E09 – Interview with Don Elliott (video, show notes, transcript)
In this episode we talk to Don Elliott about his revision process on his new book, The Broken Horn!
The Broken Horn by Don Elliott is available now from your favorite retailer!
Books and Movies
The Broken Horn by Don Elliott
Dune by Frank Herbert
Max Max: Fury Road (2015)
Don on the web: http://donelliott.us/
Don on Social
Support us on Patreon at https://patreon.com/revisionwizards
The Revision Wizards are at https://www.revisionwizards.com
V.E. Griffith’s website: https://www.vegriffith.com
Miss Catherine M.H.’s website: https://www.scribes-pen.com
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:00
Welcome to the Revision Wizards podcast. I’m Miss Catherine MH And with me today is VE Griffith. This is episode nine and today we’re talking to Don Elliot. We’ll be talking about worldbuilding and revisions.
V.E. Griffith 0:12
I’m looking forward to everybody here in this episode. Don’t forget that we have a number of benefits for our patrons. We offer a special podcast feed with extra content and personal updates, early access to scene analysis slots if you want to participate in an episode, the opportunity to ask questions for Ask the editor updates, professional editing and more. You can find out everything you need to know at patreon.com/revisionwizards and on with the show.
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:44
Welcome to the Revision Wizards Podcast. I’m Miss Catherine MH And with me is VE Griffith and today we are interviewing Don Elliot. How’s it doing?
Don Elliott 0:55
Hey, glad to be here.
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:58
Alright. Will you give us your pronouns please, we like to try to make sure that everybody is on the same page.
Don Elliott 1:06
Miss Catherine M.H. 1:08
All righties. So how are you?
Don Elliott 1:15
Good. 99 degrees here, we finally have summer show up.
Miss Catherine M.H. 1:21
No, not cool. All right.
V.E. Griffith 1:26
Exactly, not cool. That’s the whole problem.
Don Elliott 1:29
It’s literally not cool. But we didn’t have summer show up until like, I think a week ago. And so I feel like I can’t complain about it. I really want to, but I feel like I can’t.
Miss Catherine M.H. 1:43
Understandable. Well, then why don’t we jump on in? And why don’t you tell us a little bit about your book. What’s it called?
Don Elliott 1:50
Alright. So The Broken Horn is about really should have practiced saying the whole pitch thing right beforehand. I feel like everyone says this right before on podcast, but here I am. So there’s there’s some people have said that is Mad Max Fury Road meets Dune with swords. There’s a lot to that. So I’m not sure if that’s true or not. But it does kind of jive with me a little bit. There’s a character’s name is Djeodi, he is a very old 220 year old man, a ganache if you will, who is kind of a recovering alcoholic war veteran. And he lives in a town where he’s you know, sort of recovered and found a new sense of community. And we’ll call it an ancient force comes and threatens a town and he has to sort of overcome his inner demons and lead them out into the desert to find a new home. Meanwhile, there’s a gal named Roan who a stand runner, kind of like a cowboy in the desert, who has to take who has got a bounty on her head. And so she has to take on a job with this mysterious girl who doesn’t speak. And she has a transport her from one place to the other. And she has to cross the desert to their paths will collide. And shenanigans ensue. Pretty kind of painful, dark shenanigans.
Miss Catherine M.H. 3:28
Even better. So where did you think that the seed of this story started? Like, why was it this story that you decided to write?
Don Elliott 3:42
Well, that’s kind of funny, because it’s not a typical first novel origin story, I don’t think because I’ve, you know, I studied for years and really prepared for when I was going to write my first novel, and one of the things that I had heard over and over from authors was that your first novel space can be shit. And, like, just get it out and do it. And I was like, Well, mine’s not going to be that, but, but you’ve got to, like, deliver it at some point. So I thought, well, if, if I really want to, if I really believe that art is better the writing is both art and craft. And if I really want to be great at the craft side, and hopefully I’m also great at the art side, but I really want to be great at the craft side of this part that I can control. Then, if I want to write a lot of stories, then I should be able to create a story without this initial kernel of inspiration, I should be able to say I want to create a story that exists in a certain world or whatever. And let me figure my way through it. So this was my thought of like, the first book is, you know, going to be the rough one anyways, so why not figure out if I can do that. And so I just, you know, spent time driving, hiking, backpacking and being out in nature and stuff, just mulling over ideas, thinking of characters, thinking of worlds, thinking of, you know, scenes, stuff like that. And finally came across this character Roan, who is one of the protagonists in the book, the sand runner. And she just really jumped out of the page at me or out of my brain at me, I’m not sure how that works. But just sort of visually, and her whole persona and character and she wasn’t like anything I’ve read and fantasy before. And so I thought, okay, there’s something I can do with her. And so I just started exploring where she could go and see where it went from there. And the first draft that I wrote, which was probably a 60,000 word draft, is nothing to do with what this book is about. But I mean, I guess maybe there’s, like, you know, things about the world that are the same, otherwise, there’s nothing to do with it. So this book was very much like finding my inspiration, sort of by brute force as I work my way through the story. That makes any sense.
