One of the first steps in my editing process is to upload my entire manuscript to AutoCrit, an automated online editing tool which is light-years beyond all the others I’ve investigated. Not only does it analyze my writing, it’s configurable to help me with my specific bugaboos. Over time it’s helped me reduce those.
Except that’s wrong. D’oh.
As Anne “The Writer’s Process” Janzer posted recently, work from the outside in. Read that at her blog (scroll down to The Cycles of Self-Revision for this specific point.) First, read the book as a book and see if it works, if at a high level, all the parts come together. Then tidy up the specifics.
I’m parking the book for a week and then I’ll read it like a book. Yeah, it should be a month, to let myself forget all the brilliant turns of phrase and unbelievable bits, but this book is nearly a thousand days old and I’m being impatient. It’s also pretty good just as it is, so I’m pushing.
Knowing how closely our emotional and physical health are tied it is no surprise to me that I came down with a vicious cold the week I pushed to finish Rafe Keyn, nor that it continues as I keep working.
My diminished mental capacity makes creativity difficult, but I can still read the printed manuscript and find obvious typos and make other notes as they occur to me.
Eating well, getting my rest and plenty of fluids. I wish those fluids included rye whiskey and a local craft brew, but our water is good and still my favorite drink.
I suspect I’ve spent 800 of those days doing nothing but suffering over the struggle.
Though the battle with Resistance is never won, I have been writing steadily for weeks. There are 16 chapters left to write. That’s not much. Yesterday I realized I’d left a major character hanging in limbo; they walk offstage and simply disappear. It took four short chapters to resolve their story in a way that organically served the larger story, and I wrote it all in a single sitting.
Come November 3, 2018, the 3rd anniversary of the burst of creativity, this book will already be published and selling well.
He looked down the cliff’s face to the water. It wasn’t the distance that concerned him; he’d gone into water from far higher than the 30 feet it looked to be.
No, what concerned him was the dark surface. It might mean deep water.
It might mean shallow water with a dark bottom.
Even deep water could have jagged rocks, old tree trunks, any manner of solid sharp debris.
If you have no choice but to go in, it doesn’t matter whether the water is deep or shallow, or so he told himself. What matters is that you go in feet first. An injury to one or both legs could be survived. Head injuries, out here in the middle of nowhere, probably not.
The first arrow hit the dirt close enough behind him that he heard it, felt a tiny shock in his feet. They would wait until they were close enough before loosing any more.
And as he went over the edge feet first, one foot snagged in the tangle of a tree root sticking out, flipping him completely, holding for less than an instant before he dropped again.
Years ago I wrote a book titled (at that point) Anodyne. It was going to be the first in a series of connected stories each with a different protagonist, each telling their story under the pseudonym Jake Calcutta.
Long before the book was finished an author friend pointed out that the artsy intellectual guy in the book was nothing like the name would suggest. Jake Calcutta, he said, is a modern day Indiana Jones.
He was right.
I changed the protagonist’s name to Jesse Donovan and the book’s title to That She Is Made of Truth. It may become a series, but not in the way originally intended.
Another reason to hold your horses (and wallets.) This is nothing like I’ve ever written before. It is an experimental stream-of-consciousness romantic mystery novella. What’s it about? It’s about 20,000 words oh ho.
My book of short stories, vignettes, and poetry, Undercurrents, should be ready for public consumption in December. It’s being proofread, mostly to confirm that my compilation and formatting didn’t introduce errors.
Some of it is available online, some has been shared with newsletter readers or members of other forums, but this is the first time I’ve created a compilation like this with it all in one place.
Oh, the poetry part? No, I’m not really a poet. There are some bits from long ago, two real poems, and scads of song lyrics which more than one trusted reader has assured me reads like poetry.
It’ll be my first ever digital only book. A stopgap, in fact, to prevent this from being the first year since I started publishing that I didn’t have a book to release.
If it becomes my bestselling book I promise I’ll have it formatted for print, if that matters to y’all like it does me.
I’ve stayed up past midnight 3 nights in a row to finish Stephen King’s 11.22.63. Yes, it’s that good (and that long; nearly 900 pages.)
Not a fan of horror, but this one is fantasy/scifi rather than his usual genre. It has time travel. It’s a historical novel. It has romance. In the end notes it has a nod to Time and Again which I agree with King is the best time travel book written.
One small but vital character interested me because of a parallel to Rafe Keyn and the Temporal Lisle. It seems guardians of time travel are a common idea. I’m giving a little away here, but you can’t read the first few chapters of King’s book and not realize that the yellow card man is going to be more than a bit player, no matter how few lines he speaks.
So there you have it: Stephen King is starting to write like me because we like the same time travel book.
I printed out James’ notes on Jake Calcutta and the Temporal Lisle.
Three pages of small font.
Much of it is rumination in the moment, notes taken as he read it. He had some concerns about this, that, and the other thing, and our usual difference of taste in certain areas.
Today’s task is to go through those notes and determine what needs attention, what could use a little nudge, and what I can leave as it is.
Assuming, after a quick scan, there are no gaping plot holes, the next step will be to write out the story I’ve already summarized for his review. I know, that sounds like oversimplification, but at this point, putting the words down is easy part. If I can maintain my old pace of 3,000 words a day I’ll have Jake’s story wrapped up in a month.
Let’s call it “by end of summer” just to be safe. And sane.
While Jake Calcutta is off getting a sanity check, my oldest work in progress is coming out of hiding.
I’ve written over 30,000 words of Jake Calcutta and the Temporal Lisle, including a 1,000-word summary of the latter 2/3 of the story. It’s all in the hands of my fact-and-sanity checker to confirm that the story makes sense as I’ve planned it. Once James has confirmed there are no plot holes big enough to chuck a cat through, I will finish it up and send it out upon the waters.
While I’m hands off that story, I did an experiment to see which of my possible ideas I should start work on. Led by emotional events of the past six months I chose the coming-of-age story I started January 1st, 2010 (for the mathematically challenged, that’s 7 years, 4 months, 1 week, and 2 days ago.)
I know, the phrase is cuttingtothe chase. But that’s not what’s happening.
Poor Jake Calcutta has been in and out of my top drawer a hundred times the past 6 months. I’ve printed bits and read them, highlighting and underlining. I’ve binder-clipped and folded and organized and shuffled. I’ve enlisted pre-alpha readers.
I’ve ignored it mercilessly for weeks at a time.
A third of the way through, Jake left me. Hid out somewhere in the wilderness of Whatcomesnext and no matter how I coaxed, he wouldn’t talk to me.
Cheryl is the hardest working author I’ve ever met. (And, in fact, we have met, when she drove from Maine to Wisconsin to meet the fam. I was touched and impressed. There was Strongbow Cider involved.)
Her books are good and getting better.
Her comments on my revealing psychological ramblings in the post just make it better.