The Quest Blog
Currently editing: Chapter 75
It's now been a year since I started my NaNoing efforts for this fic, and thus eleven months since I technically finished it. In that time, I've posted one single chapter.
This should not be what the rest of this fic's lifetime will be like, honestly. It's just that this chapter is really hard to get right, and I really want to get it right. Mostly, on both counts, that's because of May. Normally I have it easy: Mark is a very cooperative narrator, because he is generally straightforward, quite introspective and usually honest with himself. If something is bothering Mark, I can just write "It bothered Mark that…" and it will be both an accurate representation of how he mentally frames it to himself and easily communicates information about what's going on in Mark's head to the reader. May, on the other hand, has about a billion different things going on in her head and she hates half of them and doesn't want to acknowledge that they exist or if so only in the briefest and vaguest of terms, and on top of all that Chaletwo is in her head reading her mind right now and that makes her mentally clam up even more than usual. This all makes her way more interesting than Mark (at least in my opinion), which is why I extra-specially want to get this chapter just right, but on the other hand it also means writing a chapter that mostly revolves around what's going on in May's head, like this one, takes some figuring to work out how to smoothly show the stuff I want to communicate within the rather uncooperative framework of her narration. Really interesting figuring! But also kind of time-consuming figuring, and the result of the figuring often involves some delicate tuning and long story short, I'm still working on getting it right because of all that.
Unfortunately it's not all good news for what comes after the chapter either, even though this particular issue is specific to it. I never really liked chapters 66-70 and they keep bothering me: essentially it's a five-chapter arc that as it stands could almost be cut out without impacting the rest of the fic, which is always a bad sign. I say almost because actually just cutting them out would leave a bunch of setup leading nowhere and a bit of character development for Alan would be missing and a minor loose end one of them addresses would be left hanging, but the rest of what happens in them is, right now, just setting up the rest of them and then more or less restoring to the status quo, which makes them feel pretty pointless (to me, anyway). So I want to work out a way to integrate them better with the rest of the story, too, and that will also take some figuring.
But I will soldier on no matter what. Never think the fic is dead. I couldn't quit it if I tried.
Well, there is one discernible purpose to all this, which is that in theory, if I wanted to decide to style these different things differently, I could do that. So if I decided to stop italicizing thoughts, that would be a couple lines of CSS, without affecting other italics. And I ended up giving the "read" class (for signs, etc. that the main characters read) a serif font. But the rest is just plain italics exactly as it was before.
This has been me telling you nothing has changed. Except that serif font.
Chapter 64… is not getting worked on much at the moment. I've been randomly in a website mood recently, hence all the updating TCoD and now with the BOOYAH SEMANTIC MARKUP FOR MY FANFICTION thing, and when I'm not doing that I tend to be working on those Serebii contest reviews. I've been thinking about it quite a bit, though, in terms of what purpose it needs to serve for the story and how to go about achieving it, so all this time hasn't been entirely unproductive - I was dissatisfied with how the chapter progressed but I've mostly figured out what blanks I need to fill in.
(I like the chapter, though. It has lots and lots of May.)
I'm going to be changing so many things about what I wrote for NaNo. It spends time on silly things and doesn't do other things I'd like to do and I've changed my mind about various decisions I made.
I'm hoping to get quite a bit of writing done in July. I'm also going to be moving out, getting married and going on a honeymoon trip to Las Vegas in July, but on the other hand I'm going to be taking a leave from work for all or most of the month, which means finally free time. Hopefully. Chapter 63: Recovery is up. I know I meant to not post anything until I'd finished the whole thing, but it's been a while and I doubt I'm going to make any drastic edits to this chapter from here, so eh, why not.
I'm getting nicely into the editing gear now (after the distraction of opal encouraging me to write Community fic), so I expect to make more progress over the next days/weeks.
I'm also updating the plot recap page, since that's been out of date since chapter 62 went up.
Basically, I've done my first readthrough of the whole thing, making minimal edits - typos and glaringly awkward wording, more or less. It was not intended to be much of an edit, just a readthrough to get the big picture of what I wrote and where its biggest problems lie and generally how things hang together so I have a more concrete idea of what I'm going to edit. I'm now doing the proper edit of chapter 63.
