This week, alongside finishing MB chapter 10, I was also doing a more recent edit for Being More Social for my Patreon crowd, so as always, I’m going to let the new chapter stew for a week and talk about the edit of BMS instead. Before I get into deeper thoughts, I just want to say, wow, not only was my first draft terrible in terms of errors, but so was my first edit. I almost feel bad I released that to the world. Alongside the inconsistent sentences from my “I don’t wanna end dialogue with commas when they’re part of a sentence” phase (a phase that lasted way too long of my professional writing career), there were so many easily fixable errors and wrongly used words and all that jazz. The edit should hopefully be out soon, and should be… readable.
Even with the errors, especially with it fresh in my mind from reading it, I think I will never be able to top Being More Social. I think it will remain my best work. For obvious reasons, that kind of sucks, but it’s also nice to know that when I read it half a decade later, I can see what I was trying to do and I feel I had accomplished it. It’s also interesting to know that if I tried to recreate it today, it wouldn’t work. Why is that? Let’s explore.
First of all, as I’ve written more and more, I’ve fallen into a habit of making scenes longer, and written more dialogue. It’s not a bad habit nor a good habit, it’s a very neutral one, but scenes now need to take pages and need to include meaningful dialogue. I’m seeing this with Mutual Benefits, though if it changes when I tackle another story, I’ll have to change my tune. In Being More Social, a scene may have lasted three paragraphs and contain short, awkward sentences if the situation called for it. I feel a weird responsibility towards my scenes now, and I almost feel like my pride gets in the way.
And speaking of short, awkward sentences, this realization was kind of funny – Being More Social only worked because I was such an awkward novice to writing. I had written before, but never a full story, and barely ever had I cranked out even four thousand words per piece. With Being More Social, I was somehow possessed to do a full 10k per chapter, in a style I had not refined yet. As a result, the narration is choppy and weird, but it weirdly works. Adam Watson is a self-loathing awkward teenager who doesn’t know how to be social around people. Even Quinn is different in that he’s mature yet inexperienced with friends, plus he knows how to socialize with his older brother. The inner narration of Quinn is less awkward and choppy, and more self-aware. Adam is drinking in the world around him. Quinn is readjusting his existing world based on what’s happening directly to him.
Another important point was that I started writing it right out of high school, so I still had a more vivid memory of what high school was actually like. I read Being More Social and almost feel myself transported back to high school, not because I was such an amazing writer that it feels like you’re there or anything, but because I wrote the first few chapters while still technically a high schooler, albeit a recently graduated one.
And clearly this story came from a place of pure passion for me. Rereading the story, I’m almost freaked out by how I didn’t have an outline or plan and just made stuff up as I went along for the first eight chapters. I foreshadowed things four chapters ahead at some points, and even though the wording was awkward at points, there was a clear impression I wanted to go somewhere, as if I had the entire thing simultaneously existing in my head (if I had that ability, I’ve sadly lost it at this point).
Having said that, the story also kind of weirdly sucks. The first chapter has laughably no buildup to the sex, no ‘will they won’t they’ with Adam and Nicole, and Adam comes across as a total creep in retrospect, in ways I didn’t intend. And if I didn’t intend that, that looks reeeeeally bad for Past Me. I clearly fell into the traps a lot of budding erotica writers do, such as “clear flirting, with the protagonist not noticing for zero reason,” and the ever-popular “maybe if I mention her cup size, that will somehow be sexy.” There are important things to take with me and equally important things to leave behind when looking at Being More Social from a writing point of view. There are, weirdly, ways I can improve moving forward by looking at the past, largely because there were a few skills I once had that I’m kind of rusty with now. As I work through editing this 550-page behemoth of a story, I’ll be sure to do my best to get the best out of the past, and use it in the present and the future to hopefully bring you the best stories I’m able to write. I’ll talk to you all next week.
P.S. Hopefully I did this right, but for those that love to share their thoughts on certain chapters and can only do it on blog posts, good news – comments on chapters should now be in effect. I only put it into effect with the most recent chapter but in the coming month I’m going to clean up this website a little bit and add it to other chapters/stories too.
6 thoughts on “[New Chapter Posted!] Being More Social Revisited”
The writing style for BMS changes a few times, at least from my outsiders perspective. It goes from a psuedo stream of consciousness in the first few chapters to a really balanced style up to about chapter 14. From there it becomes very matter of fact – ‘this happened, then this happened, they went there and said this then went home’. The final few chapters are really strong and kind of a return to the earlier style.
I say this as a massive fan of your work, but the first chapter is kind of cringey with clichés. I asked my girlfriend to read the first chapter of BMS and she said it seemed like one of the fan fictions she use to read.
BUT after saying all of that, it is an incredibly good story and very relatable. I’m looking forward to reading the edit, I hope I don’t come accross as harsh because I think BMS could be a standalone novel with a few edits
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Even if you did, go ahead and come across as harsh. I agree entirely and hate chapter one. Editing chapter one was very painful, and even then I elected not to change too much of the style, since that’s what people came there for, to some extent. I’m not here to redo the story, just edit it, and then hopefully never look at chapter one again. I’ll be paying attention from 14 on about what I can rectify.
You’re right of course. A good comparison, I think, are bands that hate their early work because they feel they’ve grown as musicians since that time. Sure, the new stuff is more polished and consistent, but the old material has an honest charm that can’t be replicated intentionally.
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Your observation regarding Quinn being more self aware than Adam, I view as partially the age difference between them. IIRC, Adam was a grade nine, and Quinn is a grade twelve (do I have that right?). There is a lot of maturing going on at these ages, so having Quinn being aware of how people are responding to situations is not that surprising. This is not to say that the only difference is age. Personality will impact this as well. I’m sure a grade nine Quinn or a grade twelve Adam will react differently than what you have written for them as well.
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You have it right, with well-rounded thoughts.
I’m looking forward to rereading BMS with the excuse of enjoying the edited vesrion. It will also be interesting to reread in the light of ‘Only If You Want’ (I think it was) which gives more – and slightly disquieting – background to the Phil-Nicole relationship. (Perhaps it was another short – I’m not recently out of High School and memory is not what it used to be!)
I don’t think I’m the only one who really wants to see what happens in Adam’s sophomore – and Nicole’s senior – year, even if it turns out they’re not together. We all know Adam is not quite as perfect as he likes to see himself (which of us is?) and he’s got a lot of growing up to do, as his drama teacher (name gone again) has pointed out on more than one occasion. But I don’t regret seeing the school through his POV: as a freshman with, initially, very few to no friends there, it’s an excellent way of leading the reader into this strange universe.
However, I will make one – completely doomed of course – request: when said sequel appears it would be great to have a little cameo part for May! She’s interesting, especially because there’s clearly a lot more going on with her than Adam perceives. But really we should be satisfied with whatever activities Adam, Nicole, Megan and no doubt one or two more manage to come up with.
You’re doing great!
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