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FFC #88 - Aha!

Posted March 10th, 2022 at 09:44 PM by TGRF
TGRF's Fan Fiction Chronicles - Entry #88

After some lengthy hemming and hawing, and after consulting my readers of Dilmir (those who have posted on the thread at least), I've come to a conclusion:

I will NOT be posting the Dilmir Rewrite I've been promising. I went back and forth on this decision a lot, but ultimately I believe it is for the best. I'll get into why in a moment, but the short version is that the story would have been mediocre at best.

However, I HAVE decided to repost the Dilmir sequels instead. I know, I know, the plan has changed again. I guess it's kind of my thing.

I was rereading the Dilmir sequels recently, and realized that they're way better than I remember them. Each has its issues and strengths, but they're structured well and escalate tension with ease, and honestly I found myself getting sucked in as I read.

Now the reason I can repost the sequels is because I have decided to edit them. Do note, these will NOT be rewrites the same way Valkyrie was a rewrite of Utgar, with completely different stories and even characters. These will be true rewrites, using the same plot and development of the original sequels, with minimal rewriting.

However, to get the sequels into a form I feel comfortable posting, those rewrites will need to be significant. The first sequel to Dilmir will keep some of its original chapters, but a few key things have been changed, meaning about half of it will need to be rewritten. I'm in the process of these edits right now. The second sequel to Dilmir will need to be rewritten completely, but again, the original plot and development will remain in tact as much as possible. Some of the original chapters will probably still be there.

Why am I doing this?
The reasoning behind all this goes back to the Rewrite. There were no issues with the Rewrite; everything slid together reasonably well and there weren't any big issues I was aware of while developing. But it was kind of just there. The plot just kind of happened, and then got resolved. Sure, there was tension, there were stakes, there were great twists... but it just felt bland.

This is how all of my stories since HiS have felt to me: flat. They've also been short. When I rewrote Utgar, I was sure Valkyrie would be a lot longer. But it wasn't. This Rewrite was only going to be about fourteen chapters, far shorter than I'd like. Something was definitely wrong, but I couldn't tell what.

Fortunately, I was at the time looking over the development for Dilmir and its sequels. I was doing this because, back when I wrote those stories, my fictions were long. They escalated tension and excelled in other areas with apparent ease. In short, my development process back then was simply better than it was now. I wanted to figure out what I was missing.

Well, I found what I was looking for. Seeing how easily the Dilmir sequels escalated tension, constantly making things worse and eliminating options, I tried to do the same thing to the Rewrite. I tried to make things worse, eliminate options, and raise the stakes.

And I realized I couldn't.

As it turns out, I've been focused for seven years on finding 'the max'. Maximum stakes, maximum tension, maximum urgency to solve the conflict. Unfortunately, I finally succeeded. Don't get me wrong, getting all those things to 'the max' in your stories is good. The problem? I was starting there.

When you start with the highest possible stakes, the worst possible consequences, and no options but the one taken, there's nothing to escalate. You're at the top, but you can't go any higher.

It's the escalation of stakes which increases tension, NOT how high the stakes are.

This is what was happening with the Rewrite, and a big factor in my decision to drop it. Everything was already maxxed out, so things resolved quickly.

But there's more...
This was part of why my stories were short, but not the whole reason. The real reason is because since HiS, I've been building stories around character arcs. Again, arcs are great, don't get me wrong, but they aren't meant to define a story. This is because arcs naturally have giant gaps in the middle where 'plot-related stuff happens'. Shocker here, but if you didn't start with a plot, those gaps don't magically get filled in. For this reason, my stories slid smoothly from beginning, to middle, to end. And it didn't take very long.

Looking back at Dilmir and its sequels, I used to start with a basic premise, and then throw all the development I had at it, adding necessary scenes as they came along. I had no concept of character arcs or the 3-act-structure, which meant there was no pre-defined structure I was trying to fill. Without that, there were no holes, and the story grew naturally on its own. And it was a lot longer as a result.

So when I rewrite the final sequel to Dilmir, I'll be paying attention to all this. The first sequel is just a straight edit; no new techniques or development, just edits.

With the second sequel though, I hope to build it the way I used to, starting from the premise, taking the development I've already done, and applying my new processes and techniques. If I'm right, the final sequel should be able to merge the best of what I used to do, and what I do now.

If THAT works, then I want to try the new process out on a story where I haven't done half the development already. I'm still thinking about what this story will be, but I'm considering a return to Valhalla.

But for now... two more pieces have fallen into place.

You'll see the first of the Dilmir sequels within a couple of weeks, max.

Until then, keep writing, and don't be afraid to reconsider everything you know. Because if you're like me, you probably learned it wrong.

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