Done Again, Hopefully

My freelance editor, the awesome Renni Browne, has officially declared my novel, The Darkening Dream, done, and ready for agents!

Now bear in mind that “done” is a highly subjective term, and that as soon as anyone gives me an idea worth doing, I’ll probably do it, and that agents and editors are bound to ask for changes. Which as long as I think the ideas make the book better, is a good thing.

The new version is 5.00i, but this is my ninth full major draft. Woah.

I remember reading Sol Stein‘s awesome book on writing, where he mentioned that The Magician took 10-11 drafts (I was then on my second) and thinking: that’s crazy! I guess not. Totally coincidentally, Renni also edited that novel, published in 1971!

So it’s been a busy week, working only on The Darkening Dream (I’ll get back to my new novel shortly). In the last 10 days:

1. We finishing our big line edit

2. I rewrote the ending again.

3. I read the entire book and made minor mods.

4. Renni and Shannon (her additionally awesome co-editor/assistant) reread the beginning and the ending and did another quick line edit.

5. I went over that.

6. I got back a critique on the beginning of the book, and made some changes based on that.

7. This inspired me to write two entirely different beginnings.

8. We eventually decided the original was better, although I moved a few nice tidbits from the new stuff over.

9. I reread the whole first half of the book, and the ending again, and made some more improvements.

10. On Sunday I rested.

So now I return to the agent game (referrals very welcome), and to the agonizing internal debate about the relative merits of self publishing in the modern (and very rapidly changing) market. And back to the first draft of my new novel (about 25% done).

If any of you beta readers want a copy of the new improved 95,000 word The Darkening Dream, drop me a note.

Beginnings and Endings

The first thing I did after getting my line editing back over the weekend was work on the ending of my novel. Beginnings and endings are so important, and as is probably typical, I’ve changed them a lot.

The ending is important because it’s what has to wrap everything up, and what leaves the aftertaste in the mouth of the reader. But it isn’t going to do you any good unless they get there.

Which brings us to the beginning. So important in so many ways. First of all, agents and editors glance at the beginning,and if it isn’t awesome, they’ll just put it down right there. Second, so do many readers. They browse the first couple pages in the bookstore (or on Amazon), or even if they buy it, if it doesn’t grab them right away they might just move onto to another book. I know I do.

During revision, The Darkening Dream has already had three different beginnings. But I’ve never been totally satisfied with them. I took a new high level crack at rearranging the flow of my story’s first crucial day, and ended up whipping out two new takes on the first ~7,000 words. That puts three beginnings on the table if you include the current draft. Each have their plus and minuses.

Do I start with the violent supernatural event that kicks everything off?  Do I start with character development on the protagonist? How do I introduce my large cast of characters?

Now that I have a couple takes I’m trying to decide which one to pursue. IF YOU’RE ONE OF MY BETA READERS, HAVE READ THE BOOK ALREADY, and are interested and throwing your opinion into the ring, drop me a note and I’ll send you some options 🙂

The good news about my new novel, is that before I even started writing I found a totally awesome place to start the story. I LOVE the start of that book, and so does everyone I’ve showed it to so far. Lessons learned.

On Writing: Yet Another Draft

The good news is that the comments from my Nov 13  draft came back Tuesday and they were very positive, and a lot less extensive than the previous three batches. So hot off an intense 8 day mega redraft, followed by one day of toddler party, followed by a full read in one day, followed by a half day of fixing the things I found in my own read… I did another 2 day mini full draft. v4.60.

I think it’s finally getting pretty close to just needing line editing (polish and smaller scale fixes). One thing about the process, however, is that a bit like a video game before you’ve had the testers pound on it, one is not entirely sure what one has. Sure, I know the book so well I can name every one of my 300 scenes in consecutive order, quote passages, or tell you to the day and version how a scene has evolved. Still, it’s hard to judge the work as a whole without a full read — and I just did one on Monday (plus two full drafting passes since then).

This is why one needs a ready supply of beta readers. Too bad it’s illegal to lock friends in a room with the book and tell them no food until they slide notes back out under the door.

FOR MY PREVIOUS POST ON WRITING, CLICK HERE