Last night, at the laundromat, I decided that since I'm in between books, I'd take a draft of my stupid novel about Superman and do some edits instead of taking a book. I'm a little past the halfway point now (Chapter 16) and I'm getting the previous stuff into fighting shape, and this seemed like a good time for a read-through. A couple of observations:
- I have gotten much better at dialogue (shout out to my man Christian) and much, much worse at exposition. Reading through Chapter 11 (which is written in a hardboiled-cop-story style), I was actually quite pleased with the back-and-forth dialoge; but reading through the chapters with a lot of plot-advancing expository dialogue (especially the ones with my two main characters talking, and a recent one giving the background of the hero), well, they're just painful. I need to figure out a way to make these flow smoother, because as it is, they just stop the whole book dead.
- The big action chapter -- the only one so far -- isn't that bad, it seems to me. I agonized over it and when I first wrote it I thought it completely sucked, but on a fresh read, it's actually pretty good. This is largely due to lots of Michael, who is far and away the most interesting character in the book (as every villain should be). The conclusion is pretty weak, though.
- One way to make the expository chapters less leaden, I think, is to switch their narrative perspective to Artemis rather than the Crusader. She's a more interesting character, and her narrative voice is stronger, so I think that's probably the way to go. The Crusader (the Superman stand-in), until the end of the book, is pretty much a dullard do-gooder, which is fine, but it means that his voice can't really carry a chapter. This will take some serious rewrites, but it's probably worth it to salvage these chapters, which are bombs.
- It might also benefit me to just mess around with the structure and placement of those chapters -- maybe break them up into smaller chapters so they're not so tedious, or jiggle around where they're located -- but this I'm not convinced would be worthwhile, since it would require a wholesale rearrangement of the entire structure of the book.
- I had been concerned that doing all the freelance gigs that have come my way of late might fuck with my writing of the stupid novel, but happily, it hasn't. I've actually done more work than usual, and have hit the halfway point at mid-year, which is exactly where I planned to be. I guess it's just a matter of being in the habit of writing. I'm in a pretty productive period right now, writing-wise, which I hope to continue when I get back from vacation. I still don't think the novel will be anything but slightly-less-awful-than-usual genre crap, but at least I'm getting it done without being entirely displeased with the results.