As promised, here is the list of proposed changes to the manuscript that will hopefully fix some/most of my problems. Some of these are easy enough to implement, and will be in the sample chapter that I'm working on. Others will require some more time and work. I'll keep you updated as much as I can, though some things must—of course—remain secret for plot reasons. As with last time, these are transcripts of my handwritten notes and they may be a little fractured and repetitive.
- Move Dow up to the Dawes colony and remove Marisol from the picture, but try to keep him as a little bit of a social outsider. Remove external support structure and establish an internal one. He needs a sense of history with the colony and its status quo—a kind of possessiveness that allows him to have a personal stake in the plot. Put together a list of which characters he already know and how.
- Up the hardboiled nature of the narration. Dow in 1st person = stronger voice. You partially cut the first person narration in Draft 0.1 because the British military voice was unnatural. He's neither of those things anymore. Keep his basic, standing background, but is he still with the UN? This is detective fiction, so try him as a kind of stealth PI...operating at the colony under a different pretense. "It says Conflict Mediation & Catch-All Services on my door, not Murder Investigations. That's a UNPol thing, Bessette. That's your thing." "You're right, Dow, but I also know that nobody ever comes to you for your mediation skills. You can do this and let me keep looking the other way on your snooping, or I can pull your license and ship you back to Earth."
- Cut Seb & Sydney chapters. KEEP IT TIGHT. Syd still exists, and Seb might in some form, but I need to avoid all of the padding, overlap, and other problems that come with using them as viewpoint characters. There has to be more focus.
- If you want to keep any of the stuff that happens on Earth, you had better find a way to move it to Dawes. Want Kinneman there as a foil? Better put him on a shuttle. Luna is the Los Angeles County to Dow's Philip Marlowe. It's a character. Don't leave until you absolutely HAVE TO.
- Consider pairing Dow with Mobese Sero. Dow and Sydney work well together, but Syd has too much other stuff to do; she can't be out running around on a murder investigation all of the time. Sero is Syd's best detective, but he's an inexperienced, Puritanical ass. She can't well pull him from "his" case, but she can pair him with an outsider who knows what he's doing. Put the Puritan with the Devil and set them loose together.
- Do what you can to keep dialogue snappy and scenes short. No more twenty page interview scenes, please. Working to adhere more fully to the hardboiled tradition should help with this.
- Re-read The Simple Art of Murder.
- A new outline should be your next focus Don't try to be a smart-ass and experiment with form and structure. It never works out well, and you sound pretentions when you talk about it. You're writing an adventure story, not a piece of literary masturbation.
- Get back to work and STOP SCREWING THIS UP ALREADY, DUMMY!
There you have it. A sure-fire formula for starting this book over again. It probably isn't perfect, but it's what I have right now. Despite myself, I'm pretty excited to dig into this. It feels more like a book that I would write and less like one that I'm making myself write, you know what I mean?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a novel to write.