Miss Catherine M.H. 6:08
That does. That’s cool. So now I’ve read a bit of your work. And honestly, your world building [kiss] ah, I love it. What is your world building process like? Because I mean, it’s it’s on point, you can smell the desert, you can see the desert, you can feel the desert, like you did a great job.
Don Elliott 6:28
Thank you, thank you, I really appreciate that. And I know you appreciate world building. So it means a lot. It definitely starts with nature. So I live in the Pacific Northwest, we’re in nature all the time. There’s, you know, a desert. And now you know, two hours from here hour and a half, there’s a rainforest, two hours from here, there’s the ocean, the mountains, volcanoes, everything’s here. And so we’re always out there. And for me, it was always you know, and we were poor grown up. And so what you have for vacations was road trips, that’s all you could do road trips, and camping. I was like, in my teens when I stayed at my first hotel, so we were in nature all the time. And I would see, you know, a very large tree or an area with a whole bunch of abnormally abnormal amounts of moss or giant mushrooms or, you know, a cliff that’s just dramatic and think, what if, what if that was even bigger, or even more extreme, and a civilization had to live there? Or creatures had to evolve that or what would they look like? And I would just sort of explore that. And then in exploring that it made me engage with nature even more, I cared more about rock formations, I care more about the smell of the moss, and all these things, the sound of the waterfalls, and so then you start going, Okay, well, that naturally leads itself to character because now you’re talking about, you know, an entity’s experience of that world that I’m visualizing. And so that started for me. And so stories naturally start to fall into that when you’re imagining a civilization in this place. So everything’s covered in moss, everything’s very quiet. You know, how does this affect things? Is this kind of moss does it generate? Is it like peat moss, where you can pull a bunch of iron from the desired affect there, metalworking? And and then when you started developing that stuff, you start realizing like, Okay, well, in this world, so for example, the desert where waters got to be, you know, obviously needs to be central point of currency, if that’s the main necessity in there. So if, if water is that important than we want to spend things, like paint would be really expensive, because using water for paint. Meanwhile, chalk art would be a very different thing. So now I’ve gotten an artist who a chalk artist artists versus a painter, and that already is a different connection. And now it’s hands get chalky, right instead of painting. And chalk art behaves differently in wind, and there is a rainstorm that comes every 100 years or so. And what does that do to chalk art. Chalk art is a little more temporary than paint, and all of a sudden stories and characters start coming out of it. So I would say my first thing is just like, the physical setting location itself, and experiencing that with all my senses, and living in that and then everything else just sort of comes from there as exploration.
Miss Catherine M.H. 9:36
That’s awesome. How do you … go ahead,
V.E. Griffith 9:40
How did you keep track of all of this stuff? I one of my problems with world building, is that I can get into what I call Steven Pressfield’s Resistance, you know, from the War of Art where I spend more time world building to the nth degree instead of actually sitting down and putting words on the page. How did you overcome that or keep track of your world or? And not going to too much detail?
