East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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This is probably the worst writing job I took this year.
No, hold it.
Probably researching the connection between Nazi occultism and sexual magic for a client of RE:CON was the worst, but this one comes damn close.
I am revising a novel I wrote when I was 24.
And boy is it tiresome.

This I have to say about the myself that lived in 1991: the kid had some pretty cool ideas.
Granted, he stole most of them from Michael Moorcock, Edward Bryant, Arthur Byron Cover and Tanith Lee, but as that guy said, you gotta steal from the best.
The novel, written in Italian of course and with a title taken from a song by Toyah Wilcox – a fact that, I am sure, dates the whole business nicely – is roughly 40+ thousand words, and is built like a mystery.
Another plus for the kid: even back then, my younger self knew that the best structure to explore a strange world is either a picaresque or a mystery.
And third: the kid could do a good bit of dialog. I explain that with a passion for old movies. The Thin Man was obviously a big influence, and I remember at the time the kid had developed a passion for noir movies.
You can’t dig noirs and not get an ear for dialog.


But then comes the down side.
The dialog is good but you too often get talking heads – and no, I don’t mean the band. Basically it’s a story about people talking about what happened, what’s happening, what’s likely to happen.
I flagging a lot of places in which 200-words worth of… stuff, might help.
Also, it needs a little action.
The way it’s now, it’s deadpan. With the stress on dead.
Also, damn, punctuation.
The kid loved his … and used the ellipsis even when a good old reliable full stop would have been fine. This is a big problem with the dialogs. A lot of people talking over each other, and a lot of ellipses.
And exclamation marks.
But we all know that we are only allowed 3 exclamation marks per chapter.
And in most of the circumstances, they were used wrong anyway.
But what’s really breaking my heart is the relationship between the two main characters – the Nick & Nora of the piece, if you will. And I get it, I get it that given the setting and the premise the relationship can’t be straightforward and “standard”, but what the heck, bring a little life to this couple.

So, the current work is revise and note where rewriting or expanding will be needed. I’d like to have it ready by August.
The cover’s ready, and I am working on the text.
But never more than one hour at the time, because it’s the most boring and infuriating job I’ve taken so far.
A lot more boring than sexual magic and the Nazis.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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