Hello, and welcome, finally, to the last edition of the Plotstains Perspective for Arc 2. In this one, I’m going to speak to the overwhelming success we had this year, what it is like editing for Blackbird, take a look at the collaborative efforts of Blackbird and I in action, and finally, speak to my enjoyment as a reader.
Lots to talk about this time around, so let’s get started.
First of all, I want to thank all of you for reading along and supporting us over the past arc. We’ve grown exponentially this year and it’s certainly kept us motivated to continue to do our best and write the things that we love to write. We’ve tried out new platforms, grown our Patreon, and grown our viewership. Every step of the way, it has felt as though we’re taking another step towards reaching our goals for the Shadows Series as a whole. I don’t want to stress you all out with 2020 talk, but let’s just say that one positive thing to come out of that year was all of you. You all have my sincerest of thanks.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the knitty gritty. The editing. Editing for Blackbird is a real fun time. Even at its worst, there is something valuable to be gained from having hours long discussions about the silliest of details. Most of the time, we’ve come to discover that we agree with each other, yet have vastly different ways of describing our issues. This is a curse and a blessing. The Blessing is that we have wildly different perspectives on the world of Valcrest. This allows us to come up with ideas that the other would never imagine to think of. The best way to show exactly what I mean by this is to show you two versions of the same paragraph. One written by Blackbird, and the other written by myself.
If you want to avoid spoilers, make sure you’re caught right up to the Arc 2 Epilogue. Trust me when I say that you’ll want to read it before you go any further in this article.
The Blackbird Version
And this, of all things, finally wrung a raw, pained scream from him. Without another thought he rushed at the murderer, slashing blindly with his dagger. The stranger avoided his attacks with an unnatural ease. Blow after blow after blow, his blade met nothing but air. In defending themselves, the stranger had turned to face him, their features obscured by the hood of their cloak. Theron continued his assault, each strike more careless than the one before it, until his opponent breathed out a sigh of resignation and retaliated. Something blunt struck the side of Theron’s face with a force he didn’t think someone half his size could muster. His vision exploded into a flash of red and a high pitched whistle drowned the sound of his body crashing into the ground. Something kept him tethered to reality. Anger, fear, sheer survival instinct, whatever the reason, he scrambled to regain his footing and fight back. The assailant was clearly expecting him to go down because even though his dagger met only air once again, the punch he threw after it connected, knocking the stranger’s hood off and stealing their balance for a brief moment. A moment Theron should have seized. Instead, he stood frozen, shocked that the murderous figure in front of him was a girl no older than himself. The hood was down just long enough for Theron to catch a glimpse of the girl’s features, as well as register a stray lock of red hair cascading down one side of her face.
The Plotstains Version
All semblance of sense escaped him and with a scream which wrung raw. He lunged towards the murderer, leading each swing by his dagger as thoughts coursed through his head about the justice he’d enact on the figure. Each slash of the blade left with it a space where her father’s murderer used to be. It was after his fifth swing that the figure turned to face him, their features covertly obscured behind the shadows of their hood. Strike after careless strike, Theron stumbled towards his opponent, only to have them step back with a forgetful indifference, until a discontented sigh from the figure prompted them to strike back. He didn’t feel it at first, the hard, blunt object striking his jaw; his vision exploded into a flash of red and a high pitched whistle drowned the sound of his body crashing into the ground. He could sit there on the cold forest floor and accept defeat, but something inside him kept him tethered to reality. Anger, fear, sheer survival instinct, whatever the reason, he scrambled to regain his footing and fight back. Only this time, his assailant wasn’t expecting him. His hand, feeling so heavy, swung through the air. And where his dagger had met only air, his fist broke through, pushing the murderer off balance and knocking her hood right off.
Her hood. Theron stood frozen, shocked to see a girl, no older than herself staring back at him. Her pale face stood out like a full moon in the dark forest. She grabbed her hood almost instinctively and threw it back over her face, tucking in a lock of red hair that obstructed her view. She calmly walked closer only then did Theron break out of his trance, taking a step back.
As you can see (because you’ve clearly taken my advice to read the epilogue before reading this) neither version is the final version that we went with. What you have is a hybrid of both with a little extra added.
You see, when I read Blackbird’s original, something felt wrong to me. I’d never be able to explain exactly what it was, but I just had this feeling in my gut. This is often what happens when I’m editing. Something might be technically correct from a purely technical level, but I realize that there is some magical element that’s missing. Sometimes, it is a small detail that just needs a little adjustment or I’ll just write a note that says, “something’s off,” and see if Blackbird can come to a solution on her own. In cases like this, however, the whole paragraph had that unexplained issue to it and I knew that saying, “something’s off,” in this case wouldn’t be helpful.
This is where 10 years of experience writing together comes in handy. If it was someone I didn’t know as well, I never could have rewritten an entire paragraph like that. The ego can be nasty and it can get in the way of the good intentions that I have when I do something like this. But Blackbird understands this. I’m not saying what she wrote is bad. I’m just showing her an alternative way to write the paragraph to inspire ideas. I’m giving her a second perspective.
And things like this happen often through our writing and planning processes. We’re very good at challenging each other’s perspective. Without sounding cocky, I’d like to think this allows us to have more depth than what we’d ever be able to do alone. Hopefully that’s true.
Now, onto how I enjoyed reading Arc 2.
This Arc was interesting in that it didn’t go much further in telling the story. In fact, we sort of have to go back to the beginning in a way. Introducing new characters and building up on their perspectives and ideals and whatnot. I talk about this more in the 10 year anniversary special of the Plotstains Perspective, which is available for Patrons over on our Patreon. Essentially, we’ve hardly made it to the rising action in the story.
For that reason, it is interesting. And yet, Blackbird still manages to create a compelling story despite the lack of major plot development. I’m obviously biased in my opinions, but I think that’s a strong testament to the strength of Blackbird’s characters. We can forget about the Wolf Hunters’ stories for a year to focus on the other side of the conflict and understand where they’re coming from to a point where it’s hard to know who to root for. Now I know more than you do, so I will let you in on the secret. This was all on purpose. What’s a revenge story if you can’t see the humanity in the characters who are supposed to be ‘revenged’?
For a lack of much more to say due to the fact that I’ve started going back to school back in January and I’ve been worn out writing my final projects, I’ll leave it there.
By the time you read this Plotstains perspective, the new arc of Shadows Rise will be just days, if not hours, away from dropping. Can’t wait to see what you guys think.