"We pick bygone time up by the handfuls and, like clay, see if it feels right and then form it into stories about the past." ~ James Alexander Thom, The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Re-attachment surgery

Some while back I made a decision about Kindred that didn't make me very happy, but one I thought might be necessary in order for the book to fall anywhere remotely near an acceptable publishable length, for a CBA historical (100,000 to about 150,000 words, in case you wonder). I found an earlier workable place to end Kindred (which is gonna be a series anyway so I could get away with shuffling some of it up into the next book, right?) and lopped off the tail end... hoping (against hope) I could find enough story arcs to conclude at that point to make the book stand alone, and be a satisfying read. I didn't want to do it, but felt I should give it a try.

I tried. I've spend the past several months editing down what's left, and still have a ways to go with that, but I can tell already that cutting off the end is not gonna work. I've had two readers confirm this for me, though I knew it already. It's been one of those glaring issues that stick out like a blinking neon light, bothersome, hard to ignore, but you try hard and you might forget about it for a day or two, but it's still there, and you know it. You know it.

I'm going to have to finish this story as I originally conceived it. Yes, this decision will send the word count back into the stratosphere, but what's the point of trying to submit a manuscript that falls within a publisher's word count guidelines, but turns out to be such an unsatisfying read that the book gets thrown at walls?

So... I'm a little farther from being done with Kindred than I thought I was. I have some fresh material to write, some old scenes to edit.

And unless I sound down about it all, I'm not. I'm actually getting excited (in the way I get excited when Brian and I go to climb a mountain; oh boy... this is going to be hard... this is going to take a long time... but I'm gonna get stronger and my endurance will get a work out and we'll see cool stuff on the way; this is going to be fun!). I'm very much looking forward to writing some fresh stuff, and to revisiting some of my older, but favorite, scenes from the end of the book.

But for now I'll keep editing. Still on a line by line edit, using the notes from my beta reader extraordinaire, Lauri K. Thank you a million times over, Lauri!!!

I'll keep posting my dwindling word count until the time comes to start working on the new stuff. I'd like to get it down as low as possible, to blunt the edge of future panic attacks. :-)

Prayers appreciated... muchly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Word...

... count update.

246,000

Long way to go still. But nice to be on the good side of 250,000.

A friend commented to me that just like much of film making happens in post production, much of novel making happens in the post first draft edits. Never so much for me as with this manuscript.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It takes a village...

I've finished editing the Beta 4 section. Total word count is down to 254,500. On to Beta 5.... and then we'll do this all over again.

Aside from needing to bring the word count down, preferably to under 200,000, there are other issues I need to address concerning my characters and their 18th century society; getting their mindsets, actions and reactions closer to how an 18th century person's would be, rather than a 21st century person's, is a process that takes time, a lot of thought based research, some intuition, and many (many) editing passes.

And several extra pairs of discerning eyes. I've lately had the fascinating, amusing, enlightening and utterly beneficial experience of having my characters described back to me by one of my beta readers, Lauri. In some ways they are coming across just as I'd intended, in other ways they aren't. Aside from the issues of craft that I need to polish and edit, there are areas of character development that need rethinking, recasting, or just slightly slanting in a more believable direction.

But it's getting there. "It takes a village to write a book," Lauri said to me today. Yes. Yes it does. And that makes me feel a whole lot less stuuuupid.