My overly-elaborate editing plan is currently to edit one chapter at a time for handing over to my faithful beta-readers opal and elyvorg, and then I can have their feedback in mind as I edit the subsequent chapters; when I've gone through this for every chapter, I will then make any final modifications and finally begin posting the chapters. This basically simplifies to exactly what I do when I normally post chapters, except for having drafts of the chapters already and the initial audience consisting only of opal and elyvorg. I think that will help; working on chapters after feedback for previous chapters tends to give a better perspective on them.
So yeah. It's probably going to be a while, but I will get there.
I admit I cheated slightly: chapter 75 is not done, per se. This is because one of the big problems with writing that chapter was how to fit in all the information that needed to be fit in. Additionally, I needed to figure out where to fit in the additional detail that occurred to me earlier this month. So I wrote the second half of the chapter in one way, but then realized as I was nearing the end that what I was writing would be better off earlier in the chapter. Because then writing the ending leading off from something that wouldn't actually be near the end didn't quite make sense, I just started chapter 76. Almost all of the elements of the chapter were written (though I've kind of decided to replace a huge chunk of dialogue with flashbacks that would tell it better), if in a bit of a wonky order, so I don't think this counts as not having finished the fic. Feel free to disagree if you want.
Now to go to sleep because I was writing all night and now I have a massive headache and am a zombie.
Revelations are happening. I'm on the eighth page of chapter 75 now; I don't think it should be that many more pages, though the wildcardness is still there and it will depend on the outcome.
I've been thinking about changing my posting plan a little: I think it might be a good idea to first edit the entire thing, get opal (and possibly elyvorg, if she's up for it?) to beta-read it then so that they can have a wider sense of the context when commenting on each chapter, and then edit each chapter more thoroughly individually before posting, taking their critiques into account. This would mean a longer gap before chapter 63 goes up but a shorter one between chapters once I do start posting.
I'm done with the One-Shot A scene and have started the next one; then it will be getting all the information that needs to come out to come out and integrating that properly with the action.
I fetched the original One-Shot A document after writing nearly all of the scene again and have concluded that I really like both of them but they have different emphases and rhythms. It will be hard to decide what if anything to use from the old version. Maybe I'll just post the old version as an extra after the chapter or something.
I'm not actually sure how long this chapter will be, so it's a bit of a wildcard; it could become quite long, or it could not be. Hopefully I'll finish it in the next couple of days, at any rate, so I have time for chapter 76 before the end of the month.
I've finished chapter 74 and started the scene formerly known as One-Shot A. I haven't gotten the chance to retrieve the version I originally wrote from my desktop's hard drive yet; I'm going to do so tomorrow, but until then I'm just writing a new version of it. I really liked several bits of One-Shot A that I can't type up from memory, but I also like what I've written so far into the document; it fixes something that was rather rushed in the old version, and I'm generally pretty satisfied with the outcome. The end result will probably be some kind of mixture of the two, unless when I reread the original I discover it was actually awful all along and I just never noticed.
Still lots of things I'd like to change in editing in chapter 74, but who cares because I'M WRITING CHAPTER 75.
This is also the final scene of chapter 74; after that, it's chapter 75, which I still can't believe I'm almost at.
Funnily enough, I didn't have a very good writing day for most of it; that old plot point I talked about yesterday was still stuck somewhere in the knots of my brain, and I ended up explaining to opal the basic idea of what was going on and bouncing my ideas off him, which promptly sorted that out. Then, however, I needed to rewrite a fairly lengthy conversation because what I ended up going with regarding that plot point was the 'fixed' version while I'd already written a bit assuming the other, and after that I actually found myself with fewer words than I had at the end of yesterday. So then I had to make that up before I could start making actual progress, and by that point it was past midnight.
But well, getting to the juicy bits really helped. I wasn't going to write even this much - I thought I'd settle for passing 1667 today and try to catch up tomorrow - but then suddenly I was passing the goal for today and then I went on for a bit after that.
I'll almost definitely finish chapter 74 tomorrow, and then it's chapter 75 time. Oh, man.
So I'm at 339,866 words right now, which is 1526 words since yesterday, leaving me ever so slightly more behind. But I still fully expect to make it up in the weekend.
