Posts Tagged editing

The story thus far.

21 July 2010

It was a dark and stormy . . . er, never mind.

Alrighty, where are we then? Not existentially, of course, that’s a different blog. In the world of Ezekiel Jones . . . well, let’s not talk about that now. There may, or may not, be news on that in the future. Maybe.

Marcus Faust, then. I have one last set of edits to go through on The Machiavel. It should only take a few days. So far I’ve knocked 500 words off of the book, about 3500 fewer than Ezekiel I, even though I ran them both through the same editing process. Practice does make perfect-ish.

What does this mean? It means I’m getting close to needing some beta readers.

What’s a beta reader you ask? They’re like alpha readers, but get a more polished version of the manuscript. The alphas get to see it in a sorry state, after some rough editing but little else. They get to hack and slash their way through the jungle of my mind, helping me cut out the utterly useless clutter that’s hiding in the corners.

Beta readers, on the other hand, get something a bit nicer, even if their job is essentially the same. A beta reader still looks for the things I’ve missed (spelling, punctuation, crappy grammar, etc.) and is also looking for things like plot holes, continuity errors, etc. Stuff the alphas have looked for but might have missed while wading through the rest of the debris. In theory a beta reader’s job is easier, I should have caught most of the stuff already. So why is beta reading necessary? Because I and the alphas can’t catch everything. Its like reading your own work; you already know what it says, so in your head it makes sense, even if it doesn’t to anyone else.

What is the awesome reward of being a beta (or alpha) reader? There is, of course, the knowledge that you’ve helped your fellow human, but mostly its your name in the acknowledgments. There might be a signed book in the offing, but that’s assuming I sell the bloody thing and I get more than one copy for myself . . . we’ll have to see.

So, that being said, I’m hunting for beta readers. Let’s go with five, because its a nice number, very pentagonal. If you’re insane enough to be interested (i.e. you’re seeing the fnords), please reply here. You know, so I can keep the awe inspiring numbers of fanatical legions all in one place.

Wherein I blather on about writing. Predictable, huh?

12 June 2010

Okay, let’s talk about where things are and where things are hopefully going, shall we?

The first draft (which is really like the third or fourth draft; I do a lot of editing while I’m writing) of is done and in the hands of the alpha readers (who really should come up with a cool name for themselves). In its current form the book is just over 101k words; some 380 MS pages in length. So they will read and get out the red pens and go to town on all the things I missed the first four or five times. And yes, I missed stuff. Its almost impossible not to. I told my students the same thing when I assigned them term papers. Once you’ve written something you tend to gloss over things when you re-read; after all, you already know what it says. After the alpha readers are done looking at the really crappy version of the book and I’ve fixed things I’ll possibly ask for volunteers for beta readers. They’ll get a somewhat less crappy version of the book and find all the things that I and the alphas missed. And so it goes.

So, what do I do while waiting for critiques to come back? Well, I’ve been painting, but I’m also working on the next Machiavel, tentatively titled Something Wicked. I like to write after all. I’m also eventually going to start going through The Machiavel again. There is at least one troll joke I want to add in and I’m sure I’ll catch even more things that don’t make sense. At nearly 400 pages, continuity errors happen.

What does this mean? It means, amongst other things, that by the time The Machiavel (which may not be its final title) is sent out to agents it will probably have undergone 10-20 drafts. If (when) accepted by an agent it may undergo more and if (when) bought by an editor it will definitely undergo more. How many? I have no idea, I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’ll let you know when I do.

It’s not just about story telling

19 February 2010

It’s about telling the right story, too. I just axed 30k words from THE MACHIAVEL, which is about half of what I’d written. They were a fairly good 30k words too. I liked them, they told a good story. They just didn’t tell this story. It was too complex. It was a good story for a third or fourth book, moving into an overall story arc. I like story arcs. I’m a Joss Whedon and J. Michael Straczynski fan, after all. But it wasn’t right for this first book, which needs to be more visceral and just plain mean. Marcus is not good people and he’s not a hero. I mean, he’s an assassin who kills people with demons. So, 30k gone and a hundred or so re-written to re-finish the end the chapter where things went off. Time to get moving again.

The Joys of Meta-Communication

17 February 2010

“Meta” is a cool word. It means self, or with, or beyond or various other things like that. Okay, what it really means is . . . hard to put into words. So, examples. Metaphysics is the physics beyond physics, the physics that makes physics work. Meta-communication is communicating about communication. Its sort of like that.

What’s my point? This is going to be a post about writing. I’m writing about writing. Meta-writing. Writer’s do this a lot. We’re a very self-reflective bunch. I teach cultural anthropology, so myself, perhaps a little more so. Or maybe that’s just the Narcissism talking? Whatever the case may be, this is the seemingly obligatory entry on my writing process. But don’t worry, its not what you’re thinking.

I’ve seen a lot of these posts. If you want to be a writer of the publish author variety it pays to read what those who are where you want to be have said on the subject. I see a lot of the same thing. Writing is very hard, the hardest part of the whole thing. You see a lot of books geared towards that as well. I get it, I really do. Pat Rothfuss was writing his book The Name of the Wind, while he was still in college. It took him forever to finish it, and it was well worth the wait. (Go out and read ;The Name of the Wind right now. I’ll wait. Back? Okay, here we go).

So I get it. But it’s not me. For me writing is not difficult. Its time consuming, especially with the equivalent of two full time teaching loads and a three year old, but it isn’t something I agonize over. Maybe I will once I start making money and it becomes a job and not just that thing I do when I’m not teaching or hitting martial arts students. But right now, not so much. I blame that on having a doctorate. After you’ve written that first 100k words, and had two experts in the field go over it for anything they can chew up and spit out, everything else seems somehow less intimidating. That being said, it does take discipline and you have to do it, if not every day, as frequently as possible. So, here’s how I write (at the moment. Take all this with a grain or three of salt. I’m not actually published, so who’s to say this is actually working for me? A fantasy novelist with delusions? Say it ain’t so!):

First, I do try to write every day. I have time set aside for it. Usually not too long, maybe an hour or two. I do have two day jobs after all. I don’t like to start on blank pages, so whenever I finish a chapter I start the next one. Even if its only a paragraph, even if I’ll re-write the whole bloody thing the next day. It just makes me feel happy inside. I usually start each writing session by re-reading what I wrote last time, usually starting at the beginning of the chapter. So, yeah, I edit. A lot. I’d like to think of myself as a wordsmith. It’s a loverly self-image if nothing else. Then I rewrite anything I don’t like. Which is a lot. Then I move on to the next bit, whatever is new, wherever I left off, etc. Usually there’s a lot more editing involved there, too. Discrepancies in the time-line or descriptions creep in and the like. That’s why I edit a lot. To catch where I’ve fallen asleep at the keyboard. Beyond that, my particular writing style if fairly organic. I’m one of those strange one’s whose characters live their own lives. Hell, Olivia Monroe has her own twitter feed! But that also means I end up doing a lot more rewriting when I want a scene to go somewhere and everyone else wants it to go somewhere else. Occasionally I win those, but usually they’re better at describing what’s going on in their lives than I am.

So, yeah, its kind of like that. Write, rewrite and then write some more and hope everyone is getting along well enough in my head, because there’s only so much room up there.