A few months ago, I mentioned that I was going to pull XIII out of the drawer and resume working on it, and I have been doing that with some degree of success since June/July (but going at a much slower pace than I am used to, which feels strange). I’m happy with my rework of the first 14 chapters, but I had to stop because I realized that I can’t really go through and line-edit without looking at the big-picture stuff first. I have ideas for later in the story that will need to be planted at the beginning, so I can’t exactly avoid taking a big-picture view.
In the course of looking at the entire story, I remembered something else about XIII that I tend to avoid thinking about: XIII was never intended to be a book. It was originally supposed to be a manga, but that never worked out for various reasons. So I tried to turn it into an actual novel, but at first, that never quite worked out either because the early drafts read more like episodes of a TV show. I realize now that this was a result of me watching a lot of soap operas at the time (and the result of being a teenager, which is when life pretty much is a soap opera).
But over the years, XIII became much less fragmented and more cohesive, so it adhered more and more to the traditional structure of a novel. As I read through it, I noticed that it still has some of the melodrama of a soap opera. To this day, I still enjoy dramas and soap operas because of the melodrama, the cliffhangers, and the large cast of characters who grow and develop (and get crazier) over many years. So in a way, I want to keep some of that in XIII.
Might as well face it. I like melodrama and histrionics. I know I’m supposed to be smart and enjoy classic novels and nonfiction books that I really have to wrap my brain around, and I do like that stuff. But not always. And I most certainly am not a “literary” writer, and I can’t pretend to be. The author and the story must remain true to themselves. Readers are smart; they can sense a fake.