Thursday, February 4, 2010

[Book Update] An Editing We Will Go!

Just a brief post today because I still feel lousy. This week hasn't been what I'd call terribly productive. And I just found out an hour ago that the kids have a half-day of school today, so it doesn't look like today will be much of an improvement.

My plan for this week was to spend it editing and re-writing. I'm at a mini-milestone: I finished chapter 10 last week, which means I'm into double-digits and also that the book is probably around 25-30% complete. I've taken two chapters to my local writer's roundtable and gotten feedback from them, plus my wife has read up through about chapter 5 and I have her notes as well. Chapters 6-10 have received a lot less re-writing than my early chapters did. All in all, it seemed like a good time to make edits to all ten chapters.

Well, I got chapter 1 done, which is better than nothing, I suppose. I'm going to aim to do chapter 2 this morning. Chapters 3-5 had fairly minimal notes, so rewriting those shouldn't be too bad; I expect to finish them tomorrow. That'll just leave chapters 6-10 which, by and large, I haven't re-read since they were first completed. If the family goes out on Saturday, I hope to be able to get those finished by then. That will position me to pick the story back up on Monday. It could be worse, I suppose - this could have been a week that I entered saying, "Dammit! I'm writing three chapters this week come hell or high water." I usually try not to over-challenge myself with stuff I know I won't accomplish because it's senseless. I prefer to set stretch goals that are attainable with hard work and perseverance. Goals that I won't achieve if I allow myself to take an hour lunch every day instead of a 20-30 minute break, for example. Luckily, this week I set the bar really low, perhaps realizing subconsciously that I was sicker than I wanted to admit.

But to recap:
  • The first 10 chapters are done!
  • I'm very happy with the story so far!
  • The feedback from my readers to the first couple of chapters was generally positive.
  • It feels like I'm spending more time writing when I actually sit down to write - less time on backstory and research and such. I'm hopeful this means I'll be able to pick up the pace soon.
My original tentative schedule called for completing my first draft in March. That was based entirely on guesswork since I had nothing to base it on. I think now that it's more realistic to expect that I might finish it in April at best. I'd guess that I have another 25 chapters to write, though that could easily be off by 50% or more (ie. there might be as many as 35-40 more left. One of the disadvantages of not writing a tight chapter-by-chapter outline is that I just don't know these things yet). On the plus side, my "first draft" will end up being more of a "second draft" if I keep up with re-writing the way I have been. I figure chapter 1 has had somewhere on the order of 8-10 rewrites (some major, most pretty minor) by now, as have chapters 2 and 3. Chapters 4 and 5 are probably a bit less, and chapters 6 and 7 really only got 2-3 rewrites. Chapters 8-10 have each had 1-2 rewrites or less. But as I write chapter 11, I'll go back and work on chapters 6-8. When I move on to chapter 12, I'll rewrite chapters 8-10, and so on. So eventually they'll all get roughly the same amount of attention. I think this process will help ensure that the whole book feels like I wrote it at roughly the same time and that the improvements I make to my writing style as I progress can be retroactively applied to the earlier chapters. It also helps to compensate for my crappy memory, as I can easily see myself forgetting important things that I wrote early-on and not carrying them through into later chapters.

So there you have it - a little insight into the writing process (at least the way I do it. Everybody writes differently). More updates to come and (hopefully) a regular blog article for Friday.

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