Some of the episodes I've written for Blood Magic have been memorable to me, for one reason or another: the first two because I wrote them and revised them so many times before they became part of this series, the season one finale, Borivat's story in Cracks in the Ice, or even the recent Contaminant. In some cases it might be because of the amount of time I spent on the writing, or how difficult the writing was, or, less commonly, how much I personally enjoy a given episode. Should I admit that I remembered very little about Unbalanced before I did my pre-revision re-read?
Other than indulging my penchant for expounding on space-related topics, and perhaps providing you with some insight into rocketry, I bring this discussion up because it informs a way I have been slowly coming to approach writing. I, probably like a lot of new writers, was approaching the writing of my stories like a single-stage-to-orbit. When I sat down to write, I had an expectation in my head that I would sit down and craft all of the components of a story in a single pass, and that revisions were mostly just for changing around wording and cleaning up typos. Which, it turns out, is really challenging to do, because stories are complicated.
how much I struggled with the writing, and why that was. I won’t rehash those difficulties here, but the result was that I was put far behind on my writing for this episode, barely even starting it before the month began. Plus, part two proved to have its own difficulties, some related to the troubles with the first part, and some entirely original, which led me to even write August’s episode out of order (which you will read about when episode twenty goes live next month). The short version of this post: Contaminant would really benefit from my new staging revisions methodology.
As I think I said when this episode was first released, or at least when I did the review of season one, A Prime's Place doesn't entirely fit with the rest of Blood Magic. Despite that, it is one of my favorite episodes. It's short, it's a very tight viewpoint, its heavy on character and short on plot. I knew going into my revisions that I wanted to make minimal changes to it, and I retained that conviction throughout my re-read.
Unlike episode four, which when I went to do revisions I liked almost nothing about, there were a lot of things that I liked about Far From Home as I did my customary re-read in preparation to do my revisions. I thought the original did a good job of capturing Kiluron's attitude, and the interactions with the foreign visitors was better than I expected to find it. I also liked the conflict I had set up, though I realized that I would need to build it out in a little more detail for the revisions, and that I needed to either change, or do without, the contrived fight scene with Vere. Maybe that's why I found it oddly difficult to work on the revisions for this episode.
Criticism is a vital part of literature, and for that matter most fields. Active, reasoned critiques help identify weaknesses and strengths, provide multiple interpretations and perspectives on disparate matters, and foster improvement, perhaps more than anything else. They are just as essential to individuals; critical feedback is immensely helpful to improving oneself in any number of aspects, whether that's a specific ability, or more generally. It is something that we are encouraged to actively seek out in order to understand how our work and how we are perceived and received by others. Unfortunately, it is also something that I struggle with receiving.
For once, I actually managed to write a true short story; this particular piece comes in under six thousand words (barely), unlike most of the Blood Magic "short" stories, which hover around ten thousand words. It was a quick write for me, and will probably be a quick read for you. There aren't even any section breaks, and all of the action takes place in a single day. It's very much a read in one sitting kind of piece.
Either I forgot, or I thoroughly repressed just how bad episode four was. At least, I hope it was one of those two, because I would hate to think that as either an author or a reader I ever looked at this episode and thought it was good. When I went to start revisions on this episode, I floundered around, looking for some way to start, because I thought that it was so bad that no amount of revision could help. I was very nearly tempted to throw out the entire original text and start over again, and the only thing that restrained me was that I'm still nominally calling these revisions, and have promised to be somewhat true to the original episodes. That meant, unfortunately, that I was stuck with the silly plot involving some thieves, some poison, and some gold.
Going back and re-reading these early episodes has really made me recognize just how much my writing has improved (in my opinion, anyway) in the less-than-a-year since I started releasing Blood Magic here on the site. The beginning of this episode, much like episode two, was told in a weird, semi-omniscient viewpoint, before reverting to the third person limited that is characteristic of most of the series. I think this was probably me trying to do a sort of "establishing shot," like would be done in a television show, but that technique really doesn't work for writing. It makes me wonder if I even recognized how jarring the viewpoint switches would be, or if I even knew I was doing it.
Hopefully you remember from last month that one of my projects for this year involves revising and re-releasing the previously published episodes of Blood Magic's first season. When I first thought about undertaking this initiative, I mostly imagined it as an editing pass, finding grammatical and typographical errors and cleaning them up, maybe tightening up the narrative a bit. However, when I went back and actually began revising, I found that I had a lot more to change than I had expected.