The Transcription Follies

So, last week’s entry (the 111th, according to the WordPress stats) dealt with the (then) ongoing saga of transcribing the first (albeit unfinished) mystery novel I wrote about 20 (!) years (!!) ago, entitled The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery. It took almost exactly ten days (or rather nine evenings and one long afternoon) to transcribe that manuscript, of which the word count totaled 17,796, by far the longest actual!writing ever written thus far. Whilst transcribing, I noticed a wealth of inconsistencies in the overall story (aside from the initial revision that resulted in the deletion of the first three chapters mentioned in last week’s blog entry – thankfully at the time, I had the forethought to summarize each chapter, so there’s the off-chance I could possibly reconstruct what I had foolishly deleted) – more unnecessary dialogue tags, passive voice, inconsistent verb changes and other illogical plotholes, not to mention a lack of knowledge of English geography and dialogue vernacular more akin to the (then) present day (mid 1990’s) as opposed to dialogue spoken at the time the story was supposed to take place (which shifted from the Victorian Era to the Interwar period).

It took a LOT of chocolate covered espresso beans and several cups of coffee to resist the urge to edit/revise the text while I transcribed it – another aspect I noticed is the (over) use of the word “well”, mostly in dialogue – that total word count ended up at 107; as well as a very sequential “telling” narrative of the action. Not to mention I shamelessly most certainly stole borrowed elements for the plot from Phantom of the Opera  – using a falling chandelier to kill the victim during a New Year’s Eve celebration (thankfully, I had the sense to not have that celebration be a masquerade ball…)

But I digress.

Now that the transcription portion of the project is complete, the editing/revising/completing of the story comes next. The story (as it stands now) desperately needs to be edited and revised before I can contemplate finishing it. I actually have (handwritten!) chapter summaries of how the story should end – an ending which makes quasi-sense if one presumes the narrative that preceded it has a shred of plausibility.

Sadly, it actually doesn’t.

Oh well, so much for that ending.

Nevertheless, I kinda, sorta have an inkling of what I had intended the story to be – I just jammed too many subplots and (melodramatic) plot twists that left the overall narrative a mishmash of… stuff. Looking at the unfinished manuscript with a quasi-objective eye, it has the potential to be an interesting mystery (or rather two separate mysteries – one that can fit somewhere in the first series of the MASC Chronicles and the other somewhere in the second series). There are expository elements that could be elaborated upon, and character exposition that could be refined and reused for the aforementioned series saga.

After completing the transcription, my initial impulse was to begin the editing/revising process, but as the next session of Camp NaNoWritMo is (literally) just around the corner (in April), the process has now shifted to start the actual!rewriting of The Golden Dagger Inn Mystery next month. I can use the rest of this month to ponder the plot and clarify what the actual story should be, and sift out the extraneous, melodramatic and ridiculous elements, as well as decide upon when this story takes place, both time-wise and also within the grand scheme of things in the MASC Chronicles – or if  this tale should have a place in that series saga.

While reading/transcribing this (very) early work has been a trial (amid the absurdities in content and grammar), it was also a useful reference into how I used to write, and an interesting look into my mindset at the time (as I recognized the stolen borrowed elements from Phantom and the blatant (melo)dramatics which most likely originated from my devoted viewership of daytime soaps General Hospital and One Life To Live). Thankfully, my writing style has improved over the years/decades, and will (hopefully) remain improving as time goes by.

Then again, the fact that I actually spent a summer writing this draft (at least I believe it took me one summer to write those 17,000+ words, via a word processor – yes, that’s how old that story was, hence the need to transcribe it in the first place) and wrote all of that is astounding (even if the story makes little to no sense).

Anyway.

I’ve got a whole lot of pondering and sifting to do, in this (brief) editing/revising/plotting period before I embark on the actual!(re)writing of this mystery. I’m (almost) 96% sure the dropping of the chandelier will be removed, replaced by a more plausible (yet not as dramatic) method of disposing of the victim.

And for those asking (if any) this transcribed (unfinished) manuscript will NEVER grace anyone’s eyes except mine – no one deserves to be inflicted with this nonsensical story, full of grammatical errors and plotholes large enough to drive a bus through. Nevertheless, I’ll keep one version of this transcription as I originally wrote it as a reminder of how far I’ve come as a writer.

Upwards and onwards!

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