Don Elliott 10:10
I, I’m just going to riff here because I don’t know the exact answer to that. So I’m going to riff a little bit. I think that part of it is I don’t care. Like, every little thing, I can go out into my yard right now. And I can get really up close to some bark or something else. And I can sit there and start to imagine what can happen in that spot. So like, I’m not precious about these ideas. So like, I can, toss this idea that it’s like, oh, God, no one’s ever thought of that before like many other people have. And you can do that again, in the future, I’m going to toss it out. Like I don’t, I don’t care about it that way, I just enjoy the moment of indulging in that creativity. And then when I’m sitting down to write, then it’s what is. So there were certain aspects of the desert that appealed to me for this story, this darkness and the grittiness that I wanted to write. And the way the world expands beyond the desert after this, I needed this really harsh beginning to happen. And so I will camp in the desert, I will do, you know, research the desert, and all these things and come up with all these ideas. But I’m not committed to any one of those ideas. All I’m committed to is there’s something going on in the desert, and I’ve got this gal named Roan. And I know it Roan’s needs are or what she’s trying to do. And so what I’m going to do now is sit down and start to write Roan’s story. And the parts of the world that matter that had all my ideas came from will will find their way in, or they won’t. And I’m fine with them not because I’m not precious about them. So one quick example is the, when I was really young desert valley cracks, it’s got these kind of deep cracks in the mud. And they’re deeper than you would normally see in the muddy areas. You know, when you see mud dry quickly, they’re pretty extreme in Death Valley. And so I thought, well, what if that’s way extreme, and you’ve got all these canyons and stuff in there. Brandon Sanderson later basically did that same thing. I was like, damn it. But this was like 20 years ago. But anyway, so. So that’s where this idea, and I’ve had that idea for a long, long time. And then as I’m writing, and I came to this point where they need to cross for a variety of things need to happen. And I was a little bit enamored by the Bolivian salt flats and salt flats in general. And so then I say, Oh, well, this is perfect, I can combine the two. So now I can have salt flats with giant fissures in them with monsters inside the fissures and the fissures are broken up like Death Valley is and now all of a sudden, I have this thing and that idea 20, 25 years ago, and believe in Salt Flats was a more recent obsession, and I decided to pull them two together. But it was all driven by the actual story. It’s kind of like I want to saturate myself by all the story stuff and facts and then not care about them, or not stories stuff, world building and facts and then not care about, and then I’ll just pull them in when when they feel right.
Miss Catherine M.H. 13:20
How does that affect your?
Don Elliott 13:21
That’s me riffing on it.
Miss Catherine M.H. 13:23
How does that affect your revision process? So like when you’re going through editing? Do you find that you actually have to correct a lot because you just were like, Whatever I’ll throw it in? And what happens happens? Or did it somehow seem to sync up? Because you knew it in your head So well?
Don Elliott 13:44
Yeah. So I bounced back and forth between research and the. So for example, if we’re sticking with the salt flats today in the in the fissures in there, I have the whole idea, and I have the idea of the monster and things like that. And then now I’m describing her walking out onto the salt flat. And I haven’t actually walked out onto the salt flat before, I don’t know exactly how it feels. So now I need to research and that kind of stuff. And it turned out it was a little less intense than I thought it was gonna be. And so I had to really step back. And now that affected, they didn’t really need as much water, they didn’t really need to travel as far and as fast as they were going. They didn’t actually need to do X, Y and Z. So then that affected the story. But I did the research when it was necessary for the story. I didn’t It’s like the there’s there’s really there’s like high level research initially. So the 20,000 foot view, where I’m like, Well let’s look at where the salt flats are. And let’s pull up Google Earth and let’s look at all the images and let’s read some accounts of it and stuff. Cool. I got an idea. Now I’m gonna start writing the story and see where it goes. And then I’m writing this and all in the reflection of the sun and all this and all this jazz. Okay, I’ve got that now. Now let’s fact check it. Now this research is even deeper now that I know what I’m trying to do with this data. Now it’s research a deeper and goes, that stuff wasn’t right and oh, I stumbled on something now that I can really work that thing and then go back to the story and then edit it from there. And maybe do that process a couple times if it if it happens, but they really kind of research and form story and the story forms deeper research forms more nuanced story. Yeah,
Miss Catherine M.H. 15:41
that’s, that’s an interesting way.
Don Elliott 15:46
Yeah, I was trying to think of there was a time where I really I can’t think of something where I had to do a major rewrite because of the fact problem. I think it is because of the whittling it down between the story I’m not doing like, one big chunk of research, and then everything needs to line up to it. And then I realized something went wrong. And I’m like, shit, now gotta go back. It’s more like, there’s research, I need to move forward a step I move forward a step now go back, check the research, and I can move forward another step. And whittle my way down?
