Warning: There will potentially be spoilers in this post, both for the original version of Dark Glass and the new version I am currently working on.
So, first things first. If I’m going to rework Dark Glass, I need to figure out what the major problems are in the current version.
A couple of reviews have said it’s slow, and on re-reading I can see what they mean. There’s a lot of superfluous language, especially when things move into the Dome. I think I did some of this on purpose, trying to show how those in the Dome were more verbose, but it comes across as poor writing.
I can tidy this up. When characters in the Dome talk, I should add in the odd long word, and the occasional flourish to their language, but not so much that it detracts. It’s like dealing with accents—use the occasional dialect word, but don’t overdo it.
But poor writing’s not the only thing contributing to the slowness. There’s also pacing issues.
I intended this book to be a thriller, so it needs to move faster. I need to increase the tension and the action (external and/or internal).
Connected to this, I also need to deal with broken (or unfulfilled) promises. These are things I wrote, or hinted at, in the first few chapters didn’t bear fruit later. I set up expectations in the reader, but failed to deliver on them.
The big one is Rodin. I set him up as a cold, calculating mercenary He’s paid to kill people, and he’s good at his job. We see this, when he escapes his booby-trapped room and then kills the assassin sent after him.
But we don’t see anything else like this (apart from a few flash-back scenes) until the very end. For most of the book, Rodin does pretty much nothing. He bumbles along in the Dome, he talks to Leopold, he misses opportunities to kill the man—but he’s not proactive until the end.
So I need to change this. From the moment Rodin enters the Dome, he needs to be working toward assassinating his target—this is what he has been hired to do, and he’s a professional. Obviously he has to suffer set-backs, but he needs to be trying.
And those who are protecting Leopold need to be more active too. I can’t use the excuse that ‘things move slower in the Dome’, because both sides in this struggle are ruthless. If those wanting Leopold removed are willing to hire help from outside the Dome, then surely those protecting him would also seek help wherever they could?
Rodin needs to be targeted. It might not be the kind of fight situation he’s used to (in fact, it would be better if it wasn’t, because then he is more out of his depth, and has to work harder to succeed), but the story needs some kind of villain, even if that is a faceless group of people bent on stopping Rodin assassinating Leopold.
The whole book needs a major re-write in the middle.
But there are other promises I need to address. I state that Rodin’s weapon of choice is a lance (a toughened syringe that can inject a choice of drugs into a victim)—but he never uses his own lance. This I can easily rectify—when he returns to the Dome at the end, and finally has Leopold where he wants him, Rodin can subdue the man with his lance.
Another broken promise is the glass blade. In the original, Rodin manages to sneak this blade into his meeting with Genna and Cat, and uses it to threaten Cat. But it isn’t used again.
I don’t like Rodin’s actions here anyway. He’s not one for rash behaviour, and so it’s out of character for him to pull a blade in a meeting like that unless he seriously intends to kill someone. So I can remove this part of the scene, and in doing so remove that promise.
So I’ve been restructuring the whole story, taking some parts out and adding a lot more. Rodin tries to complete his job sooner, and the inevitable failure of that first attempt causes more difficulties for him to overcome. And the roof garden mentioned in the scene when Rodin first meets Daventree—that now plays a bigger part. I’ve cut back on a lot of the background/history/explanation of the Dome—it’s still there, but in small doses, hopefully as part of the story rather than as info-dumps (and there were an awful lot of them in the original).
I know I’m going to find more story issues as I work through Dark Glass, but I’m pleased with the changes I’ve made so far. Already, the book feels more solid.
Still a long way to go, though.