Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Revisiting the World of Ilium

It's been four months since I finished a polished fourth draft of 151 and began my hunt for an agent. Since then, I had decided to distance myself from the project for a while, developing and writing the first draft of PERIAPSIS and taking some much-needed time off as well. But this month, after gathering an enormous amount of feedback from both contests and fellow writers, I'm ready to revisit the world of Ilium once again—with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

This month, my goal is to rebuild, revise, and strengthen the manuscript of 151, with the aim of taking material that's pretty good and making it into something spectacular. My time away from Ilium has given me plenty of insight into how I can do this:

  • The power of both first-person and present-tense: after writing PERIAPSIS in this style, I realized how powerful and intense it can be. It draws you into the main character's world immediately and takes you with them on their journey, never letting you go. Plus, with present-tense, you feel like everything's happening as you're reading it, which adds to the intensity. Although 151 will not be converted to a first-person perspective, I'm going to experiment with third-person/present tense.
  • A strong, engaging voice: writing PERIAPSIS also helped me to gain more experience creating and writing in a unique, engaging voice, and the greater challenge of maintaining it throughout a 90,000+ word novel. Feedback from agents, writers, and readers has always emphasized voice as well—it's the one thing that can truly draw you in and immerse you in a world. I want to go through 151 and inject every line with a consistent, compelling voice.
  • Linear, journey-like story structure: as a self-proclaimed sci-fi geek, I'm a huge fan of non-linear storytelling, with flash forwards, flash backs, and weaving narratives all counting as some of my favourite elements of storytelling. That said, I've learned very quickly that they are much more compelling to the author than they are to the reader, distracting you from the story proper and resulting in confusion rather than engagement. I've decided to strip away the cryptic, non-linear elements of 151 and simplify the journey that readers will take.
  • Start with the main characters and never let go: following up on the point above, I've made the heart-wrenching decision to cut my carefully-crafted prologue and get to the main character from the get go. No more cryptic conflicts or scenes of prophecy, I now want to start right in the middle of the present action.
It sounds complicated, and I know it will be. But, believe or not, I am truly excited to revisit the world of Ilium, to get to know these characters once more, and to bring their story to life in new and exciting ways. Wish me luck!