Miss Catherine M.H. 16:19
That’s, I mean, maybe that’ll help with you. VE. Like, not doing all the research right up front, just deciding and going through?
V.E. Griffith 16:28
Yeah, I need to Yeah. Yeah. Do you use? Do you use stuff? Like, note cards? Or? Or some kind of note taking something to keep track of all of that stuff? Or do you put it into Scrivener? Do you use Scrivener? I don’t even know. You know, how do you keep track of all of that?
Don Elliott 16:47
Yeah, I use Scrivener for. I definitely use Scrivener for drafting and character work. I use Notion for all the world building. So I built Notion with its databases integrated and all the all these things like I’ve built it out templatized. So I can, as I’m writing, or in particular, as I’m editing, and I realized that I referenced this name, I might check in my for you know, this game. So rock and bone is a game. Well, I come in, I’m going to write about a game again, I don’t want to create a new game. So I’m gonna pull up my encyclopedia in Notion and see and filter by games, in this particular country name to Dur, and oh, I already said rock and bone, let’s pull that game in here, you know, I don’t have to remember it. And then as I’m writing, if I’m in a flow state, then I’m like, Screw it, I’m not adding anything to those. I’m just gonna flow I’m gonna go but I’m in a normal writing state. And I’m like, I need a game. And I need it to be a new game, I come up with name, I take a quick pause, I drop it into Notion, all I do is put the name in there. I classify it as a game in the country here Nan Qudur, and then I just keep going back. Later, I’ll come in and modify it. So Notion gets everything out my head really nice and quickly.
Miss Catherine M.H. 18:08
That’s cool. Do you use any templates? Do you make them yourself? How do you go about it?
Don Elliott 18:16
Yeah I made the templates myself. But I definitely made it all. I started by making templates, and then started filling out the information really systems thinking so I wanted to get a structure in there first and then went from there.
Miss Catherine M.H. 18:33
So how has your editing process for this book been? Because you’ve you’ve talked a bit to me about it, but I don’t know if you’ve talked to VE at all about your editing process.
V.E. Griffith 18:44
And I’m sure our listeners would love to hear about it.
Don Elliott 18:48
Well, it’s been, it’s fun for me to compare the editing process of this book with the, with the second book in the series, because the this book was written during, you know, a five year period of really studying the craft. And so it was written while I was learning the craft that uh, you know how to, from a really beginner based, you know, level to whatever level I’m at now. And so that book took four to five years to get to to get to a point where it was ready for a line editor. Book Two took about nine months to do the same thing. And so I learned, I think what I learned, I almost would say out of all the things I learned during that first chunk, the biggest area of growth was the editing side. And I had a real strong foundation and story grid originally and so that kind of opened my eyes to a pretty deep level of story structure. It in that formed a good foundation. It reached a certain plateau for me And then I need to go on to different forms and you know, join J. Thorn’s group and the three C’s was a really nice evolution from that. But listening to a lot of podcasts reading about other authors and their processes, I was pretty influenced by Rachael Herron’s approach to revision, especially with her note cards and sticky notes. And I’ve got a wall of yarn and stuff up there. So I’ve tried so many different things. And I would say that what it came down to the process that seems to work, the best for me was I’m an, I’m not really an under or an overwriter. I tend to kind of hit right where I think I’m gonna hit but I’m a slow writer, but when I hit the first draft, it’s or the rough draft, it’s, it’s pretty well baked. From there, I do an analysis with the spreadsheet. And that’s a story grid foundation spreadsheet that’s evolved a lot since then. I factored in three story method into the spreadsheet, I’ve modified it to factor in three story method. And it’s this. I think it’s beautiful. A lot of writers will be like, Oh, my God, what’s wrong with you? It’s this giant spreadsheet. But what I love about is the art side of my brain wants to discover you think wants to do discovery, where I can want to just explore and see what happens. And then the craft side or the science side of my brain wants to then analyze it and say, Okay, well, what’s happening here, because I just walked through the forest, I don’t know what the landscape, I don’t know, you know, what the country looks like or anything because I’m in the forest. So the spreadsheet, is this tedious, grueling process, it takes me probably 40 to 60 hours to get done. But by the end of it, I’ve analyzed the entire story at a really deep level, in all kinds of dimensions. And I’ve created some kind of objective like, I’d have a little bit more objective view of it a little more of a colder outside view of it. From there, I do a revision that can bring me to a first draft, that I can then submit to a developmental editor. I go into the developmental editor, work through the next draft through that. And then I do a kind of high level prose pass just to make sure there’s nothing real sloppy going on here. And then it’s to betas. And then from betas, I do another pass that’s really a line editing pass are pretty close to it’s a line editing pass, then to the line editor, then my find a line editing pass and then proofread it.