I decided to move a large chunk of chapter 73 into chapter 74, so I'm now on the fifth page of that. It's going to be several more pages in my estimation, but at least while chapter 73 was kind of hard to write since it was all emotional turmoil and I had no idea where it was actually going so I had to process it at a more reasonable non-NaNo writing speed, I'm now getting to the OH MY GOD PLANNING THIS FOR YEARS bits for real.
Unfortunately, chapter 74 has been in the planning for a bit too long - which is to say that as I'm writing it the holes in twelve-year-old me's vision of it are suddenly becoming a lot more apparent than they seemed when I was just putting together the planning. (Blessingly, this is also the final plot point in the fic that is quite that old, so I should not have this problem with chapters 75/76.) I may do some last-minute shuffling around of things; I have some ideas on getting it to work better, but I'm going to sleep on it.
GUYS THIS IS THE THIRD TO LAST CHAPTER. WHEN I FINISH IT I WILL BE WRITING CHAPTER 75 WHICH IS GOING TO START WITH WHAT I USED TO CALL ONE-SHOT A. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LONG I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THAT. AND IT HAS ALL THE PLOT.
Chapter 73 is being a lot longer than I thought, but that's okay because I wasn't sure chapter 74 was enough material anyway; this gives me room to move stuff into that.
How do these things even happen, seriously.
Chapter 73 is being wayyyy more emotional than I thought it would be. Wow. I haven't even gotten to the real stuff that's supposed to happen in this chapter.
The reason I was so quick with this is that, if you forgot, chapter 72 was what I mentioned at the beginning of the month as the next chapter I'd been planning for years and was thus really excited about writing. So that was fun. :D (It has Rick in it.)
Then chapter 73 will be a bit of a breather chapter about which my ideas are kind of rough (I mean, I know what actually needs to happen in it but I'm planning to include some charactery conversation as well), chapter 74 is another planning-this-for-way-too-long, chapter 75 is ALL THE PLOT and will be really fun and really hard to do right, and chapter 76 is the end. Unless I end up doing a separate epilogue as I used to intend to before I wrote the chapter plan. We'll see.
Chapter 71 is on page eight and nearly done. This is still all working pretty well with the timeline - I've written nearly nine chapters out of fourteen, a day before the month is two thirds through.
This is a really nostalgic part of the story - basically everything happening right now is calling back to some of the early chapters. On the one hand, this made me reread some of those early chapters and discover gems of my fourteen-year-old self's writing such as "A bearded man, most of his bearded face hidden in shadow" and "She didn’t say anything to him and they just walked down the stairs, ignoring each other very ironically." On the other hand, when I was going to reference how May came with Mark to confront the Mew Hunter largely because he'd also stolen her Larvitar, I discovered that that never happened, because apparently the version I was remembering was the UMR and I took that part out in the ILCOE. (Originally, they had a full five-on-five battle in Rainbow Woods, leading to all of Mark's Pokémon fainting, and May lent him Larvitar for the rest of the journey, leading to the Mew Hunter stealing him when he stole Mark's Pokéballs; in the ILCOE, I decided the full battle was unnecessary, cut it down to just Dratini vs. Larvitar, and removed the bit about Mark having Larvitar entirely.) It was pretty strange; the ILCOE has been the official version of the fic for so long that things that used to be in the UMR - like Mark randomly encountering the Waraider herd near Ruxido sometime in chapter 28 or so - tend to slip my memory entirely until I start thinking about that version specifically. This weird reversal of that principle has never happened before.
It is so weird to be writing this. It's seemed like this way distant vague future something for so many years.
Last night I lay awake in bed for an hour or two unable to sleep because my brain insisted on thinking about the ending of the fic, and some things actually came together in a way they hadn't before. It's strange how even when writing things ridiculously fast and badly, I'm having roughly the same amount of actual ideas as I would have in the time it would have taken me to write these chapters at my normal pace. I worried a bit about that before I started; it seemed like the bits of the chapter plan that I was unsatisfied with or uncertain about would simply stay that way if I was trying to NaNo this, without my usual thing with getting sudden ideas as I'm writing. But it's working way better than I could have hoped.
Anyway, I am now writing THE LAST FIVE-CHAPTER ARC. I still haven't quite worked out what to title it; the possibilities that have occurred to me don't quite fit in with "The Pokémon Festival" and "The Ouen League".
Also, writing this battle is a lot more of a headache than I thought. I've almost spent more time organizing it in my planning document so that it will make some sense than actually writing it.