Friday, 16 October 2015

Rewriting and editing Wild Children

I sent the first draft of Wild Children to a friend who is really worth her weight in gold when it comes to reading through and offering good advice, and she helped me re-focus and re-define my goals for the novel. The truth is, I approached this project - my first major sci-fi/dystopia writing project - with a great deal of enthusiasm. But by the end of the first draft, I was burnt out. I wanted to pull all the loose threads in as quickly and efficiently as possible, and this hurt the plot arc. The end was rushed and anti-climatic, because I set my heart on a one-book project and I was unwilling to shift my perspective. I wanted to put it all together too badly to see that the allotment of 100K, or even 120K words wasn't enough for what I tried to do.

So, instead of artificially rushing the ending, I will purposefully leave some loose threads and make room for a sequel - which, I must be honest, I haven't even outlined yet and have only vague ideas about. The inspiration and ideas will depend in part on the readers' feedback when the first part of Wild Children comes out. Whether I will end up with a two-book project, a trilogy, or a longer series, remains foggy right now. So far, all I can see clearly is that the plot cannot be wrapped up in one book.

I am happy to say I am now regaining my excitement about, and satisfaction in the project. I'm opening new possibilities, adding new characters - in particularly more charismatic villains - and exploring new areas. Here is an excerpt:

"The Van Wullens were an old, numerous, prosperous clan. Obviously, they now held only a fraction of the assets they had before the War, but by the current standards they were still fabulously rich – perhaps even more so, in comparison, than before. They owned factories, offices, enterprises and, above all, land - an exceedingly precious resource, with the United States reduced to a small group of Islands within the Boundary. Most of the citizens lived in cramped little dwellings in functional apartment blocks, but the Van Wullens still owned landed property. Most of the houses were concentrated in two small Country Islands owned exclusively by the family. Silver Oaks, one of the mansions, passed by inheritance to Eleanor, and it was there that the President and the First Lady spent most of their weekends and holidays.

Tea was just being served on the shady verandah when the black car stopped at the gate. President Dahl stepped out and walked up the neat walk, gravel crunching under his feet.

His wife got up from her chair to greet him. “This is a surprise, my dear,” she said, “We weren’t expecting you until a bit later.”

As always, Eleanor Dahl looked impeccable. She was wearing a sleeveless knee-length linen beige dress, with a light white cardigan casually thrown over it. Silk stockings accentuated her shapely calves, and her feet were clad in white leather boat shoes. Mrs. Dahl was a very handsome woman.

Alexander Dahl bent to kiss her on the cheek. “Where are Stephanie and Priscilla?” he asked.

“They will be here in a moment. They are just finishing a game of tennis. Come and say hello to Glenda.”

Dahl arranged his face into a polite smile, resigning himself to his fate. He wasn’t very fond of his brother-in-law’s wife, and he suspected she knew that. Glenda Van Wullen, however, greeted him with every appearance of delight.

“Alexander!” she trilled, leaping up from her chair and planting an airy kiss on his cheek. “You look tired. I am rather surprised, I confess, that you have managed to escape the clutches of the White Tower this weekend.”

“Did you think I wouldn’t come?” Dahl said. Glenda laughed, showing perfectly bleached white teeth. She looked as fashionable as her sister-in-law Eleanor, but it was a different kind of elegance. She was dressed in a blue pantsuit which was just perfect for showing off her tall, lean figure. Her hair, light brown with a tinge of red and some reddish highlights, just touched her shoulders. She sat back in her chair, took out a slender cigarette and lit it. A wisp of menthol-scented smoke rose up in the air, and Dahl wrinkled his nose as he, too, sat down in one of the white garden chairs.

“Sorry, Alexander,” Glenda said wryly, “I keep forgetting that you hate my cigarettes.”

Dahl was perfectly sure she didn’t forget. “I don’t mind,” he assured her stiffly. He was beginning to wonder whether staying back at the White Tower wouldn’t have made for a more peaceful weekend."

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