A New Day for “From Hell”

As of 10:22pm ET, Thursday, March 12, 2015, I finished the content pass edit of my pseudo-novel, the homoerotic space opera western From Hell: A Love Story.

Closed chapter folders in Scrivener = Finished content edit!

Closed chapter folders in Scrivener = Finished content edit!

I started my Borderlands story of “How the Commando Got His Turret” in July 2013. It’s grown and changed quite a bit over the course of the last year-and-a-half, I think – I know – for the better. I took chapters out, I redesigned scenes, I added and deleted and deleted some more. The original version of this story ran about 112,000 words. This edited version? A little over 83,600 words, as Scrivener will tell you:

FromHell-StatsOver the course of the latest edit, I cut or reworked a tad less than 30,000 words. I’m sure a professional editor would have helped me work the story even tighter, but, since I can’t sell this story, I wanted to keep my costs down as much as possible. Still, I think that’s pretty good, for a first-timer.

Just because I’m so far happy with this content edit does not mean even my truncated version of the self-publishing process is over, though. I still have the interior line edit, the cover (front, spine, and back), the administrative logistics like ISBN details and credits, the dedication, the compile, and the submission process. But, right now, I’m riding too pleasant a wave from finishing that tough rewrite to think about all of that yet to hurdle.

I could spend a long time talking about why I chose to publish this particular story, how all the ups and downs of my life over the last two years pushed me to try and better myself as a writer, but the honest truth is that I just wanted to see if I could do it. I love this story, no doubt, and its flawed Byronic hero is one of the most fun I’ve written yet. But it is fanfiction, and for that reason alone I can’t get too attached to the men and women on its pages, at least not to the extent I might do for a cast of my own true creating.

I’m not finished-finished, yet. But, looking back on the last six months or so of editing this story, I’m glad I did it. It is a better story than it was, even if some people might disagree. I took to heart a lot of commentary I got from that earlier version, too. So, you know, it pays to tell a writer what you think of their story, because you never know how you might change a book. I’m happy with it, though. And, I’m still as in love with these characters and this world as when I’d started, something I’d feared would fade as I picked apart their conflicts and arguments and make-up moments.

Was it a difficult process? You bet. I can’t I don’t want to count how many times I thought about giving up and tossing the whole thing out the window. Because this is a fanfiction story for a niche fandom, and I’m on the edge of that niche. Because anyone who’d be interested in this story in the first place has probably already read the first draft and won’t want to read an edit. Because it’s a story loaded with bloody violence, graphic sex, drug use and abuse, and foul language that sometimes made me, as the writer, pause to consider if I really wanted to go there. But, the one piece of advice I’ve always believed in, and that I’ve always shared with other writers around me, is to finish whatever story they’re writing. Writing “The End” on a story – even if that end is a crap and totally seat-of-the-pants conclusion –  is a real accomplishment. Anybody – ANYBODY – can start a story. A writer finishes them. I viewed completing this edit as completing the story for a second time. Because, with all of those changes I’d made, it did feel a lot like a second story. And getting to write “The End” on this one made me feel so good.

Have you ever edited one of your own stories? Did you make a lot of changes? How did those changes make you feel? What would you recommend for others editing their work?

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4 thoughts on “A New Day for “From Hell”

  1. I admire how you can get past the “I can never publish this” thought and stick with the “This is my story and I wanna write it!” attitude. I’m so proud of you, and greatly inspired! All my story ends never get written on paper or typed out. I never get that far, to be honest. I was told before that I don’t have to write a story in order, but I have trouble figuring out everything that happens in the middle. Endings do get written in my head, but they stay there.

    I always see your Twitter posts about writing and editing, and they always get me wanting to write, too. 🙂

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    • I hope you do write again! And, that you enjoy it. That’s so important.

      My “get to the ending” mentality works for me, but it’s not for everybody. Mostly, I appreciate the feeling of control over my own destiny that it offers. That’s helped me a lot in terms of coming to grips with what I can and can’t do with my writing, as well as other parts of my life.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Interesting concept, that anybody can start a story, but a writer finishes them. There is much debate, as you know, over what makes a writer. I think it is all relative, based on the individual writer, or dare I say, aspiring writer. I considered you a writer all along. The question of whether or not you ever finished a project was never part of the equation. Just so you know. 🙂

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