I spent the whole day on a new draft of “Sheep’s End”. It’s a particularly hard task. Reviews have ranged all over the map, so I’m not sure What really does need to change. Readers did reach more or less a consensus on a few items, so I can focus on those.
I need to start off with more action. The first draft languished in character through most of the first act. The script lends an opportunity to a burst of action at the beginning – two opportunities, in fact. I can choose action that reveals more of the character of the lead, or a different action sequence that reveals plot. The choice is clear (the first one).
The lead, Hawthorn, needs to be less subtle. He’s not a man of many words, but that leads most readers to assume he’s a man of not much drive. That distinction requires less subtlety, I suppose, but I can’t help looking down my nose just a little bit at readers who don’t perceive that distinction.
Similar critiques follow Hawthorn’s decision to invest himself in the plot. Several readers failed to notice his motivation. It could be clearer.
The first thing I’m doing is transcribing the first draft back to an outline, which lets me better analyze the story and motivations of each scene. Once that’s fixed, I can go forward and make sure each scene hits its note, accomplishes its goals.
There’s a success in here somewhere. I just have to carve it out.