Saturday, June 4, 2011

Editing "The Resurrection" (Part Three of Four)

We're in a series based on my recent reading of Mike Duran's debut novel, "The Resurrection."

Knowing I would be writing a review, I jotted down my thoughts along the way, from the perspective of:  If I was handed The Resurrection as a test reader, what feedback would I give?

THIS MAY CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS,  so please... get a copy and let Mike take you on the journey first. Then you can judge for yourself whether I'm all wet. If you've already read the book, hit me in the comments and give me your perspective.

So, donning my Amateur Editor hat, here are the conversations I would have with Mike, pre-publication...

High-altitude issues:  As I stated earlier, most of the big-picture, strategic decisions...premise, plot, etc, worked just fine for me. If I were to question anything at this level, it would be the moments when potential drama is left unplayed.

The drama that is present is good...but there were times when opportunities to ratchet up the suspense even further were overlooked. Three examples to illustrate what I mean:

1) Crank the Lizard.  Mike chose to play the scene in the Magic Shop for laughs...ending with the huge, intimidating welder slipping on glass beads like an actor in a silent comedy, and Gwen the owner screeching after her 6-foot iguana, Crank, as if it were a pampered poodle running out into traffic..."My baby!"

Not a bad was humorous. But I would have preferred to see more suspense, here. What if the Lizard, instead of busting loose and racing down the street, had chased Ruby and her friends? What if they had been cornered, trapped in the back room of the magic shop, serious peril from a giant reptile that seems to supernaturally know and  hate what they represent? Maybe someone is actually bitten, with later results?

2)  The confrontation on the Mount.  Our friend Gwen from the magic shop is back again, this time in the company of a warlock. And apparently, they have trailed Ruby to a cemetery high on a mountain slope. But when Ruby's husband Jack and Ian Clark follow, they find the "bad guys" alone, fussing over a grave...and Ruby stumbles in later, having hidden from the magic users.

Again, this would be an opportunity to place Ruby in much greater danger...and present the "bad guys" as more of a legitimate threat. What if they had stalked Ruby up the mountainside, captured her and buried her alive as part of their gruesome rituals? You could showcase Ruby's fear in a series of short segments...and when Jack and Ian arrive, they can't find Ruby, and maybe are about to give up, until.... ?

3) Doire, the tree spirit.   If Doire is real, as Keen certainly believes, then it would be good for Clark to encounter her on one of his three visits....most likely, during the final drama. As a tree spirit, (a guardian?) she may read Clark's intentions, and be protective of her "master." It needn't have been a protracted fact may not have been a physical battle at all...but Clark could have been seduced, distracted, or almost killed before reaching Keen's front steps.  (Alternately, Doire could have tried to warn Clark...tried to prevent him from going inside out of concern for the Reverend)

Mid-Altitude issues:

1) I was a bit puzzled by the two very different reactions Clark had to the most important spiritual phenomena in the story... Mr. Cellophane, and the resurrection event. Even for a jaded, liberal pastor running from God, a translucent apparition should give reason for pause and reflection. Long before the resurrection occurs, Clark is so apathetic that a ghost/demon/whatever in the corner of his office produces nothing more than a shrug and irritation. At one point, it is hinted that Clark sees this as nothing more than a biological echo... but I would have preferred Mike to address this more directly. At least once, Clark should have thought to himself or perhaps talked to Ruby about why the ghost leaves him yawning, but, conversely, the resurrection struck him so powerfully.  Either one would get my attention, big time.

2) Why doesn't someone ask Mondo, or Aida, what their death experiences were like?  For multiple reasons, Mike may have chosen not to "go there" (we do learn, offhandedly, that Aida experienced it as a "blacking out"), but it seems odd that none of the other characters display the curiosity to inquire. If I had the chance to talk with Lazarus, you can bet that would be my very first question..."So, what happened while you were away?"

Next time.....  Language Issues & Line Edits.

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