Fixing Hanover

UPDATE: See below for the “finished draft” too…This is for the Ecstatic Engines steampunk antho for Solaris, but I’m philosophical about its chances. For one thing, it’s hot off the grill. For another, it’s basically an anti-steampunk story, so it might not fit. Either way, I’m excited to have a new story done. Either the steampunk antho will take it, or someone else will. Thanks to Ann, Cat Rambo, and Matt Staggs for taking a look at it this morning.

So now I’m in second-third revision stages on what was “The Thing from the Sea” and then “Entrapment,” excerpted on this blog earlier. Only it’s called “Fixing Hanover” at this point, and it’s in present tense, because this better supports the story as a whole, including the ending.

Here’re the differences between the first and second draft versions of the beginning. Some aspects of second draft might be flensed back out in third draft. We’ll see.

Jeff

FIRST DRAFT: Shyver found it on the beach, entangled in the seaweed, dull metal scoured by the sea, limpits and barnacles stuck to its torso. It smelled like rust and oil still, but only faintly. He brought me from the village when he could not lift it from the sand.

SECOND DRAFT: When Shyver can’t lift it from the sand, he brings me down from the village. It lies there on the beach, entangled in the seaweed, dull metal scoured by the sea, limpets and barnacles stuck to its torso. It’s been lost a long time, just like me. It smells like rust and oil still, but only a tantalizing hint.

FIRST/SECOND DRAFT: “It’s good salvage, at least,” Shyver said. “Maybe more.”

FIRST DRAFT: “Or maybe less,” I said. I’d worked for the salvagers before–whatever caught and held in the thoughts behind their magpie gaze, they took. The rest, they discarded, no matter how prime.

SECOND DRAFT: “Or maybe less,” I reply. Salvage is the life’s blood of the village in the off-season, when the sea’s too rough for fishing. But I know from past experience, there’s no telling what the salvagers will want and what they discard. They come from deep in the hill country abutting the sea cliffs. To us, their needs are only a glimmer in their savage eyes.

FIRST DRAFT: To me, in the late afternoon sun, the thing looked a little like a man, but made of metal. It had lamps for eyes, although they were but the dying impression of sparks. There was no expression on the broad pitted expanse of metal that might have been called a face. As soon as I saw it, I called it “Hanover,” after a character I had seen in an old movie back when the projector still worked.

SECOND DRAFT: To Shyver, maybe the thing he’d found looked like a long box with a smaller box on top. To me, in the burnishing afternoon sun, the last of the winter winds in our faces, it looks a little like a man whose limbs have been torn off. A man made of metal. It has lamps for eyes, although I have to imagine hard to see there ever being an ember, a spark, of understanding. No expression defaces the broad pitted expanse of metal. As soon as I see it, I call it “Hanover,” after a character I had seen in an old movie back when the projector still worked.

FIRST DRAFT: “Hanover?” Shyver said with a trace of contempt as we dragged it up the dirt track toward the village.

SECOND DRAFT: “Hanover?” Shyver says with a trace of contempt.

FIRST DRAFT: “Hanover never gave away what he thought,” I said. Much like me, I could have said. I’d lived in the village for almost ten years, taking on odd jobs, and still I’d never let them know anything about me. They liked me not for what I said, but for what I did: I always did a good job. Someone reliable meant a lot in such an isolated place, in such uncertain times.

SECOND DRAFT: “Hanover never gave away what he thought,” I reply, as we drag it up the gravel track toward the village. Sandhaven, they call it, simply, and it’s carved into the side of the low-slung cliffs. I’ve lived there for almost seven years, taking on odd jobs, assisting with salvage. They still know next to nothing about me, and it’s safer that way. They like me not for what I say or who I am, but for what I do: anything mechanical I can fix, or build something new from poor parts. Someone reliable in an isolated place where a faulty water pump can be devastating. That means something real. That means you don’t have to explain much.