Miss Catherine M.H. 22:51
Just a few little things to do. Yeah.
Don Elliott 22:56
I don’t have it mapped out or anything.
V.E. Griffith 22:59
How long does that take from like end of draft zero to publish?
Don Elliott 23:07
So Book Two, I am predicting based on what the publishing path has been like for book one and how that’s gone. Book Two, I’m thinking from draft one to publish is nine to 12 months. For me. Yeah, so I’d say the whole process is probably 18 months maybe.
V.E. Griffith 23:36
Is that is that? Or how much of that is just waiting for your professional editors and your beta? Or is more of that your work?
Don Elliott 23:45
Most of that’s my work. Yeah, because I overlap things a lot. So even while I’m waiting for betas, there’s things I can be working on. I am in a period right now between what I did in the line editor of about four to six weeks where I’m working on a short story, because I don’t want to move on to the next things with book two and three. But for the most part, there’s been something consistent to work on. And I’ll alternate between, like at one point I’m outlining, doing a narrative outline, sort of like a discovery outline, and Book Three, after having finished book two while I was waiting for beta readers on book one. And the beta reader thing, probably six weeks of me not working on the book. It was probably two months, two to 10 weeks, two months to 10 weeks of actually getting beta reader feedback. But there was enough early on, they could come in and start making broad strokes that fixing things, if that makes sense. So I didn’t wait have to wait for all the beta reader feedback to come in. There was enough early on that was like this is obvious. I know exactly how to fix it. Let’s start working on that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 24:55
So if I remember from us chatting a few times you do a four point plot system, right? Instead of like the three points. So how does that work when you’re trying to do because we use, like the three story method all the time, how does that work for you when it comes to the four points.
Don Elliott 25:18
So you can almost think of it as like three and a half point, because the middle section acts two or three, I kind of see as one act with a really strong low point in the middle. So So act one, we’ve got, you know, the inciting incident, the beginning hook is all happening. And by the end of that the status quo has changed, that entered the new world, you know, they have to, their actions have to change, and now they’re doing the best they can to deal with what’s changed. That’s not working, it’s not working, it’s not working. And then finally, you get this all is lost moment of, there’s no way out, you know, this is the dark night of the soul type of moment. And then they the protagonists, or the heroes have to change, you know, their methods, they have to change as a person they have to grow. And then they move up from there. And then at the end of Act Three, that’s where you can have, you know, sometimes it’s a twist, sometimes that’s going to be way later, but at the end of Act Three, and you’re going to act four would be where they’re, they’re working, it seems like everything’s working, they have a big victory, and then boom, you know, if we’re thinking about the Avengers, and Thanos, and it’s like, they’re winning, they’re winning. And then all of a sudden, Thanos did catch wind they have gone back in time and catches up with them. And suddenly he appears, and you’re like, oh, no, and that’s Act Four. And that whole second part of the Avengers would have been Act Four. But that act two, and three, you could argue is one act with just a turning point at the center, or somewhere towards the center. That’s caused by you know, a low point A all is lost moment, you know, nothing that was working can work anymore. Everything has to change, kind of deal.
Miss Catherine M.H. 27:20
Cool. And you keep
Don Elliott 27:23
oh, sorry, I was gonna say, but that’s not like a 25-25-25-25 breakdown, you know, like in my current book, and, or in the first book on here, you know, readers will tell me for sure if it actually worked or not, but the first act is like, 30 to 40% of this book, it’s a lot about the first act. And then the the final act for is probably 15 to 25%, maybe 15% of the book, as far as word count wise goes. So it’s not like this even breakdown. It’s more about the, the pacing and the emotional points.
