. It may not be the exact story I wanted to tell, but it would certainly work.

    Before I do so, I want feedback from my beta readers. The Wife Unit is nearing the end of the manuscript, and so far, she has given me some great suggestions.

  4. Maura Anderson September 12, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Beta readers are a necessity 🙂

    Your other option is always to split it into two 85K by adding some more.

    hmm – if the Gaterunner doesn’t fire you up, why is he there? 🙂 Is there another way to convey what you are trying to in this prologue? Do you actually NEED whatever is in this prologue at that moment, before the reader starts the book?

    Useful questions to ask yourself. Don’t fall victim to the world-building infodump.

  5. Anthony September 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I wrote this prologue in 2006 and then stopped because I suxored at writing ability. Since then, I have written two novels, one I intent to do my best to get published. Between 2006 and 2008, something strikes me as off about the Gaterunner.

    I believe, now that I have slept on it, his motivation is off. Characters without motivation are flat. Flat characters pull a writer into telling, just like you noticed.

    Can I fix this problem? Not without changing my outline. Can I change my outline? In a heartbeat!

    RE: Splitting in two.

    That is quite impossible. Bunny Trouble’s plot radiates outward from a central point along multiple paths like a star burst. As the end of the book approaches, these paths (except one which leads to Book Two) come crashing back down to the center like a literary singularity. It’s fun, glorious and disturbing all at the same time.

    Thus, Bunny Trouble as a first novel might not be sellable due to its length (assuming, of course the other parts hold up). I have to take that chance and see what I can come up with. In the meantime, the next novel beckons.

    Perhaps I will finally admit defeat and write Coffee Shop Armageddon. People keep pinging my blog on it. Even if it’s for the wrong reasons, why throw away free buzz and motivation?

  6. Maura Anderson September 12, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Never give up, never surrender!!

  7. Anthony September 12, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Tommy Webber: Go for the mouth, the throat, his vulnerable spots!

    Jason Nesmith: It’s a rock! It doesn’t have any vulnerable spots!

    Guy Fleegman: I know! You construct a weapon. Look around, can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe?

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