Writing: A Love/Hate Story, Part II

Continuing the saga of my first published book, Night Falls on Tephalus.

Now, where was I? Right, I had written a 50,000 word trainwreck during NaNoWriMo 2011. Well, that may be a little unfair. It did have a plot, it had clear characters, including a great protagonist, and damned if the writing wasn’t really pretty phenomenal in brief bursts. But it wasn’t great.

And here is where the 7 1/2 year ordeal began.

Before I dive into it, I need to confess something. You never want to watch a movie with me because I am an insanely harsh critic, especially when it comes to logic and consistency. Nothing infuriates me more than stupid, lazy writing moments. What do I mean by that? Okay, my wife and I watched The Shape of Water, and I have no effing idea why the hell it got any critical acclaim because it was so incredibly crappy that she had to talk me into continuing to watch it. Point in case: (SPOILER ALERT) Some secretive 1950s military-industrial complex organization finds an amphibian demigod, drags it into a hidden bunker complex, tortures it because somehow it’s the fucking key to beating the Russkies to space, then everyone affiliated with it apparently thought, “Meh, no need to post guards around it at all, ever.” As a result, the mute cleaning woman has the run of the lab, dances with it, shares her sammich with it, and prepares to knock boots with it. What the ever-loving fuck is that? And don’t get me started about how she and her alcoholic, way-too-openly-gay-for-the-50s sidekick spirit the thing out of the lab. Stupid. Fucking. Plot.

shape of water
I cannot describe how much I hated this fucking movie.

If a movie or book is supposed to be stupid or pointless, then I give it a lot of leeway. For example, Dwayne Johnson’s movie Rampage, based on a video game from the 80s. I didn’t expect Shakespeare and knew it would be stupid fun and you know what? It was. But it also had no delusions about what it was or was not.

rampage
Way more fun than a movie should be.

Anyway, back to the book. I knew it had fragments of brilliance that I could build from. I wrote the female lead, rewrote her, rewrote her, seemingly a dozen times. Changed her back story, changed her motivations, changed her name, etc. Whenever I changed her, I changed the protagonist. In between all that, life happened. I’d put it down and not do any writing for months, go back to it, make a clean sweeping change, put it down, etc. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago when I dove back into it with the “Fuck it, I’m getting it done this time” mentality. I tweaked the shit out of it and gave it to someone I’d been in a writing group with. He did me the ultimate service by telling me that huge swaths of it blew, including the female lead. Out came the broom AGAIN, but this time, it was a more focused sweep. The result was a work that was now finally worthy of moving forward.

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