Welp, I finished editing Grotesque. Before you go about congratulating me, I want to define “finished” for you:
Finished [ƒǝƞ-œŒ- ñÿď] adj – At a point where a book can be sent out for initial critique, where the book meets at least two of the following three criteria: 1. Is legible 2. Is in a language that all or most of the readers know 3. Obeys some rules of grammar
So yeah. It’s not done. Not by a long shot. So I want you to keep in mind that the small sample I’m about to provide is completely unedited. It will definitely change at least once before the month is out. I can guarantee that.
But that’s okay! Because all I really wanted to show you was some of the ways the book has already changed. So I’m going to take a risk and compare the old and new introductory passages (which is only a risk because I am not sure at this point if my beta readers are going to like the new intro at all), as well as one other excerpt taken from the end of Chapter One.
For those who need a bit of a refresher on Grotesque, you can click here to go through my favorite post about it. Or you can click here to go to the post in which I describe my inspiration for it (and then apparently provide the entirety of the first chapter, but you don’t have to read that). Or you can go really crazy and click on both those links.
Okay, so here we go. I’m going to put all passages in blockquotes so that they’re easy to differentiate from like…this writing I’m doing right here.
I awaken for the first time on the ledge of a tall building, the ground too far below for comfort. Above me is an inky black sky full of bright stars, a large moon, and a few wisps of gray cloud. The words for these things come easily to me, in a language that floods my mind, though I don’t know where it came from.
Stuttering breaths, in and out.
What am I doing?
A cold breeze dries the sweat on my forehead.
Where am I?
Sitting on a ledge, gripping onto something to keep myself steady, beneath an inky black sky dotted with stars. The moon is bright, illuminating a few wisps of gray cloud, and the ground beneath me which is too far away for comfort.
So why’d I change it? Well, the first intro honestly wasn’t very captivating. It also felt kind of forced and clunky to me. With the new introduction, I wanted to try to encapsulate what it really would feel like to suddenly be alive for the very first time ever. Once again, not sure if my readers (i.e. close friends and family) are going to like it. It might change. But this illustrates the direction I wanted to take it in pretty well.
Next we’ll look at a little further down in the same chapter. This is from the old version:
“I brought life to you because I need some help.”
“This and that. I have rather ambitious plans for my future, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goals without help. So I risked weakening my powers some in order to give you life.”
“What if I don’t want to help you?”
“Oh, you can’t refuse. You’re enslaved to my will. You will have to obey any and every command I issue to you.”
He is so matter-of-fact about it, but I find I am not nearly as calm. I feel anger and frustration rising in my gut as the meaning of his words sinks in.
“So you brought me to life just to use me as a slave?”
“I think I’d prefer to be a statue…or free.”
The man snorts out a laugh.
“And what would you do with your freedom? Do you really think people would accept you into their homes? Into their lives? You’d be hunted down and slaughtered on sight.”
I feel my throat tighten, cutting off further words. He is right, of course. This had all been part of his plan to keep me under his control.
“Besides,” he continues. “You can’t be free. Not until I’m dead. And don’t get any ideas. You cannot disobey me.”
Well, this is a solution to one problem at least. I raise my hand and slash my claws across the man’s throat. His blood spills quickly, and he collapses to the floor. The bastard hadn’t ordered me not to kill him, so I wasn’t disobeying anything by doing so.
And this is that same scene from the new version:
He shrugs. “This and that. I have rather ambitious plans for my future, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goals without help. So I risked weakening my powers some in order to give you life.”
“Why should I help you?” I ask, genuinely curious.
“Because I’m going to tell you to,” is the reply. “You can’t refuse. You are bound by my will, and will continue to be until such time as I meet my inevitable, but unfortunate end.”
“So you created me to be your…slave?”
Slave. The word whispers itself in my ear, its significance bubbling in my mind. Bad. Not free. Trapped. Suffering.
I am pretty sure I don’t want to be a slave.
“Don’t look so concerned,” the man says, chuckling. “You will be happy to serve me. Your only purpose in life will be to please me. You will see that everything I do is for a greater cause.”
At first his words don’t seem all that reassuring, but suddenly I can see his point. What’s so wrong with being a slave? I’ve been promised security. And this man hasn’t given me reason to believe he has bad intentions. Surely this will be a good thing. I can’t wait for his next order so that I can show him how obedient I can be.
Hopefully you can see how different this scene has become. Thanks to my friend Micah’s suggestions, I added a new layer to Serrafiel’s character arc by forcing him to be happy with his position in life, rather than giving him a sense of morals right off the bat. If he were truly new to life, he wouldn’t immediately know what was right or wrong. He’d be like a two-year-old. And that made his arc more interesting (in my humble opinion). Because he has to grow up very, very fast.
Also, because I just realized that not everyone will read the name with the Spanish pronunciation, Serrafiel is not pronounced “Sarah-feel.” It is pronounced “Seh-ra-fee-EL.” That’s the best I can do for a pronunciation guide. In case you didn’t notice when you were reading earlier, I’m not so good with the symbols and such.
And that’s it for now! Hope you like the sneak peek at the changes I made.
Lots of words for you to read today, huh? How about I reward you with…
A NEW COMIC!!