Miss Catherine M.H. 28:09
And do you keep that same four point pattern that you like have worked on in book one for the remaining books to do you still use the four points?
Don Elliott 28:18
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I will like short stories. I’m pretty traditional three act. And I could see easily having different stories that I write, or different types of modes that I write, where I’m like, the traditional three act is going to work a lot better, or fit. So I see this four act is working for this series. And I think it works particularly well for action. But but it’s kind of i i see tools like story grid, for example, or 3 act versus 4 act, versus like seven point, I see them as tools to be used as a means to an end. And so for this series, I’m liking the four point.
V.E. Griffith 29:11
What about your relationship with professional editors? How have they, how have they helped you or guided you? Or has it been helpful to deal with a dev editor or line editor?
Don Elliott 29:25
Yeah, working with editors has been fantastic. Developmental editor I worked with the Ann Holly and on this book, and there’s like when I was talking about being in the in the trees versus seeing the country. She was really able to help see the country but I found every editor that I worked with helps you grow as a writer. So for me, paying for an editor is paying for your education and it addition to making the book better. So it’s like, it’s an easy investment to make. It’s easy to like, paying money on an editor almost feels good. It’s not that I’ve like to pay money, but it’s like, I’m gonna get better as a writer when I do this, and the book is gonna get better. And so the process with the developmental editor was fantastic. I did put a lot of effort and a lot of time into finding who I felt that I was going to be the right fit with. And they did the same thing with the line editor. And so I think that’s really important. I’ve heard a lot of nightmares stories with editors, but I’ve put a lot of work into anyone I work with, in before I choose who they go with. And so far, the experiences have been, you know, invaluable.
V.E. Griffith 30:51
All right, what What haven’t we covered about your revision process that you think we ought to, or that that sticks out in your mind is unique or something, something big that you’ve learned along the way that you could share with our listeners.
Don Elliott 31:06
I don’t know if it’s unique or not, but it’s helped me with the how daunting revision can be like, I think Patrick Rothfuss, who, you know, it’s gonna take eight years to produce a single book. But his prose is just amazing. And you realize that he goes obsessively line after line after line, and then edits again and again, and again. And that’s really daunting to me. And that also means I don’t get to tell a lot of stories, I want to tell more stories. And so, but I also want beautiful prose, beautiful stories. So the analogy that stuck with me, that has really helped me with how Herculean that task can be is I did pottery, you know, in high school and college, took pottery classes, and was into ceramics quite a bit. And if you want to make a bust of a person, you like I want to make the head of Abraham Lincoln. Or maybe you don’t even know that I want to make the head of a powerful female superhero, I don’t have a superhero in mind, I want to do that. So I’m going to make a, I’m going to knead the clay and stuff first, and I’m going to make a rectangle, I’m gonna take the rectangle, slam it down in the corner, and I’ve got a head facing me, I’m gonna start working my way through that, and I’m going to do that every single time I make a bust pretty much. Because that’s, that’s what’s gonna get me where I need and heads are always shaped the same. And then I start working through it working through and there’s a bubble here in the clay that you didn’t catch, or your thumb moves a different way, or you got more water here, and the clay moves differently. And you’re like, oh, wait, her hair could go this way. But you’re messing with her nose too much, and you can’t quite get it right. And then you suddenly realize, like, Hey, this is an old dude with wispy hair. And I’m kind of digging that. So I’m going to start needling this way. And then at some point, you’re like, you don’t know what the hell with this nose and cut the nose off, mold itd up and you’re like, I’m going back to the the woman and mold this different nose, and you score it and put some water you put it back on there and just keep going. And you’re working your way all the way down to where you’ve got a little scalpel and you’re in there with eyebrows and making little lines for the eyebrows. But at any point, I can stop it and pull back. I can cut the eyebrow off, I can make this woman an old man, I can make it an orc. You know, at any point I can change it. But the point is I’m working the clay the entire time and and gradually getting more and more detailed. So for my revisions, I do do a linear thin at times where I’m going through sentence by sentence or scene by scene working through. But I also do things like a character pass where I take Roan in the character. And I have her write a monologue. So I know exactly how she speaks. I know the words that she uses, and her you know her the way she cusses and things like that. And because of my wonderful spreadsheet, I can really quickly find all the scenes where she appears in and I just go and I just skim through for her dialogue tags and refine each little dialogue tag a little bit and move forward and that was drawing the lines in the eyebrow. And then I go to so I do little passes that are very focused and specific. In addition to sort of the general passes. That’s a lot of words.
