Based on reader comments and suggestions, Serpent’s Smile is being re-written.
- Few people liked the main character. He second guesses himself into inaction, overestimates his abilities, and when he does take action, it’s almost always some dumb idea.
- Megyn never really does anything either. She’s got her own “I can’t deal with this” issues that paralyze her. The story ends up with two characters being pushed around by world events instead of their taking the initiative to make things happen.
The first draft, I now see, was a learning experience. If it could be done wrong, I did it. Much of the learning came during the editing phase when I had to throw out gobs and gobs of words, huge chunks that were never to be resurrected, and then completely rewrite huge sections of what was left. Among many things, I’ve learned it’s much better to write it right in the first place rather than later trying to make it right during the edit.
Here’s a glimpse of the major changes.
- Spence will take the initiative a lot more, but only after his panic at being chased by the machete-wielding murderer in the first scene. (Spence is somewhat like the main characters in some of Alfred Hitchcock’s works: he’s a plain, everyday sort of guy who becomes caught up in nefarious plans.)
- Megyn still looks, smells, and feels really nice, but there’s going to be a lot more to her in the next version. Without spoiling it, I’ll just say she’s gonna be a major contributor to what happens and, like real people, there’s a lot hidden below her surface demeanor that comes out over the course of the story.
- Sartaq will back off a notch or two on the intelligence scale. He will still be a bad man, a very bad man, but he’s no longer the sole representative from the dark side. His involvement with the other characters will also be much more complicated than in the first draft.
The overall action is roughly the same. There’s a murder on a mountaintop, an explosion on a college campus, and a major terrorist attack. Some of the reasons behind those events are different, and the characters respond in different ways, but the main events and locations are unchanged.
In practical terms, here’s what’s happening.
- I’ve finished re-writing the character backgrounds. The three main characters have the same general backgrounds but, along the paths of their lives, they’ve made some choices that set them up to react to events in very different ways.
- I’m now in the midst of plotting. I’m writing out the action of what has to happen when and where, but without any of the dialog or scenery. The finished plot will be a dozen or so pages of single-spaced text. Each paragraph therein will become a scene in the rewrite.
- I’ll continue to use two points of view, Spence’s for some scenes, Sartaq’s for others.
- I’m hopeful to begin the actual rewrite for NaNoWriMo. That’s an annual “write a novel in the month of November” event that many writers use as their daily motivation.
- Editing will consume the month of December and, hopefully, by the beginning of next year, I’ll be looking for test readers.
- Based on their inputs, there’ll be some revision.
- And then [Gasp!], it’ll be time to test the publication waters. I’d like to see the book published “old school” in book stores with signings, advertising and all the hoopla. That process can take as much as a year, sometimes more.
That’s the plan. I know the steps, have the tools and, hopefully, I now have the skill to execute a far more interesting novel. (The new Megyn is snarking at my bravado from the back of my mind. Shut up, bitch!)