Editing the novel "The Life Interstellar"

May 22, 2016

The last human child on a water mining outpost is raised by a spider and uncovers the colony's dark secret.  


We took a look at the first few chapters of Life Interstellar a few nights ago and discussed some of the benefits and drawbacks of writing in a sci-fi world.  Here's some of the stuff we learned: 

  • When generating mystery and plot hooks, still make what transpires in the scene extremely clear.  Show me who's doing what and what it looks like.  Only generate mystery around the "why" it's happening or "what will happen next."

  • When writing in a new world, remember to bring in familiar character moments to anchor the reader.  No one can relate to having a spider as a mom, but everyone can relate to how it feels for a teenage kid to be left out and ostracized.  

  • Take a pause whenever you switch scenes to develop the sense aspects of the scene.  What does the room look / smell / sound / feel / taste like?  Use all five senses when you can.

Here's a video of the edit: 



Here are our line by line notes: 



P1 - cool blade appendage 
P1 - consider starting with a bit more scene description since 
I don't know what a "standard suite" looks like ?  a room with 
row after row in a hallway? 
P1 - interesting to see non-conventional dialogue done well, but 
I'd still encourage you to take a look 
P1 - consider giving a little more discription and VISUAL 
P2 - DRIVE for concrete visuals first --> since your imagery will
be mistaken as the visual.
P4 - relatable - teen angst -- everyone has experienced this.
P4 - long piece of dialogue - beware of these EARLY dialogue chunks 
P1-5 - avoid building mystery around the scene and what's happening 
since this confuses the reader - DO build myestery around WHY its this
way and what will happen because of it. 
P6 - bring some stakes into this scene -- what could go wrong if 
the mom doesn't handle this well? 
P6 - faceted eyes // word dupe 
P10 - good relatable moment - good for the parents not really 
understanding child and its a solid wrap up 
P11 - WHAT DOES SHE GAPE AT??  - be sure to DESCRIBE VISUALLY the new 
experience the character is going through or the reader feels detached 
P12 - don't worry about overdescribing the tech experience we get its 
new and that words pop up in normal language now --> use this space 
for scene description
P12 - were they all naked? 
P15 - looks like they has-- don't forget to do a grammar pass down the road 
P15 - I'm looking for a goal or some "problem" to solve it seems 
like we're just going to school with the hume 
P16 - EVERY TIME YOU SWITCH SCENE - give 1 paragraph ONLY for description
P18 - jobe setup is good, but why is he talking to her now?  does
he know something -- she hasn't gotten his name before??  why now?
P20 - good cutting psychological distance here by getting into 
the character's thought 
P22 - there is social conflict, but no stakes that are super engaging
AND I don't get that clear direction forward yet, so there's conflict
but little movement or CHARACTER CHOICES 
P22 - "the good kind" is a nice moment 
P24 - hoping to see Ellie FIGHT BACK!!!  or for the new thing to be evil
P30 - this is becoming a long exposition scene without much conflict
just question and answer dries up a little -- really need those 
conflict and story hooks kicking in soon. 
P31 - seems more like a weapon than a water transport -- maybe the 
people that die are humans?!@?#!@!!@!
P33 - longer chapter and I wonder if EVERY detail is necessary 
stick to the technical details that factor into the scene and story
and cut everything else 
P33 - the "On not she..." is implied in the dialogue itself - trust
your dialogue, and try not to say something the reader already assumes


--dialogue is solid -- I like when you do have the tit for tat 
--I like the world and conflict, and I love that you bring relatable 
emotions into it. 
--liked it - wanted to keep reading -- just need a bit of clarity 
and polish - cool idea - the outsider theme is strong .

--long chapter 2 - beware of not breaking this up a little /
make it similar to your first and third chapters 
--avoid long dialogue chunks if possible
--Ensure EVERY scene has conflict -- and sensory description (sight /
smell / hearing / feel / taste) 
--drive to your first big plot hook sooner -- doesn't have to be your 
main story arc, but I'd cut some of the exposition in the scenes 
until you have the readers hooked on a dynamic plot. 

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