Tag Archives: re-write

I took the plunge…

… and started my revision. After only, what, two years? I’ve decided on a couple of plot changes and I really need to tighten up my characters. But the first step is the hardest and I made it through chapter one yesterday. And even though I know I’ve gone  through that chapter a dozen times or more, there was so much expository chaff left to delete. I think it will really strengthen my main character to be ruthless about the rumination. I thought of something else to adjust while I was trying to sleep last night, so maybe I’ll work on that today.

I need to send out a one page summary and my first ten pages for my conference critique and I only have a week before the due date so I really need to get those pages dealt with. I have a new version of my synopsis from my class, but it’s a page and a half and, while I suspect it’s fine for querying, it’s too long for the critique session.

I also need a new title. And I’m totally stymied. I like my working title, but I suspect it’s too pretentious for the genre. I’m just a little uncomfortable with it, but I can’t think of anything better and I’m getting frustrated. I have awesome titles for my next two projects so why can’t I think of one for my current project?

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Baking and Character Motivation

My daughter talked me into making cookies for a playdate she had yesterday and it made me think of writing. And no, I don’t mean the obvious metaphor of how a story has ingredients and they have to be mixed in the right proportions, blah, blah, blah. It reminded me of the scene in Anne of Avonlea (I think?) where Anne tries to publish her first story.

Anne gets a rejection and then confides her very dramatic disappointment to Diana Barry. Diana asks to read the manuscript and then complains because the heroine (who is appropriately fancy and hoity-toity, just like Anne likes) bakes a cake a the end. Anne is defensive, saying that the heroine (I think her name is Cordelia?) is trying to show her domestic side. Diana, trying very hard to be a good friend and NOT a critique partner, just smiles and nods. Later Diana re-writes the cake scene and there is a very funny scene where the story wins a flour competition and Anne gets very offended that her work has been used for.. gasp!… profit.

So that made me think about this book I’m reading on developing characters and how you have to create a back story for your character so that you can figure out a natural and understandable way for the character to react to things. If they react in an incongruous way, then your reader will be taken away from the narrative. And I think the important part is that it doesn’t matter if YOU think it makes sense for the character to behave in a certain way – your READER has to think so, too. If they sense that you are just making the character do things to further your plot without being respectful of the character, itself, then the reader will stop trusting you as a writer and become less invested in the character and plot. I can think of a few places in my WiP that have this issue – I know why the characters are doing whatever it is they are doing, but I’m not sure I’ve set it up thoroughly enough to convince a reader.

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Research defeated

I’ve been putting off my re-write partially based on the research I still needed to do. I wanted to have all my research done and in hand so that as I worked through my manuscript I could deal with issues as they came up – as opposed to just going through for character or plot revisions and again for science. Well, now I’m out of excuses. I still need to write up a little treatise on how I’m going to adapt my research but the actual work part is done. Thank goodness I’ve taught biology or I would never have understood all this crap, much less been able to create with it!

I’ve learned all about viral metabolic processes, their reproduction, enveloped vs. non-enveloped, lytic cycles vs. lysogenic cycles, gene therapy, retroviruses, and viral vaccines. I’ve also researched a bunch of different virus families their respective effects. And also cryogenics. Whew.

I think the break through was me leaving the house entirely. I’ve been trying to research here and there with my babies constantly interrupting me and it’s really hard to get the sense of a complex topic when your reading time is in two minute increments. So I took my laptop to a local coffee shop with WiFi and nursed a piece of key lime pie for two hours while I read about viruses. And amazingly, around the 1 and a half hour mark, I finally started making connections between what I was reading and what I needed to create for my novel. So now I need to write up a description of my virus – how it works, how it will be treated and eventually cured, how it’s transmitted, etc – and then maybe I’ll send it to my old department head/AP Biology teacher/ Dr. of biochemistry and see if he thinks it’ll pass. Unfortunately, the school year is about to begin at my old school so I don’t know if he’ll have time to review it.

Regardless, that’s one less excuse for not getting to my re-write and I’m feeling motivated! Go me! It also reminds me how much I love science. I do kind of miss it…

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Don’t wanna…

… write a synopsis. Which is, of course, the reason I’m taking a workshop on writing synopses. So that I have to do it. By Monday night.

