Back in July, I was able to bang out the first draft of Cut-Up Girl/Accidental Gods in just four days. The second draft... is taking a bit longer. I started the rewrite several weeks ago, but have really been struggling with it due to a flaw in my initial structure. Cut-Up Girl's life story is told in four major parts, her childhood when she first learns she has superpowers, her early adulthood as part of a vigilante gang of superheroes, her years as a scandal plagued celebrity, and finally her years of decline ending in a final battle of redemption.
I wrote the first draft sequentially, but planned to thread all four stories together and tell them simultaneously. Mostly, this is because I admire a lot of works with this sort of interwoven timelines, but also because I had really uneven quantities of action sequences. The second part of the novel, her vigilante years, is filled with lots of big superhero battles as well as a sordid sexual relationship. But, her childhood had exactly one action sequence, and a lot of scenes detailing important events in her life that shaped her personality, but that weren't exactly gripping action sequences. Stuff like a crush on a boy at school, and the story of how she meets her one friend who stays faithful to her through the rest of the book. Important, but not exactly action packed.
But, the interweaving approach wasn't working for me. It felt too disjointed, more an instrument of confusion than clarity, and I worried that my underlying motives for attempting it weren't good ones. I was trying to hide the dull parts of the character's life among more interesting ones, with the effect of making it all dull.
Cutting out her childhood years was an option, but not an attractive one, since some of the stuff, like her relationship with her father, is really important for the later plot.
Finally, though, I've figure out a better approach to her childhood years... don't make them dull. Duh. There were plenty of interesting things happening in this part of the story. There's a freaking alien invasion, for god's sake. Also, a city gets obliterated by an asteroid. And she's kidnapped by a secret government organization! And somehow, I was making all this dull, mostly by having the big stuff happen at a distance. I really couldn't place her at ground zero for the asteroid strike and have the book continue, right? Luckily, I've figured out how to change her from an removed reporter of these major events into an engaged participant. Now, I can simply tell the story sequentially and keep the reader engaged all the way through.
So, I'll call this draft 2.5. Since my revelation of how to tell the story right occurred on November 2, I'll call this my NaNoWriMo novel. Forward!
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I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!