I’ve finished a second story that — sort of — stands alone. It’s set in the same world as the rest of the Tales of the Red Ranger series. It’s got some overlap: it's an earlier adventure of one of the Red Knight’s squires.
After some read-aloud, I’ve got work to do.
Some of the intentional cross-talking in the dialog was too confusing even when acting out the voices. Dialog isn’t a linear exposition of ideas: it’s debate, and often involves people talking past each other. There’s a delicate balance there, and I managed to omitted details with necessary clues as to why a character is not listening. I hate to overstate what a character heard vs. what was said because — in reality — its hard to articulate this.
Indeed, articulating what someone else heard is a kind of power move people use to control others. “You were thinking I said this, but you were wrong, you should have heard me say that.” (Ugh. Don’t tell me what I heard!) The story — as a whole — is the place for talking about a character’s internal confusions, not a confusing line of dialog. It’s the narrator’s job to lay out the problems clearly enough for a reader to inject their own “How dumb can they be?” or “Oh, I get it” moments.
These rewrites are easy because it doesn’t take much to clarify the differing points of view and the essential conflicts among the characters.
Both stories lack some import descriptive elements. I hate to over-describe because I feel the reader’s imagined version of a tavern or a ship is potentially more real than my description. I know that designing a setting includes mood (or tone) and conflict elements. While I try to write in cinematic scenes, this doesn’t always work out. Sometimes character entrances and exits lead to multiple scenes in the same location. I waffle on whether or not the audience should follow a character to a new location, or have a character enter an established location.
Before I press on with my sales campaign, I need to create another draft of each story, lightly brushing in some broad scenic elements.