Now What? A Plan of Action for Editing

It was sometime in my high school years that I decided I was going to be a writer. I enjoyed reading so much, the idea of coming up with my own stories and worlds to share with others was greatly appealing. In fact, it’s arguable that everyone who enjoys fiction plays around with the idea of becoming a writer and creator themselves from time to time. This decision was followed by several attempts to write a story.

I still remember those first few “books” I attempted to write. They served their purpose by providing me with practice, but recalling my first pathetic attempts at word-smithing causes me to cringe. We’ll just say some projects should die and leave it at that.

It wasn’t until college that I finally had an idea that grew into the project I’m currently working on today. The idea came from a brainstorming session with my two closest friends. The seed of this story started with the simple idea of a giant mechanical dragon. (Yes, we were nerds. But the idea sounded like a fun one.) From there came the questions of what kind of character would make such a colossus and for what purpose? What kind of world did they live in? I wanted to combine my love of both science fiction and fantasy in a way that I hadn’t seen before- a technological world with medieval structural influences. I wanted dragons and kingdoms and castles, but I also wanted aliens and spaceships. In a world like this, it seemed fitting that a character that invented a mechanical dragon would be named Mage.

And so it began.

I was majoring in English Writing, so I was able to pull from this idea for several of my school assignments. I added to my first draft in my spare time, but it was very slow going. I graduated with barely five chapters drafted.

Then came NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, I highly suggest you check it out. This project is what saved Mage from entering into the bottomless pit that I cast my other stories into. I had heard of NaNo before, but I’d always written it off as too hard, or not for me. However, shortly after getting married, I decided to give it a try. So I threw myself head long into NaNoWriMo 2016 and “failed” miserably. The general goal of those who participate is to reach 50,000 words, which is the general length of a novel, in one month. My first year I think I wrote 11,000. I was disappointed at the time, I really wanted to hit that 50k goal, but that was my first real push to actually getting words on the page.

This past year I did NaNo again, with the goal of adding 50,000 words, or just finishing the draft in general. I didn’t finish this goal by the end of November, but I did finish it in January.

So if you haven’t realized it yet, this is the first time that I have EVER finished a novel’s first draft. And I’m super excited.

But it’s a mess. It’s a big, fat, mess of a draft and I’m afraid to look at it.

All of my friends who are also writers have told me that after you finish a first draft you are supposed to let it sit for a week before editing. I think I’ve let it sit for a month. Granted that month was spent nesting, my first baby was due in the month of February, so it’s fair to say I had other things on my mind.

But as I start to look at it again, it’s hard to not see an insurmountable pile of crap that needs to be cleaned up.

However, I’ve made it this far, so I’m not going to quit now. My goal at this point is to go through at least one chapter a week. With the new baby and a job, I think this is as reasonable a goal as I can make. Hopefully I’ll be able to go faster, but I need to start somewhere and get past the scary overwhelming feeling and just write.

I hope this can inspire some of you to stick to your own writing goals, even if it’s a slow process like it is for me. Many people say that if you want to be a serious writer, you have to write every day. For some of us, that’s just not feasible. Instead, make yourself a goal that works for you and your life and hold yourself accountable. If you write, then you are a writer.

Blessings!

~JMJ~

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Aeon Legion: Labyrinth by J.P. Beaubien- Book Review

Aeon Legion coverIn his debut novel, Aeon Legion: Labyrinth, J.P. Beaubien takes his readers to the Edge of Time and beyond in this science fiction adventure. The protagonist, Terra Mason, is not particularly talented, but is fiercely determined to become a member of the Aeon Legion, the force that polices time travel. Through hard work, and the sheer force of will, Terra strives to show that the most ordinary of people can become heroes.

The main reason I picked up this book, was because the author has a very entertaining YouTube channel called “Terrible Writing Advice,” which I have enjoyed greatly. He often mentioned his book in his videos which prompted me to check it out. I was hesitant to pick it up at first because I find the element of Time Travel to be overdone in science fiction. I’m glad I did, though, because Beaubien excels in taking the expected tropes and turning them on their heads, making for a unique and interesting story.

Beaubien makes a point of working against classical archetypes, especially in his characters. For starters, Terra, the protagonist, is not the “Chosen One.” She’s not particularly talented, and those who believe in her chances of success are few and far between. Everything she manages to accomplish is done through hard work, determination, and help from others. Aside from the non-conventional protagonist, there is a Nazi who is likable and charming, a knight that is more of a con artist than he is chivalrous, and a Japanese girl who sees no point to honor. Not only did I find this role-reversal humorous and refreshing, but it also allowed the characters to grow and develop. They each grew to fit their respective tropes by the end of the story, but in their own way that felt realistic and human. By the end of the story, Terra becomes the “Chosen One” in so far as she has made the choice herself.

The world in which all these different characters come together is also unique. I was able to tell that the author enjoys world building quite a bit and he does an excellent job sharing that fun with his audience as well. There was a lot of well thought out, futuristic technology in the story, but as a reader I didn’t feel bogged down with too much psuedo-science or jargon. The technology felt adequately explained and flowed nicely int the action scenes. I rarely got lost in the explanations.

The overall plot pacing was good as well. I will say that the beginning was a little slow. It disappointed me at first; I was worried that the whole story would drag on in a similar way. Happily, the pace picked up a few chapters in and I soon found myself picking up the book every chance I got.

One critique I do have is that Beaubien is a little heavy-handed in his treatment of themes. It’s especially the themes and motifs of characters that are almost spoon-fed to the reader. I liked the use of the themes, but their presentation could have been subtler. For example, a character named Lycus Cerberus is often described as having a “wolfish grin” or “prowling.” Every time this character or his actions are described there is some allusion to a wolf. This happened so often with so many different characters that it luckily didn’t pull me out of the story too much.

Overall, I found Aeon Legion: Labyrinth to be a very enjoyable read and I’d highly recommend it to science fiction and fantasy lovers ages 13 and up*. I am looking forward to the next installment in the series and the next book by J.P. Beaubien.

 

*There is a brief scene where two minor characters state they are going to have sex before walking away. Apart from that, there is some violence in the form of character injury, torture, and death. Nothing is described very graphically at all.