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Gameday Editing

Okay, I know my recent posts have been a little sports heavy, but I found another cool parallel between athletes and writers. Friday night, I watched my team’s Thursday game on NFL Game Rewind, and was very disappointed with how many drops  our wide receivers had. One in particular was into the end zone, and would have resulted in a tie game. This receiver, Greg Little, led the league last year and so far this year in drops. I’m fascinated by how he continues to drop easy passes, letting the ball pass right through his fingers. I’ve seen him catch some difficult passes, but when the routine ones come, he spaces out.

What Greg had to say in his post-game interview struck me with a new kind of inspiration and perspective on my newest round of edits. He said, “That would have been a great play that people would always remember… ” and something along the lines of “when it’s gameday, you’ve got to execute.”

I thought about all the practice Greg goes through during the week, putting in the extra effort after practice, and how that correlates with the hard work I’ve put in with rough drafts, consulting editors, and completing short stories. Even though the short stories are complete, they are really just a kind of practice for the “big game” of my novel.  My goal isn’t to be a short story writer; my goal is to write full time, and short story sales aren’t going to accomplish that.

So, I “took the field” Saturday with a somewhat overwhelming task, and performed as though it were game day and the work I did would be remembered and seen by the public. This should be my last major editing pass, so it’s likely that what I’m doing right now will be what you read and what is displayed for the world to see. No more practice. No more safety net in summarial writing. The draft is already done, so now I have to make it shine.

Two of the challenges that make this stage somewhat overwhelming are: one, that my editor pointed out that I tend to summarize important parts of the story; and two, the science I’m using has to stand up to scrutiny and provide a firm foundation for the rest of the series.

The first challenge is more muscle building, as I try and assimilate the Motivation-Response-Unit style into my own. This is foreign because I tend to write fast paced, and am not as interested in inner monologue or much description, which I feel bogs down the pace. I see why it’s important to include these—a play by play doesn’t put the reader in the head of the character to experience the story instead of hear about the story—but it’s still a bit of a breaking-to-build process.

Along with assimilating this new style, I’m also forcing myself to not settle for anything. This is both exciting and grueling. I took a break from this novel for a few days to polish a short story, and the way it boosted my confidence excites me for how doing the same with a novel will really inspire exceptional effort to finish strong.

The science related challenge is daunting because I’m not educated in computers, biology, war, astronomy, etc. So, I’m reading what I can. Nexus by Ramez Naam for transhuman technologies like neural network telepathy/human machine interface; the Subterrene War trilogy by T.C. McCarthy for more genetic advancement and what it’s like on the front line. I’m not writing hard SF, but I still need to get enough right to make it real.

So, that’s where I am in my novel journey. I’m proud about my accomplishment Saturday, and know to just keep it up. Rewriting the beginning few chapters has been tough, but I’m making progress.

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a Hugo nominated producer for Adventures in SciFi Publishing, who has been lost, broke and surfed with sharks on the other side of the world. He now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer he released two novels: his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant; and Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss.

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