FIRST DRAFT: “‘Hanover,’ whoever or whatever he is, has given up much more than thoughts,” Shyver said.

SECOND DRAFT: “Hanover, whoever or whatever it is, has given up on more than thoughts,” Shyver says, showing surprising intuition. It means he’s already put a face on Hanover, too. “I think it’s from the Old Empire. I think it washed up from the sunken city of Tiorat at the bottom of the sea.”

FIRST DRAFT: Everyone knew what Shyver thought, about everything. He’d lived in the village his whole life. He’d never leave it. I might never leave it, either, but I’d seen the world beyond.

SECOND DRAFT: Everyone knows what Shyver thinks, about everything. He’s lived in Sandhaven his whole life. He’s good with a boat, could navigate a cockleshell through a typhoon. He’ll never leave the village, but if he ever did, he might find the wider world valued his skills, too.

FIRST DRAFT: One thing about Hanover: he was heavy, and I had difficulty keeping my grip on his arm, despite the rust. By the time we’d made it to the courtyard at the center of the village, both Shyver and I were breathing hard.

SECOND DRAFT: Beyond doubt, the remains of Hanover are heavy. I have difficulty keeping my grip on him, despite the rust. By the time we’ve made it to the courtyard at the center of Sandhaven, Shyver and I are breathing as hard as old men. We drop our burden with a combination of relief and self-conscious theatrics. By now, a crowd has gathered, and not just stray dogs and bored children.

“FINISHED” DRAFT (new elements added to the bits above, from the draft I’ll send in, even though I will tweak later):

“Or maybe less,” I reply. Salvage is the life’s blood of the village in the off-season, when the sea’s too rough for fishing. But I know from past experience, there’s no telling what the salvagers will want and what they discard. They come from deep in the hill country abutting the sea cliffs, their needs only a glimmer in their savage eyes.

To Shyver, maybe the thing he’d found looks like a long box with a smaller box on top. To me, in the burnishing rasp of the afternoon sun, the last of the winter winds lashing against my face, it resembles a man whose limbs have been torn off. A man made of metal. It has lamps for eyes, although I have to squint hard to imagine there ever being an ember, a spark, of understanding. No expression defiles the broad pitted expanse of metal.

Everyone knows what Shyver thinks, about everything. Brown-haired, green-eyed, gawky, He’s lived in Sandhaven his whole life. He’s good with a boat, could navigate a cockleshell through a typhoon. He’ll never leave the village, but why should he? As far as he knows, everything he needs is here.

Comments

  1. Jen A says

    After reading a very dry book earlier today on how to edit/revise, seeing your (far more interesting) post made me happy. Thank you for sharing this. I hope “Fixing Hanover” finds a good home so we can all enjoy it.

  2. says

    I love watching the progression of both ideas and the expression of them. I learn so much. Thanks for this taste, Jeff. :)

  3. says

    Jen: It’s turning into a somewhat anti-steampunk steampunk story, so we’ll see if they take it for the steampunk antho or not.

    Nadine: Thanks. I’m inspired to do this by a wonderful book I turn back to every couple of years–Revising Fiction by David Madden, which breaks down creative writing into possible problems (“Shallow Characterization”) based on Character, Setting, etc. And then shows you the first and final drafts of works by famous writers (excerpts–paragraphs) to see how they solved the same problem. It’s my favorite, favorite writing book because you can go back to it again and again during your writing career and still get something out of it.

    Jeff

  4. says

    This tweaks my inner process-junkie. What your redrafting process is, exactly? Do you rewrite from scratch, having waked the path once before, occasionally grabbing a choice phrase from a previous draft, or is it more a working over of existing elements, reshuffling and panel-beating everything until it makes more sense?

  5. Diego says

    I read this story and loved it. Upon my second read through I got the impresion that this could be start of larger adventure. I was curious if you would return to this world and the characters. I would love to learn the fate of the engineer his Lady Salt.

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