Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Centernia Q & A: Characters and Editors

Teren and Savina, forever apart but always together



























Q and A: Questions from email and conventions

1. Who are your favorite characters?

I love all of my dysfunctional children, making it difficult to select a single favorite. Each character has evolved over the years, revealing their flaws and hidden strengths.  If really pressed, I would select the two characters who have never changed, Teren and Savina.

Savina has always been an arrogant antagonist, loyal to Aurumice, a pain in Jessi's side, and forever in love with Teren.  An outsider to the castle, she was brought to the castle under what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. She has a rich Galbrian accent and constantly reminiscences of her childhood on the sea.

Teren has remained the cold and distant gentleman.  He is happy to share a bed with Savina, but never believes that she truly loves him.   In earlier drafts of Centernia, his mage strength was tied to his skills with a violin.  He could entrance a crowd by playing an aria. In later drafts, his emphatic abilities emerged.  With empathy and the ability to change a person's emotions, a greater loneliness emerged in Teren. He could see and feel love all around him, but questioned the sincerity of emotions anyone projected towards him.


2. How did you find an editor?

Centernia was to many different publishers in its inception in the late 90s.  Not surprisingly, it was rejected. In retrospect, it was a well-deserved rejection because the story was shallow, barely better than a cheap Disney knock-off.  There was no grit, no darkness and depth. The government of Trabalis was lovely.  The paradoxical Holy Circus did not exist.  Jessica lived a middle-class lifestyle with happily married parents. The castle was beautiful and pristine.  Nico was boring. It was just garbage. Ugh.  As I grew older, the story became darker and more unique.

I started doing conventions in 2013, only selling artwork. When I was approached about a table at NYCC for October 2014, I was psyched. I wanted to sell more than fan art.  I hired two editors, one prior to NYCC and one after, (more about those editions here).  I paid for the editors with all of my profits from selling art the previous year.

Years ago, I would have been uncomfortable with the idea of hiring someone to proofread my work (even though I knew it needed it), but I had impostor-syndrome.  'I'm not a real writer, I'm crazy to spend money on a real editor'.  I'm grateful that in my work as a graphic designer, I had already been hiring copy editors for client projects.  Editors were worth every penny.

I had checklists and spreadsheets on Return to the Castle, but the sequel has a more robust checklist. My two biggest sins the last time around were commas and word repetition, failures I'm not too eager to repeat.

I'm reviewing every single chapter and passing through each category separately for a total of 23 readings of teach chapter.  For those of you interested in editing your own works, here is the first column of the editing spreadsheet. :-)

Technical
Spell Check
1st editing
Pronoun reduction
Fragments
Sprawl
'The' check (reducing the word the)
First word check (adding variation)
First word paragraph check (adding variation)
Repetition check
Comma usage check
Second Spell Check
Read Aloud
Flow
Emotion
Character Voices
Day Time
New character intro description
Character twitches
Definition of unusual terms
Telling vs showing check
Sight
Sound
Feeling
Taste
Mapping
Conflict level
Action or Passive?
Reveal intensity
Viewpoint character?
Characters present
Time since previous chapter
Length