"Morning Glory": Progress Report

Yesterday’s post for NaCreSoMo got me back in the mood to work on Morning Glory, the mystery I wrote for NaNoWriMo last November. It’s already past 10:00 at this point, so I’m just going to write a few quick notes on what’s been going on here.

Unlike some of my past times doing NaNoWriMo, I wrote this story mostly linearly, partly to avoid contradicting myself and partly because while I knew the ending and basic outline of the story, I didn’t really know how I was going to get there. To avoid being completely predictable I set a rule for myself: “nobody just decides to go off alone”. It’s not like I needed the characters to be particularly genre-savvy, but they’re not stupid, either.

It turns out when nobody goes off alone, they don’t die. It really works! Next time you’re trapped in a haunted hotel/mansion/spaceship, I definitely recommend this.

Anyway, I mostly wrote the story straight through. However, there was one snarl: in chapter 4, two characters go off to do something and two stay behind, and it wasn’t until chapter 6 that I realized the story would work a lot better with the pairs reversed. Back in November, I didn’t want to kill my momentum and possibly not make it to the end of the story, so I just went on as if I had swapped them, knowing I’d fix it in the editing pass.

Unfortunately, that’s where I am now. I’ve mostly been editing straight through as well (now that I know how it all comes out), and when I hit chapter 4 (of 8) I stalled. It wasn’t just copyediting at that point; I actually had to rewrite a good two-thirds of it. And I didn’t want to, because while the overall plot needed the characters to be switched the original pairing made more sense at the time. All the little details I had about who said what and why these actions made sense just fell apart.

Today I gave up and decided that it might not hang together quite as well, and went on anyway. I may do another editing pass later, since this is effectively new first-draft text, but meanwhile it gets me unblocked and that much closer to being ready to share it with people. So now the first third of the chapter has been rewritten to send the new pair off on their mission, and the last third has the point of view swapped to match the ones who stayed behind.

I still cheated plenty. In some cases I lifted text from the first draft and changed who said the lines; in others I kept the original speakers but just adjusted the point of view. (This is important because even the narration follows the point of view: for example, the character “Emily Wilson” is called “Emily”, “Ms. Wilson”, or “Mom” depending on who’s the current focus, and everyone would interpret her expressions and reactions differently.) It certainly doesn’t feel great to just drop one character’s lines into another character’s mouth, because it implies that my characters aren’t well-differentiated, but in many cases that was the fastest way to get where I wanted without starting over from scratch. Ah, well.

The middle section of the chapter still needs to be heavily rewritten, but then I should be over the hump as far as this first-draft-revision goes. From there the effort should be light until I get to the epilogue.

That’s all for today. Not sure yet what I’ll end up posting tomorrow. Guess we’ll find out together.

Part of NaCreSoMo 2017. Join us!