The Starchild Series began life somewhere in The Sims 2 as I created worlds and neighborhoods. It was a pressure free environment where my mind could simply tell a story for the joy of telling a story. Then I got serious and actually wrote it all down during two years of NaNoWriMo and the times between Novemebers. It took on a new life and was an entire world with its own magic system. And then life happened but the story remained in my mind and I often scratched out notes to add and worked on revisions from time to time. But the truth was, I was very engaged with my new life and so the series was more or less shelved.
The first thing I tried to do with the series when my work situation changed was to just jump in and begin on revisions. I thought, “I’ve got this! This is my story and I know exactly how everything is supposed to go, all I need to do is clean it up and it’ll be ready to go.” And if you’re laughing then you’ve worked on editing fiction before.
I’m not a cocky or overly confident writer. When I was fifteen I wrote an entire fan fiction set in the world of Law and Order. It was and is terrible but it was good practice. At sixteen I wrote what I thought was a series but wouldn’t fill a novel. There were many fairly teenaged efforts at stories that were conceptually flawed, unreadable but were excellent practice. The Starchild Series has some really stellar parts (no pun intended), a story I’m passionate about and characters I absolutely adore. I have killed quite a few darlings and in reality I’ve been editing the story since it was conceived. However, it also has a lot of problems.
After not working on it on a daily basis I discovered that I could not simply begin revising. It wasn’t that I had forgotten the story but rather that I remembered the essence of the story but had forgotten minor details and interesting asides that had helped me reach my word counts during my NaNoWriMo challenges.
In my teens I would plan out my highly involved worlds, spend enormous amounts of time writing character bios and try to plan out every detail until, inevitably, I lost track of the actual story I was trying to tell. The truth is, I still prefer the act of creating a world and living in it to creating a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end. To any other writers who also write stories that can only be appreciated by a niche audience–keep pursuing those passions, keep telling stories your way but know that it will be challenging as you try to approach your revision process.
The things I learned as I began attempting revision are these:
- Re-reading the story and my notes was both encouraging and discouraging. I was a bit in awe of how much better and more coherent sections of the story were than I had expected. There were parts that made me bawl because I’d forgotten the precise flow of the story and little details were fresh and new as a result. But there were also sections that didn’t flow and side characters who had become strangers to me.
- Sitting down and editing became challenging because I had become a different person through my experiences over the past five years such that my motivation for writing the series had shifted. I was still attached but my attachment was different and I had to sort out what the story means to me now.
- Returning to the story and still being entirely in love with and passionate about it was a challenge in and of itself. I couldn’t just dispassionately edit but I was struggling to sort out the excitement and desire to work on it with the fear of messing it up because my perspective shifted so much.
Next week I’ll discuss the strategy that I adopted once I accepted that editing would not be a straightforward process.