Blog No. 354
Continuation from Part Two
Warning. Spoilers ahead. This one has some really specific ones, so I urge you to read the book first, and that’s not just because I want to sell more of them. But, a little because of that.
I struggled with the descriptions in the tunnels with the sewer dwellers. It was one of the points that had to be edited with every draft until it was functional. It didn’t turn out how I wanted, but at that point, I needed it to make sense to a reader first. Also, getting the characters caught was easy, getting them free was hard. I knew about the scene in the locked room right from the beginning of the first draft, but to find an interesting way to get them free was tough. I feel like I copped out a little, and the mole creature is an obvious ripoff of so many things. The bugs, though. I felt really good about them. I needed to ramp up the stress and an out-of-the-fire threat fit the bill. It gave Dollard some good development too. Next, I had to brainstorm with Christian for the train tunnels and the monster within. I had ideas, but I was starting to feel the pressure of the book coming close to an ending (and the increasing length) so making a move was hard. Also, the monster in the tunnels was even less original than the mole, but I feel like the little bit of back story the characters glean from it help make it feel more interesting.
I was really getting stressed when the characters were getting closer to their final destination. I tried to balance action and speed in getting them from the tunnels to the Neon Heart. There was a lot of descriptive action which can get confusing and repetitive quickly. I had to write out the directions and movements of the characters in those hallways to make it consistent, but even then I had to make corrections. I cheated with the explosion in that section. I had to end the incoming threat and get the characters to the Heart, so I figured I’d just blast them all out. It works, but if I were less lazy, I may have had them fight right to the door.
I really feel like I failed with the bar itself. In my mind, initially, it was a much more impressive place. I just didn’t have it in me to write several more chapters about them getting inside and having to deal with more people in a big crowded club, find the back room, then deal with the Consortium following them, the bar security, and the panicking crowd. The description as it is came naturally, so I went with it. I felt the story (much like this post) was getting long-in-the-tooth, so I had to wrap it up. The description of the device and how it works was all off the top of my head. I specifically didn’t let myself think about it too much because I had too many ideas of how it could go, so I let the Ben writing it in the moment bear the burden. One person in particular was very let down by the interaction, but most people seemed to like it, so I’m happy with the awkward result. I knew I had to have some conflict with the elevator, but the smoke was an in-the-moment idea too, as was having the Consortium Operatives who were waiting for them be already killed by the Red Gang. It’s another example of painting myself into a corner and having to figure a way out of it. I needed the elevator to be guarded to prevent the group from using it in the first place, but I needed to give them an exit, so I had to get rid of some of the opposition. Red Gang to the rescue.
Endings in general are something I fight with. I love abrupt, sometimes incomplete endings to stories. They work for short stories, but not for novels. As for novellas, I just don’t know. But, since The Thinking Machine was very abrupt (and left a sour taste in a few people’s mouths) I had to have more of a definitive ending for Neon. I toyed with ending it when they get out of the elevator, but that wasn’t enough. I had to get them to their ship, at least. (And that was my initial ending). I had to add the last couple of chapters in the second draft. They still feel a bit rushed to me, but I was assured by some beta readers that it lends to the feeling of the story, so I can at least sleep at night. Everything I had them do at the end felt boring and repetitive, so most of what I struggled with was making the chase any different from the rest of the book. I tried, at least. Plus, the rooftop stuff ended up being a little homage to Zed’s escape from the Wall, too. As for the real, final ending. I tried to balance my desire to just stop telling the story and the need to have a conclusion. I figured showing the destination and letting the characters say that they’ll make it was good enough. Hopefully I can give an even more satisfying ending with Broadcast Wasteland. That’s all I have to say on The Neon Heart.
Thanks to all the good folks who helped me make it any good. I’m going to bother you all again for book three!