This post is more of a random musing than anything else. I'm stuck, and I need to think out loud; and lacking any more inspiring ideas for a blog post, I thought I might as well muse here and see if any of you want to offer opinions :)
So, on Monday I signed up for Holly Lisle's revision course. Although I've 'done' the first month already, the lessons I saw were the original drafts; I'm now working from the beginning again with the 'proper' lessons.
Lesson one got me thinking when I first read it a month ago, and it's blistering in my brain again now - and I don't know how to answer it. It's all about goals, about knowing what you wanted your book to be when you started writing, about knowing what it actually is now that you've written it, and about knowing what you want it to be.
You can't hit a target you can't see, after all.
I'm using Jesscapades for this course, obviously, since it's the finished draft that I want to edit. I love this story, always have - but I am really struggling to know what I want to do with it, which is, I think, why I've stalled in edits for it so many times.
I know what I originally wanted it to be; I still have my notes on scrappy bits of paper and in random books and on random blogs and websites, talking about my plans for the book. It was to be the story of Jessana, called Jess, who is about to graduate from the Shard Academy. Shards are assassins who kill at the direction of Fate, assumedly to protect the world from people who are Better Off Dead. Only in order to graduate, she is told that she must kill John, her best friend, whom she 'knows' is innocent. So she lashes out against what she's been told, uncovers a conspiracy in the process, and More Stuff Happens.
That's what it was to be, with fights and shiny technology and intrigue.
What it is (other than a mess of a first draft O:)) is altogether less spy and more magic than I'd intended. Jess is quieter, less certain about life and death. There's virtually no technology and only one real fight. She's still told to kill John, but that's only the catalyst for the real conflict, which is the conspiracy she uncovers. But the story doesn't really end; it's blatantly a Book One - which it is, but I wish it weren't so obvious about the whole thing. I'm a big believer that each individual book in a series ought to be able to at least mostly stand alone; and Jesscapades at present does not.
So. What do I want it to be? This is the confusing part. A lot of the problem in the draft stems from the fact that my central conflict, my main story arc is confused and unclear: is it the having to kill John, or is it the fall-out from uncovering the conspiracy? Of course, it can be both, but one or the other needs to dominate so that it can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion at the end.
As it stands, the kill-John arc is concluded about 2/3rds of the way through, and the conspiracy arc isn't really concluded (because that's part of book two) - so there's nothing left to conclude at the end. I suppose, based on this, it's most sensible to draw out the kill-John arc to the end, isn't it? :)
But my major dilemma is this: Originally, the catalyst for Jess running off to join the Shards, the reason that she uncovers the conspiracy (because the conspirators have been shadowing her ever since), is the death of her sister, apparently murdered by the conspirators.
Fine and good, but for that line to work, Jess needs to step up to the plate in terms of character. She needs to become more of who she was supposed to be - a sassy, confident assassin - and less of who she became - a concerned, caring individual who wants to save everyone, and whom I'm not convinced (and neither are my beta-readers) could actually kill someone. Fight and maim, sure, but kill? Not so much.
In essence, Jess needs to be.... Tara. This is where it gets confusing. Tara is Jess's sister that was murdered - only in one lot of revisions that I started in the middle of the year, somehow, Tara didn't get murdered. Somehow, Tara ended up being the one at the Shard Academy, the one training to be an assassin, then one told to kill John. And Jess was her older sister, stuck on the outside, jealous at the attention and schooling and abilities Tara got but wary of the Shards, of their morals, of their attitudes. In this version, Tara gets in over her head when she discovers the conspiracy, and Jess has to save her.
My dilemma: at present, both stories have equal weight. Both sound like stories I want to write, and I'm in a complete deadlock over which I should write. Do I leave the original story and change Jess's character to fit? This is tricky because in my mind, Tara now has that personality. Or do I change the story to fit Jess's character, which is tricky because in a way, she's no longer the 'main' character; Tara is the one in the thick of the actual action and intrigue.
*sigh* Like I said: deadlock.
So I throw it open to you: Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do? If you were in this situation (imagination, here), what would you do? Which story sounds more appealing to you? Can you help me at all????