Archive for the ‘Novel #1’ Category

Draft 2 Done!

Posted by arnaud on July 18th, 2010

So, the second draft I had started editing on may 24th is done today, after nearly 2 months.

A couple of remarks :

  • I hate editing : I feel that all I have done with this draft was line editing (correcting spelling errors, removing unneeeded words). Only in a few places did I feel like I did some serious work (the removal of the cryptography stuff). Next WritingExcuses (tomorrow) is supposed to be about line editing. Close, but no cigar!
  • I don’t feel like this novel needs serious revising now. I saw no major plot holes, and the only disturbing point (the use of the magic system being introduced in the third act), I have no idea how to solve. This is something I realized as I was writing it, but the story doesn’t give me any opportunity to introduce it before.

Now, what to do?

Is this novel ready for the rejection roller-coaster? Maybe, maybe not. I had originally thought that the first and second novels would be try-outs and would never see an editor, but why deprive myself of the potential feedback? I don’t even know if this book should go to another round of alpha reading…

Well, I have time to ponder all this, because I have other things to do right now:

  • the second novel : the plot is coming nicely, but I need a fleshier outline before I start writing
  • the short story : I have to complete this (including revisions) before august 23rd ; I have my ideas lying, but no plot for now. Maybe I should discovery-write this and see where it goes? After all, discovery writing is called multi-drafting, so I can afford to toss out entire drafts…  for a short story at least.

I’m tweeting

Posted by arnaud on July 3rd, 2010

I know I’m not the most sociable person (well I didn’t pick up writing without a reason), and I usually don’t like to put myself in front of people. If you read all of these posts, I already gave my diatribe on social networking a few months ago see, but these days, I feel like I want to expand my circle and start to spread the good word around that I might have some interesting things to say.

So, as of today, I opened a Twitter account, where I will hopefully produce more than on this blog. I also opened the options in this blog that broadcast new entries to blog referencing sites : up until now, people could only get here by some pretty lucky (or unlucky) Google searches. Now, there will be more probability to come here : I’d better start to say smart things !

On the first novel front : I painfully edit each chapter. I edited today chapter 21 out of 43. I felt like I had done some real editing there : I cut out paragraphes by the halves, I was happy. Then I looked at the word count : I’m up 2 words when I had hoped to be down 250. Ok, I had to put in some new text to account for one of my alpha reader’s remarks, but still! On the second pass, I will have to try the regular Brandon 10% cut by page, but I begin to have serious doubts as to my capacity to cut anything out of my work.

As I said in the last post, I have two other projects running right now :

  • the second novel’s outline : there, I feel like I have enough material in my head to start an outline. We’ll see where this goes.
  • the short story : here, I have done some research on the subject and feel like I have an interesting angle for a short story. I have now to start brainstorming to see where I can lead this. Let’s hope that I won’t have to revise too much, otherwise, I’ll end up writing 15 000 words instead of 7 500.

Last point : I feel like I need to post on other fields than writing in this blog, so maybe one of these days, you’ll see me rambling here about astronomy, my work, or even politics. Could be funny!

Stay tuned!

I hate editing

Posted by arnaud on June 29th, 2010

As you can guess by now, the editing process has slowed to a crawl. I had intended to edit my chapter per day, but since may 24th (25 days ago), I only managed 19 chapters, and I simply don’t feel as if this editing pass is accomplishing anything. Sure, I correct spelling errors and such; maybe a couple words are cut here and there, but I don’t rewrite whole chunks. Maybe that will come with time, but right now, this first month editing feels like useless work to me. Think that I could be writing something else entirely, and get another story down, if only I hadn’t to edit that one, and that story NEEDS editing, believe me!

What is a poor writer to do?

One bright point : my alpha reader finished the first draft a week ago. I got the final remarks, which were nice (high kudos for originality!). That batch of remarks didn’t expose any huge plot holes, so I’m relieved : only small edits here and there. Funny to see how my alpha reader has an epidermic reaction to one of the characters : “I hope he dies in the end”, I was even told. Well, he doesn’t die, but his fate isn’t very nice, so I guess I delivered on that promise at least.

So, I have to continue my editing… Only one more month to go before I have to start all over again…

And for the next : my next book outline starts to grow – I have the story line from the brainstorming, so now, I need to fleshen the outline. We’ll see how that goes. And I got another project now : I was told that some site wanted fantasy short stories (I won’t mention which site here). I never considered ever writing one (heck, I can’t say anything under 10k words, so I can’t imagine being able to do more than say hello in 7.5k), but if I can pull it off, this would serve as a nice credential on my next cover letter, so I’m seriously considering it. Now, I only have to find a nice story to write…

Editing in progress

Posted by arnaud on June 6th, 2010

As you can judge from the progress bar, the editing process is well underway. I’m currently almost done with the first act, so I get an idea about the editing process and how I’m doing it.

