Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Revised Standard Edition

g'day gentle readers 

On the day of my last post I reached the first of the two milestone (perhaps millstones) highlighted below .


If only I understood 
what it all meant. 
The red bits not highlighted are my attempts to clarify what I think I meant. 

To understand how this happened I must plunge into history for a salutary lesson in how not to write a novel - not slow.

Book 2: FACE  (The Face of the Goddess) started well, with the exhilaration of finishing Book 1: BREAK, which took only a year to write, still fresh in my mind. I had six chapters approx 30K words done when we decided to move back from to Adelaide from Sydney.

We started a 7-day business and the writing slowed to a dribble. At the same time a health issue I'd had since age 10 reared up so I had an operation, we closed the business and my condition steadily worsened but That's Life (my other blog). What I did not understand at the time however was the illness was slowing my mind, not just my body. 



A bookshop on weekends and
a postal agency Monday-Friday
a writer's studio not ever 
The shop had made the writing stop-start but by the time I was free of that my mind was on the blink and the story boldly went where no story should go. I didn't like it,  I chopped and changed, inserted 50K words before the original 6 chapters. 
Several times I stopped altogether to edit and submit BREAK or edit parts of FACE, drew up timelines, character sheets, glossaries, outlines and even managed a few very short stories (published by AntipodeanSF

Then I made one of those pebble-in-the-pond authorial decisions, which ripple throughout a manuscript - I changed the nature and direction of several POV character such that the entirety of the finale, Book 3: ARCH shifts a generation.(my original plan)

I restarted the edit with that in mind, changing as required. Problem was that half the time (due to the earlier edits) I didn't have a clue if a change was required. Try reading a novel at one sentence per fortnight and you'll get the idea. One tends to lose track of who's doing what with whom.

I was working at glacial speed. (pre globally-warmed glaciers of course)
Writing/Editing FACE stretched over a decade. 

Some individual scenes are good, an occasional chapter is not bad but the separate parts do fit together well and the edit of it got bogged trying to reconcile the mismatches. 

I gave up at FACE chapter 105 where it says Full edit to here 

I now ditched the arbitrary chapter divisions, called each POV change a scene, renumbered the lot and started editing from scratch - Book 1 Chapter 1 - tweaking events to produce the new story arc/thread I wanted through FACE and ARCH.  This time I got to scene 99 in FACE where it says Revised edit to here ... and life again got in the way. 

Forward to the Past: Post transplant and life back to normal. 
I wrote Book 3: ARCH in one year. The trilogy was done and now to edit. BREAK took a month. But FACE ah, there's the rub  

So back in the now after a long break and needing to come to grips with the sour tale FACE had become I resorted to a desperate measure * outlining * to integrate FACE into a revised standard edition.

As to said outlining, I'm at scene 23 of Book 3: ARCH past the trilogy's dread sagging middle called FACE. Only in outline mind, the edit is still to come.  I'll try to keep you posted.  

ooroo until next time 
Rob

Monday, January 20, 2014

Out of the Starting Gate

gday gentle readers 

As I indicated last time 2014 has begun and I can now say with confidence begun well

When I left off way back in May last year to do other things like web work and travel I had edited 90% of Face (book 2 a.k.a. "The Face of the Goddess") and I was struggling. When I say left off in May, that was the end point, the dummy spit, after the effort had dribbled off from a weekly edit 15,000-20,000 words to only 1000. 

It's hard now to remember exactly why but it was something like this: despite all my spreadsheets, glossaries and maps I had quite literally lost the plot. I had no idea what the story was about, and remember I was editing a finished work, I had no right to be lost.

So how do I cram the essence of my sprawling epic back into my tiny brain after a long break. I have 382 POV changes over the 3 books, call them chapters: Break 152, Face 120, Arch 110.
  
Last time I tried to summarise the events of each chapter in a spreadsheet but it was too slow, too unwieldy I needed both the spreadsheet and the novel open and synchronised. Read and digest the chapter, transfer the gist of it to the sheet. The problem is me, I get carried away with spreadsheets. I divided the chapters into mini scenes, put in columns for 'characters mentioned' and for 'new concepts introduced'. Filling the columns required research; too slow, too hard, too damn stupid for words.      

I'm trialling a new approach. I saved a copy of the trilogy as at 1/1/2014, set it up in outline using 3 levels of headings for book, part and chapter.(Face has 3 parts - the others have 2) Now simply delete each paragraph that isn't essential 
to the story line 
as I go.  What's left, I cull of needless words and re-arrange as the summary.  This will also serve as an outline for my publishers :^)

The old method took me two weeks to do 24 Kwords. At that rate to summarise the trilogy would take a year, not editing mind just summarising to guide the edit.   

With the method I'm trialling, I did more (27 Kwords) in the first 4 hours.  It's about as fast as I can read and I can already see where changes need to made. Read like this, with an eye for the essence of each chapter, inconsistencies pop out.

addendum

As of this post 20 days later the trial is over I'm using it and have summarised 60% of the trilogy. Book 1 was a breeze, book 2 to date a slog. I've come to the conclusion that little of book 2 is salvageable. (not unexpected all things considered) Cant wait to deconstruct Book 3.       
     
'ooroo until my next post
Rob