Producing that finished first draft is a real effort. It’s an ugly baby for sure and it comes with some gut tightening over the next step- the edits. As part of the process, I found and hired a developmental editor and had her go over all the content and point out flaws and errors.
Once you have the baby back all marked up, It falls to you to start doing cosmetic surgery on this child. You need to get it through school and into manuscript adulthood. So you are now Mother, Father and plastic surgeon to this kid. You just hope you don’t raise a monster as it is pretty much all on you.
CHAPTER ONE Thoughts: So, what could be better in this area?
The first line is still soild. The hook is in for the Sherrif’s cruiser to whip around and start following our teenage, foster kid, runaway, car thief who is drinking. I revisit that first line a lot but don’t want to tinker too much until I see a way to trim it and still deliver all the same emotions.
The main character. Butch is impetuous and conficted by the loss of his parents and his treatment in his foster program. He’s a scrapper but not a good one. He’s skinny and angry and is very used to having his ass handed to him, but he does not back down. The deathwish on him should be obvious but not over the top. I have employed some dialogue tics for him in this round, that I had not had occurr to me in the original draft. But now having taken the whole ride with Butch I have a little better view of who he is deep down and where his personal arc needs to begin in relation to where it ends up. Deep down he’s a good kid who is rudderless and feels like he belongs nowhere.
Setting and Sensory input. The opening scene location is a highway outside of Savannah, GA in August. It’s sultry. It’s that sweat perpetually running into your ass crack with the mildest exertion level of hot. The second scene is a honky tonk bar with a gravel parking lot that fronts for a camp fire/fire pit that marks the ley line nodes. Still sweaty, but with a vague feeling of otherness as they are adjacent to arteries of eldrich power.
How did I overlook that? So why is this happening? So it’s ball soaking humid out and Butch is wearing a grey hoodie. He also left the house intending to break the law, so that is plausible if suspicious. Bohannon comes out to his truck wearing a flannel… in Savannah… in August. So as much as the flannel is a part of his rugged loner vibe I need to make a different choice. Chamberlain is originally described as wearing a jean jacket as my vision of him was a Jerry Reid type from Smokey and the Bandit. The compromise here is putting him in a denim shirt as opposed to wearing a jacket. Maisie makes sense as she’s in a halter top and cut offs, but the others being described to the contrary makes her seem more like cheesecake. So that needs a balance everybody is sticky or nobody is.
What gets added this time around? The mentor character needs to come off as more maternal from the outset. If we don’t end up loving Daiyu then the whole story loses gravitas towards the end. So she needs to be made more physical, and affectionate right out of the gate. Chamberlin, later in the book was revealed as a dowser as the subplot became clearer to me. So, in addition to his wardrobe adjustment I also gave him “business” (as we called it on the stage) with his copper, plumb-bob, pendulum. Bohannon lost a couple pages of exposition trying to talk Butch into going to the threshold but leaning more into his “Give no fucks” attitude I cut him off at a more bare explanation and left him satisfied with his due diligence. Here’s the water, horse – drink it or don’t.
Also a concept that is critical to the ending had eluded me for a proper place to drop the info through the first draft and it became very organic to mention the concept in an almost throwaway manner. Now when the big reveal happens at the 80% mark it’s a direct callback to the first chapter.
I had a rich vision of Maisie from the outset but in first draft it took me a bit to see how that would affect behavior. A lot of these chatacters are haunted by their pasts in one way or another but Maisie is stragiht up haunted but while in the first draft this sort of got revealed whole cloth in chapter six or so. Now I get to pepper in foreshadowing through the early chapters and brush it so its blended in as a nice setup.
Does this resemble what anyone else is doing?