Right, so I keep mentioning this rewrite I’m doing without actually talking about it. I don’t know how interesting it will be for you like readers to follow my slightly neurotic, whiny, crazy writer brain, process… thingy. But this is a blog about writing, and even if, as I said in THIS POST (I know it doesn’t show up as a link, but there is one) it’s hard for me to feel comfortable writing about writing, I’m going to try to do it anyway.
So, what am I working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m trying to write a decent first draft. This has proven very time to consume for several reasons:
1. Changing the tense: I decided to alter the story from Present to Past tense. I can’t give a good explanation why other than that it “feels” better. I’m not a huge fan of Present tense narrations so I can’t say why I used in the first place, I get kind of a “sports commentator vibe” from it. Like the narrating isn’t actually telling a story but commenting on it, if that makes any sense.
The choice feels right creatively, but it’s also extremely time-consuming and mind-numbingly boring. Imagine going through over 70.000 words and changing ever has to have, every does to did, etc… it’s so boring I sometimes feel like stopping and starting over with a new story. It also means I have to re-work a lot of the text to fit the new style of narration.
2. Creating new, original characters: Rewriting a story from fan fiction to an original one means that I need new characters. It also means I don’t have the benefit of working with “known” faces that people already have a connection too. Creating the characters themselves wasn’t hard, many of them didn’t need very much rewriting to work as original characters besides their appearance, others did. I knew what they looked like, but I needed to find a way to describe it, to find the “style.” Usually, I do this by creating google drive folders for each character that I then fill with images that I feel represent the character.
For example, I have a character named Kash, what I knew about him before I began “building him” was that he had wild red hair, a freckled face, kind of an “Irish” look. He had a playful but stable personality with more depth and emotional baggage than you might think and he needed enough charisma to be a central figure in the place the story takes place. I also knew I wanted him to be a little rugged but still have a unique look.
These are some of the images from the folder I made for him. I know a lot of people build their characters through using pre-made character sheets where they write down information about them. I don’t work that way, my characters tend to evolve along with the story, and I never know their complete story before I finish the first draft. So, the folders tend to evolve along with the story and character.
Along with re-working their look I also needed to expand or completely reimagine their back story. Without the “fandom” knowledge about these characters to draw from, I had to find new ways to make them relatable and people you as readers can connect with.
This has been one of the more fun parts so far. It’s been very liberating to let go of these faces I’ve worked with almost exclusively for six years. It’s been a lovely six years, but it’s so much fun to be able to describe people and faces that are new, to describe a face that doesn’t follow a template I’ve used a number of times before. I’ve been able to give these people any look or personality I want and add some color.
3. Creating better antagonists: the thing I’ve always been least happy with is the antagonists of the story. There are two, and I’ve felt from the beginning that they both came off as very one-dimensional and flat. Also, because I originally wrote this story for a challenge, there were time constraints involved that meant their plot lines weren’t fully explored or didn’t have a fulfilling conclusion. The resolution was just mentioned in fleeting and never actually given the closure and attention it should have. So I’m working on expanding their scenes and the part of the plot they’re involved in to make them more three-dimensional so you as readers can find their actions, their motivations believable.
4. Getting rid of (most of) the sex: I can hear the cry of distressed outrage as I write this. Why would I get rid of the sex?! For the same reason as I wanted to write an original story.
A big part of the story the way I first wrote it, was the physical relationship between the two main characters. But, the way relationships and sex are depicted in fan fiction and to be fair, a significant portion of romance novels overall isn’t always very realistic, at least not to me. There is often a power dynamic in the relationship where one character, usually the man or in the case of M/M “the big one” is very dominant, my fan fiction is no exception from this.
This dynamic works in the context of fan fiction, because it often makes no pretense of being “real” those of us who read it read it all know it’s fantasy and wish fulfillment. Outside of fandom that dynamic becomes something else, for me, personally, I don’t think that power dynamic is appropriate in trying to describe a healthy relationship in a realistic way.
In real life, there is nothing hot about the person you live with grabbing you and pushing you up against a wall, that’s abuse. As a fantasy it’s fine, what we fantasize about and what we actually want are often not the same. But, in the real world, someone kissing you even though you’ve said no repeatedly is not romantic, it’s sexual assault. So for that reason, even though this particular story didn’t include scenes like the ones I’ve described above, I feel that the way their physical relationship was described doesn’t work within the context of this rewrite. Some of it does, but not all of it and to figure out how to explain it I have to start over.
I think the way the personalities of the two main characters work and interact with each other is fascinating, and I don’t believe that it’s the sex that makes it realistic or emotionally relatable. I want to challenge myself and see if I can keep the same interesting dynamic between them without depending on graphic sex.
Can I make you as readers form an intense emotional bond with them without undressing them (too much)?
5. Rearranging the timeline: Some of the necessary changes I’ve had to make to patch all the plot holes or deepen the characters has meant I’ve had to re-arrange the timeline for some of the characters. It’s not all that complicated, and it hasn’t forced me to re-write that much, but it does take a lot of time to go over the text to make sure the timeline isn’t all over the place.
So that’s where I am at the moment. I have about 19.000 words left to edit, and I’m predicting that it’s going to take at least another 10.000 words of new writing to give the story the depth I want it to have. The story started out at a little over 70.000 words, I estimate that I’ve deleted around 10-15.000 words (mostly sex) giving me a word count of around 55-60.000, but with the new writing I’ve done, I’m up to over 85.000 words. I’m aiming for the full story to be no more than 100.000 words but I’m not actually thinking about words count now, that’s something that’ll be more relevant as I work on the second and third draft.
I’m hoping to have a complete first draft finished by the end of August maybe September. With it being summer here in Sweden my social obligations are more demanding than they usually are, so I’m not sure I’ll have as much time to write as I’m used to.
Well, that’s the update, and I’ve officially written about writing.
I think a big part of me finding it so hard to write about this, is that I’m so afraid to insult or hurt the feelings of those of you who loved this story in its fan fiction version or fan fiction overall. I don’t want it to appear that I didn’t enjoy writing this story the first time, because I did, very much. Or that the feedback I got for it wasn’t meaningful to me because it was, it meant so much, and without it, I would not be doing this.
So, I guess what I want I want to say to all of you is that, if you loved this story the way it was, me re-writing it doesn’t invalidate how you feel about it, it doesn’t mean I don’t love that you loved that version. It just means that in my head it’s something more and I’m not done with exploring these people.
Until next time.
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