Revision Notes As my previous blog suggested--these are my revision notes for my short story "Earth Borne." If you're not interested in seeing the behind-the-scenes and extra work that goes in to a story, you don't need to keep reading.
It began with a read-through, and I broke the story up by chapter. I added Post-It Notes and flagged flaws in the story as I read. I took notes about what the problem was and how to fix it. These are my post-read-through notes (I'll spare you the individual flaws). I broke down 10 Chapters into neat piles and read two and three chapters aloud each day until it was done.
December 14th, 2016
- Is this the right beginning? It is not very compelling. Kind of slow, like a small town.
- Is Ash’s gasoline huffing clear and/or relevant?
- Konrad LaCroix Sr., grandpa
- Writes letter to Meghan because he believes his own son is an asshole.
- “The Answer”? Another letter? Weird. Unconventional.
- Grandpa says Meghan can trust Dr. Ian Smith but Ian already seems corrupted—insisting the project must remain a secret from the public.
- Meghan should encounter Ian as someone she can trust and it should end poorly.
- That ‘P.S.’ note says if Meghan was already exposed, she cannot take the antidote. Only ‘The Answer.’
- So ‘The Answer’ meshes Earth Borne and human DNA to create the perfect being.
- Both doctors (Sr. and Jr.) are using family to test science on.
Meghan bites everything!
- Chapter 6, after the Earth Borne stop attacking Ash and Richard—they head straight for the hospital. Ash does not seem overly concerned about Meghan at all? He was supposed to follow right behind her.
- Does Richard handcuff him to the steering wheel? What changes Ash’s mind?
December 15th, 2016
Transformation through direct inhalation is less than 90 seconds.
Use the words “small” and “cold wind/breeze” too much.
- Give Ash and Meghan more chance to talk before Chapter 8.
- Ash is the most interesting character.
- Setting is too vague.
- Too casual an attitude about the supernatural.
- Meghan’s reaction about her eyes is not believable.
- Meghan immediately thinking “gas mask” and going to the Army Surplus Store is far too convenient.
My notes about the ending:
After Natalia dies, we assume the True Mother lives—but what good is that? What power does she have that can save Meghan? Can she return Ash to human form!?
What about Richard? Did he die?
It is also important to note here that I was pissed when I got to the ending. My own ending, and I was mad about it.
December 16th, 2016
- Natalia’s connection to Andrei
- Ian Smith’s connection to Konrad LaCroix Sr.
- Meghan’s mother: dead?
- Ash’s parents: what happened there?
Can Andrei’s men have captured Richard and brought him to the complex?
Christmas party, a chance for Meghan to encounter Dr. Ian Smith?
New name for ISIS labs.
- Ash has gasoline in his truck bed because of his huffing problem.
- Have Wally share a story about Meg’s mother with her? Or about her grandfather?
- Wally walks his grandson to the bus stop every day.
- Does Helix knock over one of the vials, or tries to? Typical cat.
- What else motivates Konrad? His love for Natalia, greed for money? World domination? What has Andrei promised him? (Does Meg’s dead mother have anything to do with any of this?)
- Did Konrad leave Meg’s mother for Natalia?
- Did Konrad experiment on anyone else?
- What exactly is the Terry Prognatus and where did it come from?
December 17th, 2016
- Why does Meghan hate Natalia?
- What if Meghan’s mother is still alive?
- Works as a waitress at Muskrat’s? That’s why Meghan works too—to help pay the bills on B street. Call it “Plan B.”
- …because her father left them for another woman, someone who worked at (formerly-ISIS Labs).
- This will change the story dynamics to really pound home the “small town” life. Divorce. Meghan gets picked up for the weekend but her dad is always working. Meghan hates Natalia because she is the reason her parents got a divorce. Really though, Meghan’s mother disagreed with Konrad’s research and work ethics. She was going to leave anyways. Konrad Sr., actually left a substantial amount of money to Meghan’s mother and Meghan.
- Is Konrad after the money?
- Meg and “that cute neighbor boy Ashley” sitting down to have dinner with Meg’s mom.
- Green beans, spam, Kool Aid, tater tots, coupons on the table, chickens in the back yard.
- Meg and Ash met when Meghan moved in next to his trailer on B Street.
- Ash’s parents are alcoholic rednecks. Slamming screen doors and broken beer bottles against walls.
- Ash spends a lot of time over at Meg’s.
- This is also why Ash is a gas huffer. Who works at a gas station.
- Ash smoke’s with Meghan’s mom!
December 20th, 2016
Do I want to keep the entire event fairly isolated? No massive outside military presence because I really know nothing about military things?
- Is there an actual waterfall in Maple Falls that it gets it’s name from?
- Word to use: Pariah.
- Correlation: Meg’s Mother à Old Bill à Konrad Sr.
- How do Dr. Ian Smith and Konrad Sr. know each other through the lab? Why would grandpa trust him over his own son?
- Need to clarify which kind of exposure is the fastest transformation—for foreshadowing.
- Why does Konrad want to weaponize this great discovery of his father’s? What other ways could it be used?
And that's where I'm at today: gathering feedback, forging new paths in the snowy streets of Maple Falls, hoping to strengthen characters and storylines and come out with a better story. I have a long ways to go, but this is the first few steps and I wanted to share them with you. Always remember that the book you're reading or listening to was, most likely, written by an actual, breathing, thinking, feeling human being who honestly believed most of the time they were writing that it would never work. And sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it does. I can't say yet if this will go anywhere, but it has gotten here and that's something I am thankful for.
If you have revision tips, tricks, loopholes, someone you blackmail to help you through the process--please share! I'm sharing the things that work for me, and that's really always been the "What if..." method. I just keep asking myself questions and then eventually answering them on the page.
Have you read Earth Borne? Do you have feedback or comments you'd like to share with me? I may throw them away. I may hug them full-force. Hard to say. Leave them in the comments or send me an email!