So I’ve been editing Harper’s Ferry for what, four months now? Because this is what it takes to properly edit a story. I see that now.
I started writing the story in April 2013 and I’d really like to be done by April 2015. I want to get back to War on Christmas, that story is important and I’ve been away too long.
But, seriously, thank God I spent the time to edit this thing right. I thought it would result in a 10% improvement. It resulted in a 100% improvement, and the knowledge that, if I edit it again, I can probably get another 50% out of it, or even more. The higher levels of synchronicity and historicity are only available to those who edit the fuck out of their shit, and if the dialogue improves as much from draft two to draft three as it did from one to two then I’m gonna be some sort of latter-day Shakespeare.
Reading a whole big chunk of the script out loud helped too. The dialogue in the first draft was SO BAD.
I’m working on #3 right now, “Farmers and Mechanics,” which is completely different from the rest of the story. It’s the chapter where Fatima is the main character, not JDB, and some very strange and unpleasant things happen as I attempt to look at the legal side of the American slave system. I’m trying to work a young Stagecoach Mary Fields into it right now:
Which should be interesting, because there are serious constraints. She would have been 27 at the time of the raid, a fiery age. But it was not a good time to be black and waving a gun around, so I really don’t know how she would have handled events. Oh well, interesting things for the author to think about usually translate into interesting things for the reader to read about.