13 March, 2016

Epilogues and second drafts

Yellow to trim, pink to cut.
Epilogues. Oh, epilogues.

I know some people don't like them, but I do. Their whole purpose is to close out the story, wrapping up loose ends, showing the fates of characters, giving the promise of a Happily Ever After, or at least a Happily For Now.

Originally, Tragedy of Ice wasn't going to have an epilogue. Or a prologue. But first round critics and beta readers wanted the story to start sooner. They wanted all the world building to be all together, not spread out over the course of chapters 1 through 5 like I first had it (which, in my opinion, I thought was a great approach because things came in manageable doses so no one would be overwhelmed).

My readers disagreed. And since so many of them disagreed with me, I needed to listen to that feedback and decide what to do.

I really shouldn't hold my coffee that close to my Surface.
So I wrote a prologue, but now that I had a prologue, things were off balance. The whole of Tragedy of Ice is written from alternating POVs for Kadiza and Franklin (HipĆ³lito doesn't get a POV for stylistic reasons). By writing the prologue, I had to put it in Franklin's POV so it wouldn't throw off the manuscript's structure, but then I was left with Franklin having one more "chapter" than Kadiza, which shouldn't be the case since Kadiza's the star of the story.

Thus my decision to write an epilogue.

And it's a good thing I decided to do so, because my first round readers and critics were able to also tell me what things I had left as loose ends. I had one large thread and a few more little ones that gave me all the fodder I needed to close out the story with an epilogue from Kadiza's POV. The critics, for the most part, all agreed that it was a great addition. The only problem now was that the chapter was tail-heavy, and by that, they meant it was trying to do too much for a final "chapter".

*glares at "The End"* Straggler.
Based upon their feedback, you can see in that first picture up top how I was able to target things to cut and shorten. My goal was to cut 1,000 words (that's the equivalent of 4 standard manuscript pages), and I did rather well for a first pass, I think. I cut roughly 750 words, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with that. I knew it could be tighter. Thus, the second hard copy evaluation of the epilogue (pictured at right), in which I cut just over 50 more words by rewording phrases and finding those last little bits that could still be cut entirely.

It's been a week-long chore, but I think I've got it to a point now where I'm happy to put it back out in front of the critics and betas to see if they like the improvement. I hope so. Cause if they love this version better, it puts me one step closer to putting this story out to you folks to enjoy.

Okay, time for me to get back to my spring cleaning before taking one last run through of the epilogue. I'll see you all again soon! :)

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Ash Litton

Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of No Signal, Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects.

When she's not writing, she's drawing, and when she's not doing either of those, she's dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.