When it came to writing my recently self-published novel, SERAPHIM: GENESIS, daunting is the word that often comes to mind. Set in a world teetering on the edge of technological and medical evolution, GENESIS follows Jade Tetsumo, a disgraced Royal Marine haunted by a violent past and faced with a dangerous future when she is chosen to be part of the Seraphim, a six-man black-operations security force operated by the powerful Alighieri Bio-Solutions to protect the secretive and highly sensitive research contained there–but when a rogue geneticist forces the team into action, the past bleeds into the present and Jade realizes that the hardest battle to come might be from within.
The act of writing can be a harrowing and overwhelming task. Crafting characters, set pieces, events, histories, worlds, stories and plot; it can often feel like a titanic ordeal to get the ball rolling–and that’s just the prep work! Getting it all to work together is another story entirely and it’s something you won’t figure out until after you finish the first draft. When it came to my first write-up of GENESIS, there were bumps in the road but for the most part crafting that draft was organic and painless. After all, it was just my computer and I, content in the isolated flow of the creative stream.
Then came the revisions, marching over the hillside of my completed novel like a black-garbed army, bringing with it chaos. It was a frightening prospect to stare down that legion, and the next five years brought about a task of Sisyphean ordeal. Now, I know I’m making this sound scary–and initially it was. The idea of ripping apart 400-plus pages and rewriting them sounded about as appealing as performing open-heart surgery on myself.
Let me just say this: when you come to that point, don’t stop. One of the best things you can do for your craft is to redo it. Write the first draft and let it sit for at least a month–maybe more. Your mind will come up with new ways to tell the story that you initially might not have thought of. Story issues once hidden behind the foggy eyes of a writer who spent the last year penning a manuscript will suddenly become clear. Maybe you realize your main character isn’t developed enough, or your villain lacks purpose. . .all of these things only become clear as you rewrite and polish the work. Get family members or close friends to read your draft and get their opinions, too. When it came to the last few rewrites, I enlisted the aid of my mom–who by no means is a professional editor but is an avid reader and thinker, gave me some of the best critique I could have received. She pinpointed blatant story/character flaws that upon seeing them had me slapping my forehead with disgust, and helped me weed out several elements that were leftover from the very first draft or just plain superfluous. Most important, she shed renewed purpose on the villain who until then had remained too vague in his agenda. She refused to let me accept any leniencies and pushed me to write better and better. You need someone like that to look over your story–no two ways about it.
When it comes to the writing/editing process, there really isn’t anything I can say that works and doesn’t. . .it’s all about you as an individual and the process you’re comfortable with–or even the story you’re working on. For GENESIS, I wrote the first draft with zero editing, like mentioned above. My Book Country in-progress work, CYPHER, however, has been a constant process of simultaneous writing and editing. For the follow-up to GENESIS though, I’m planning as much out as I can from the start. I enjoy experimenting with new tactics. Regardless of how you do it though, revisions are essential to the writing process. You won’t know how good your story can really be until you break it apart.
The hardest part after revising is knowing when the project is done. I’m the kind of person who’s constantly thinking of new things and different approaches, so for me it was less of feeling “this is done” and more “this is at a place that I’m pleased with the product and I’m ready to share it.” If it were up to me, I’d still be rewriting it!
About Vince Salamone