C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

Look alive, Sunshine.

The editing and revision process of the "Dream" story is going very well. Considering the sheer amount of work that is need to turn the 1st Draft into something ready for prime time, my awesome beta readers are more like alpha readers with what they've had to deal with.

They've been kicking my ass though and that's a good thing. When this is all over I think I'm going to have to 'make [them] a cake or something'. Perhaps subscribe them all to Omaha Steaks.

Since I discover while I write the 1st Draft, I basically told myself the story. The  plot comes out in an out-of-order way, characters are either really well thought out or cardboard cutouts, and settings are either over or under developed. But by the end I have a better idea of the story then I did before this all began.

I kinda feel that the revision process is where the most grueling work begins. Writing a story is easy, presenting it in a way that doesn't sound like the ramblings of a lunatic is hard.

To give you an idea of how it's going. In the 1st Draft, Chapter 1 was 2,803 words. In the revision it is just under 4000 words. That was the result of listening to my beta readers and establishing plot points right at the beginning that weren't fully realized until much later in the writing of the 1st Draft.

I always knew this story would be a series. By this point I know that it will probably end up being 3 books. Together the series will resemble a 3 Act play...or the original Star Wars movies. 

Finally, I resubscribed to Audible. I've never been a fast reader but I greatly enjoy books. Might as well listen to them. With my 1st two credits I got "Ready Player One" and "Snow Crash".

RP1 got good about halfway through, after the author stopped 'telling' me what his story is about, instead of showing me scenes and character interactions.

And maybe casting Wil Wheaton as the voice of the novel was ultimately not the best choice. I'd like to think he'd be a pretty cool guy to hang out with, but he's typecast as somewhat of a conceited prick. Again, he's probably cool in real life, but seriously, he 'sounds' like a high and mighty douche-bag. So when he, as the voice of the narrator-protagonist bestows upon me the virtues of the nihilistic mindset of Internet subcultures, popular in the comment section of Gawker, and splattered across the walls of Reddit, it comes across as sounding preachy. And, staying true to form, any opposing viewpoint is instantly dismissed by the hive-mind by labeling it: Bullshit.

To me this flaw in the book relates back to 'show' vs 'tell'. I, the reader was being told how it is. Period. Were I shown the culture of this polluted dystopian society on the edge of annihilation, where a 3D graphically intensive virtual reality version of the Internet is somehow able to run on solar energy, maybe just maybe I wouldn't have felt as though the author had an agenda. (On a side note, I wonder how much electricity is required to run just one of Google's data-centers, and could it run consistently on solar power?).

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Again, it wasn't a lousy book. The story, once it got going was good. By the end I really felt for the characters. Setting the scene needed work. And I feel that I can say this because it's what needs the most work in my owe story.

Snow Crash, on the other hand was awesome for 99% of the book. I felt the ending was too sudden. Where the ending worked was that it was very open-ended. I, the reader had the responsibility to determine what happened next, who lived and who died. This was fine. I don't know how I'd have ended it. But it felt incomplete to me, from the final line of the story to the sound of a different narrator informing me that, "This has been an Audible Production of, Snow Crash, but Neil Stephenson..." I was like, "That's it!" and then after a moment I thought, "well, OK, it works."

And today I began 1Q84 which is over 40 hours long! You would do well to expect another book review from me, 40+ hours from now, staggered between commutes to and from work.