First, I’ll say that I don’t think this editing process is doing what I intented it to be : I had thought that this phase would result in a shrinkage of the wordcount and give me a leaner, yet better manuscript. Well, guess again. At roughly the quarter mark (100 pages / 437), the manuscript has inflated 1k words instead of shrinking 3k! This is because, while I did manage to cut out some fat (including almost a full quarter of a chapter that was unnecessary), I had to include some missing items : some attribution tags and some actions inside the dialog. So, despite what I thought, the manuscript is now (hopefully) better than before, while being longer. This probably means that I’ll need another round of editing to do the massive cutting this novel seriously needs. Ok, I pitylessly squashed the adverbs, but I need to cut out entire passages, I think.

Right, I managed to insert some notes along the way like “do we need to keep this?”, so next time, I’ll know exactly what to cut. I do find that while I’m reading the stuff, I usually can’t find much wrong with it (except typos and some punctuations) : there is something seriously wrong about my internal editor,  I can tell, this book is nowhere as good as that. I hope that by the end of this round, I’ll get to be able to cut out more of my writing (and not say to myself “hey, it’s work you’re cutting out!”), otherwise, I’ll end up taking way more time to edit than to write. Some figures here : I write usually 1k word per day, and each chapter is between 2 and 3k. My editing is currently done at a pace of 1 chapter per session, so one pass should take between half and a third of the writing time. That means that in order to keep my one year deadline, I cannot do more than 3 drafts.

Done with the editing part of this post.

For the other part, I’ve been listening to the “Superstars writing seminar” : succesful authors speaking about the industry. Not much there about the craft itself (well, I have WritingExcuses for that), but a goldmine of information about the economics of writing and such. I can’t say that I agree with all that’s been told (especially in the e-publishing lecture), but it was most interesting. The price is a little high (especially if you take the DVD version instead of the MP3) and the delivery price is way too high (thank you, UPS…), but it was worth every penny (see how I tend to think in british terms?). Definitely cheaper than having to go to Pasadena for 3 days and go listen to these guys live. I hope all this information comes in handy if I ever get published : I now know what sections of a contract to look for, what are the standard rates, and all, so overall, good investment.

Last, but not least, I feel like the ideas for the next book are finally starting to settle : I had some ideas a few months ago about setting end a couple of weeks ago, I got the main concept down. Yesterday, (out of the blue), I started to write a page in the main character’s voice, explaining his situation. This chunk of writing felt very natural : I don’t know why, but for this, I wrote in first person, present tense. As I said a few times, I’m going to try outlining for this book and I found that in order to force myself to outline, this book would be a mystery book, as I don’t know of any other way to try a mystery than outlining. So, I’m writing a mystery, and naturally, I do this in first person, present tense. That’s interesting, don’t you think? Ok, the first person maybe a little cliché (“It was a dark and stormy night”-style), but I think it works for this genre. The character (I still don’t know him that well : I only wrote about half a page of concept in his voice) seems to be quirky, so maybe I can do some humor (or satire even) in this book. Should be fun to try.

That’s all for today : tomorrow is monday, I’ll have my new podast. Yeah!


Editing underway

Posted by arnaud on May 24th, 2010

As you can see in the bargraph at the top of the page, revision for the novel has started.

I’ve done the prologue and 2 chapters with varying success : for the prologue, very minor revisions were done, as it’s a chapter that I already revised before, I only had to correct some of the language. I also put some notes in the margin, mainly things that have to be explained later in the book. After revision, I thought that exposition was handled rather well here, so I’m happy.

For chapter 1, I had begun (as with the prologue) by making notes. One of those notes was asking what the hell two big paragraphs were doing here; those were reflexions on the protagonist’s childhood – certainly important story elements here, but nothing really relevant to that scene. The only thing those two paragraphs brought was introducing the character that speaks shortly after them. So, I cut out those two big paragraphs (522 words) and replaced them with a few words after the character speaks. That allows the story to flow more naturally; I’ll have to reintroduce the cut elements later, but for now, that was too much exposition early on.

chapter 2 needed some reworkings also, mainly to show a more human side of the antagonist. I hope I didn’t push too far as for now, his primary objective has been largely sent to the background. I hope that pleases alpha reader who hates this character.


I have to find a more unified way to handle the revision process : 3 chapters done and 3 processes…

One final note : I have done a comparative outline of story elements in each chapter for each of the 4 main characters. I now know where all the story arcs begin and end. The problem now is what to do with all that information? I won’t have to care for that until act 2, but maybe there is a new scene to write somewhere (or several to cut out) in order for the story elements to come together at the right time. We’ll see.

On that note : writing is back!