I wrote a synopsis when I went to the Southern California Writer’s Conference a few years ago but, when I pulled it up and re-read it, it was super boring. I mean, the story sounds interesting (I’m biased, of course), but the style is just pedantic. It’s really more of an outline than a synopsis. There’s no voice, there’s no tag-line, there’s no eye-catching hook… dull reading. It’s less interesting than some of the curriculum I’ve written.  Clearly I need to re-do it and since I need to have it for my workshop on Monday night, I’d better get to it. But I really don’t want to. I’d rather watch TV. Or surf the internet and read writing blogs. Or change diapers – no seriously. I really don’t want to write a synopsis.

And I can’t keep fro thinking about other projects. I have two more ideas for novels and I’m really excited about both of them. One is historical fiction set in 14th century England and the other is paranormal (possibly YA?). Thinking about them is way more interesting than writing a synopsis. Or re-writing my WiP. It makes me think of the following, which reminds us that new projects are, according to Ernessa T Carter, “big ol’ sluts”… (it’s the third video in the roll, I think).

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Science Re-Write

I did some “editing” to my manuscript before my writing hiatus but I need to do a major re-write before I get ready to query. I need to do the ubiquitous character and plot tightening re-write but I also need to do a science re-write. The manuscript is a science-y political suspense (a la Michael Crichton) and the basic science is (I think) pretty solid. But it’s vague at best. When Jacob read it, he complained that he wanted more details. I argued with him for a while – partially because I worry that too much science will be annoying to a non-science-y reader and partially because I just didn’t want to. But he was right…

So in the novel I have a virus that is created as a treatment for cancer, but it’s still too damaging when it’s accidentally released. A century later, the main character is trying to cure it. I was very pleased to find some research that’s currently being done on neutrallizing virulent lipid-envelope viruses (like ebola). They’ve found a compound that damages the lipid bi-layer in the envelope of the virus and, since a virus can’t repair damage by itself (it needs a host cell to do those things) it can’t attach to a healthy cell anymore. So it doesn’t kill the virus exactly, it just renders it unable to perform mischief. It also damages the healthy cells – it’s a full spectrum lipid disrupter – but a normal cell DOES have the internal mechanisms to repair the cell membrane. So the trick would be to make sure the damage to the healthy cells doesn’t happen faster than the cells can repair the damage. In other words, the compound would make you sick, but not as sick as ebola. Which is dead, after all.

The other part of this research that is interesting is that, in order to study their test virus (some super aggressive, irresistible virus called Nipah) in a reasonable setting, they stripped the envelope off the virus and stuck it onto a pretty benign virus instead. That way, they could just test on the envelope and if they could find a way to stop the virus envelope from attaching to a healthy cell then it doesn’t matter what the virus interior is doing. This kind of manipulation is the basis for another type of research that pertains to my story – cancer gene therapy.

Scientists can take a virus envelope that easily bypasses a body’s defenses and insert cancer-busting genetic material in place of (or on top of) the virus. Once the new virion invades the body, it uses the virus envelope to attach to the cells and re-write their genetic material in a way designed by scientists. Scientists are even experimenting with using the envelope from the HIV virus as a cure for HIV. How cool is that? They’re also using something similar to stop transplant rejections by putting a “trigger” in the transplant cells using a designer virion that prevents the transplant cels from creating the protein that causes the rejection. If the host starts to reject the transplant, doctors can release the trigger and stop the chemical reaction that’s causing the rejection. I mean seriously, people are so clever.

In reading, I realized that I also need to re-imagine my lab spaces. In my mind they are are way more “hgh school chem lab” than “biohazard 4”. And if that’s what they look like in my mind, I’m sure that’s how they come accross in my text. Once I finish my virus research and write out my plan for adding that info, then I need to look into BH 2-4 and re-design my labs. I also need to research cryogeneics.

If I go to the Southwest Writer’s Conference at the end of September, that can be a good deadline for my re-writing. For the Advance Submission option (where I can send some material to be reviewed by Useful People), I probably only need the first few chapters done and those are pretty strong already. So I just need to be on track to have a submit-able manuscript just in case I run into someone who wants to see it.

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