V.E. Griffith 34:35
You talked about doing character pass. You talked about doing a character prints do you do one for each character or do you do sort of a generalized character pass or what? What do you do for and what other kinds of passes are you looking for?
Don Elliott 34:50
Yeah, so I don’t do every character. I do. Definitely. There’s two main protagonists that I do and most secondary characters. So any character that has an emotional arc has an emotional beat. And that needs to be distinct. Like if you have an if your character and you have an emotional beat in my story there needs you need to be distinct as well. Otherwise, he just kind of a tool that I’m throwing in there. So if you’re going to be there, and you’re going to make an emotional beat, I need, there needs to be something distinctive about you. And part of that needs to be dialogue. And so that list of characters, which in this book, the list of secondary characters is maybe, twelve, maybe, let’s call it and then two main protagonists. So let’s say 16, folks, maybe being conservative. Those folks I do the dialogue passes on. And I feel like dialogue’s where a whole lot of the characterization happens. So as I’m doing the dialogue, I might notice like, oh, Roan’s doing this body language, which he never does. So let me change that real quick. But I’m focused on the dialogue. And that’s for primary and secondary characters. If there’s a tertiary character that’s like your comic relief, or plays like a key role, even though they’re not part of the, they’re not having a lot of screen time, then I’ll do it. The other passes are action scenes, in particular fight scenes. I go through every fight scene and I strip it down as much as possible, I make sure that everything is POV driven. I simplify it as much as possible, even to painful points, because in my head, I see everything happening. And that’s not what’s going to work for the for the reader. So I do an action pass. I do descriptor passes where, uh not, uh well, I wouldn’t call them descriptor passes, I do I do in and outs. So I go through every chapter, and I looked at the intro to the chapter like the opening paragraph and the exiting paragraph. Is the opening paragraph interesting. Is the exit and paragraph enticing. If not, and I rewrite it. And that’s one passage, just focus on the ins and outs.
Miss Catherine M.H. 37:25
That’s a good one.
V.E. Griffith 37:27
Yeah, that’s a new one I hadn’t heard about, that I haven’t heard of an author doing before.
Don Elliott 37:34
Yeah, I can’t remember who said it. Originally, it was a pretty well known author. I think it was on Writing Excuses that I might have heard it, I can’t remember for sure. But what he said is that you, your middle can suck, as long as you’re in and you’re out is great. And read in regards to the seeds. Because like you can slog through the middle, but at the end and TV shows us over and over. You watch the show. It’s got this great intro, and then you got 30 minutes of crap, and melodrama, but in the end they’re like, but then this showed up, bah, bah, bah, and you’re like, Oh, I gotta watch the next episode. The next episode again, you’re like, why am I waiting through this? And then the end? Oh, they got me.
V.E. Griffith 38:17
Well, where can we find you and and your book on the net?
Don Elliott 38:22
So, donelliot.us is where you can find me on the web, or on socials? Pretty much anywhere is donisflying. So Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tiktok. I don’t think LinkedIn. I’m not sure. But those were the main ones. donisflying. Yeah.
Miss Catherine M.H. 38:46
Okay. All right. And what about your book? When does it come out?
Don Elliott 38:50
Miss Catherine M.H. 38:51
V.E. Griffith 38:53
So actually a couple of weeks ago based on when we’re doing this thing on releasing this episode.
Don Elliott 38:58
Couple weeks, it was very exciting. I enjoyed it very much.
Miss Catherine M.H. 39:02
Where can we get this book?
Don Elliott 39:06
Get it all the normals, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, it will be at libraries at a certain point. They’ll be available on hardcover paperback and ebook and we’ll do audio sometime next year.
Miss Catherine M.H. 39:21
V.E. Griffith 39:22
Well, good. That sounds great. All right. Well, thank you very much. We appreciate your being on Revision wizards. And we’ll look forward to talking to you next time.
Don Elliott 39:32
That’s great. Thanks for having me.
V.E. Griffith 39:34
You’re welcome. Thank you.