Hey there! I decided to break my usual silence so I could bring you a really boring talk about what it’s like editing and trying to improve the writing of Work in Progress. The first thing that I’ll probably start with is that without exception, writing is rewriting. You’re never unfamiliar with going over your work two, three, four times after it’s written. With that in mind, I’d like to emphasize that these ideas are non-final and will probably be subject to change before a second demo releases in the future.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never gone over my writing as much until I started more ambitious projects like this. I can’t even count how many times I’ve re-read my own work, adjusted and tweaked everything, only to find that things still managed to sneak by.
I’ll start with talking about one of the biggest things I could introduce earlier to give Oliver a better leg up into this fictional world of his. As most of you know, Oliver is a dickhead. Unfortunately, I got so caught up with having fun writing a dickhead (you don’t usually have a good excuse to do so for a main character) that I went a bit overboard.
The first step I took was to analyze his behavior and start to dial it back; keep it an element but soften him a little around the edges. I also realized he needed a window into what even makes him a person you can relate to, love to hate and eventually end up feeling like he’s that friend of yours who gets invited to parties, doesn’t belong, but your group doesn’t like leaving out. The way I had him presented to the reader before was that he’s just a jerk because he is, which wasn’t really a good basis of character.
So, I changed up a lot of the first scene. Firstly, for the sake of not boring the reader, I tossed out that exposition lump in the beginning. I realized it was pointless and could be reasonably figured out by the reader with a few cues from our grumpy narrator. So, I shifted the whole thing to inside of Lawe’s office right off the get-go:
One of the other things I have to constantly worry about when editing, is whether my changes are going to step on any toes. The thing about writing in a project that’s entwined with art, music, directing and so on, enough changes to a scene can cause a ripple of additional work for everyone else.
A lot of the time it becomes a battle between trying to avoid changes that’d creat more workload for others and how much the writing really needs an overhaul, regardless of the additional work. For instance, the repositioning of the start of the scene throws a lot of the former directing out of whack and while I’m literate in ren`py, I don’t understand it nearly as well as Shiz to try and make that stuff work the right way. Not only that, but it completely removes a background from the scene. If it weren’t for the next scene using that bg, it’d have wound up being wasted art resources—which no one likes.
Either way, onto some story content. What did I do to try and make Oliver a little more relatable? See, in this incarnation of Lawe’s advising session, he’s a fair bit more rough with Oliver. Instead of being passive and just happening to pull a last-minute save-all scheme out of thin air, Lawe cooked up the plan in advance and is keeping it up his sleeve (with all the same provisos intact from the original). He only plans to risk his neck with the plan only after Oliver shares with him what’s been holding him back so much lately. Like in the original, Oliver isn’t stupid—he’s more run of the mill, neither remarkably intelligent or extraordinarily stupid. According to Lawe, capable of better grades than he’s pulling.
Oliver reluctantly tells his advisor about what’s holding him back and with a few subtle exchanges, you get a glimpse (a small one for now) of what’s helped him become an unpleasant person. Paired with dialing back some of the rude exchanges and being more appreciative of what Lawe’s doing for him, it starts to show a better development for the character just within the span of a handful of words. These sort of things were already planned, but not intended to be shown so early in the story. I was waiting for when you get to meet his mom at his job in the second half of the first act to learn more about his family life from his family in person, rather than an exchange between strangers. Still, based on feedback, it seems like it was needed sooner than later.
In further scenes, I tidied up some confusing continuity problems with the Caprice note-passing and making his first interaction with Izaac more sensible, both in behavior and why he shows up without warning the day after classes started. Even further down the edit road, I’m going to give the writer’s club a bit more pre-club padding, mostly because they do lack a bit of interaction that seems to benefit the art club members so much.
Well, I guess that’s that. Thanks for reading this massive wall of stuff and hope you enjoyed!