My Book is Much Better. Would Endless Delay Improve It More?

I recently put the brakes on the novel I had “finished” because I realized suddenly that I don’t know what the word “finished” means.

I thought it was the novel I wanted to write, but it wasn’t. It was incredibly flawed. I was introducing an author’s voice that I didn’t want to introduce and some of my characters were just flat-out not enjoyable.

I began gutting the work last weekend and have spent all of my extra available energy to right the ship and get the novel back on track. I think I’m succeeding, as far as I can tell.

One thing I noticed is that the more I read my writing, the more I want to change it. It truly is never done. A published book is only the final manifestation of the author’s work before he or she didn’t want to look at it anymore. But what if he or she did, look at it again, that is. Would it even be better?

I suppose the answer to that is ‘yes.’ There is no limit to re-writing and editing. I’m finding phrasing that I find appalling in my “finished” book. What was I thinking? The last time I read it it sounded great to me.

I suppose it has something to do with subjectivity consistently changing. What I think of on one day is completely different from what I think of on another day. Even my vocabulary is in constant flux. It grows, it shifts, it remembers things one day that it forgets another day. Nothing is consistent in the human mind and therefore no novel editing is consistent as well.

I’m glad I’ve decided to re-do this novel. It twill be better for it. Will it make a mediocre novel great? I have no idea. But it will make a mediocre novel better. And that’s all I can hope for.

Of course, if I had the patience of Job, I would re-do it several more times. But I’m not that righteous. So I guess I just have to live with the best I can do. I’m just glad I realized that what I did, was not my best work.

Here’s to learning!

56,000 Moving Parts – Try Fixing That!

As far as I can tell, cars have on average about 14,000 moving parts. Complicated to fix? Yes, I think so. And my car knows a thing or two about having its parts moved around on a frequent basis.

Well, my new novel, The Recluse Storyteller, has 56,000 moving parts. As I’m in the final stages of editing and proofreading, I have become more appreciative of a good mechanic who knows how to diagnose a problem and twist parts around to make them flow smoothing and functionally. Oh, if my mechanic could do the same for the words of my novel!

I’m swimming in commas and em-dashes and en-dashes and strangely worded sentences that makes me wonder what I was doing when I wrote that.

I’m manipulating 56,000 parts with the hopes of getting the exact, perfect combination and arrangement to make readers “gasp” in joy when they read.

OK, I’ll settle for them just not throwing their Kindle against the wall!

A novel is a well-oiled machine. When everything is working perfectly, it flows, and pages whip by like the breeze in a Burmese cyclone. 

So I’m playing mechanic, arranging the parts into, hopefully, a smooth and functional, readable machine. 

Gotta love editing!

Proofreaders … ahh … well, hang on. A little snag.

Remember that cheeky post from the other day, gloating that I was done with revisions and ready to send to my proofreaders.

Well, no, that isn’t happening. Not yet.

Remember that other post I had about the curse of reading my own writing. As I started doing one final read-through before handing it to the proofreaders, I realized that I still had work to do.

So The Recluse Storyteller is getting yet another face-lift. It will be a gentle one without a lot of scar tissue, but I realized that it is absolutely an essential make-over because it is making the story that much better.

When you get to the point in editing where all you worry about are the darn commas, then perhaps you are ready for your proofreader.

But I caught a few snags that didn’t sit right with me and I refuse to push aside nagging snags no matter how badly I want to get the book finished. If I can improve it, I will.

And I am. This makes me happy.

I found some additional wonderful ways to tie the various stories of the storyteller together which add layers of meaning, complexity, and connections that will, hopefully, intrigue the readers even more.

I’m so excited about this book and it is STILL ON SCHEDULE. I built in extra editing time just for occasions such as this.

So at the moment, I’m half way through the manuscript for the umpteenth time. Once finished, I’ll give it a quick perusal and send to my proofreaders, hopefully, by the weekend.

Two months and one week until its release.

Excited!

Done! Proofreaders, get ready.

This afternoon, basked by the warm shade of the palm trees, I finished editing and formatting The Recluse Storyteller – my soon-to-be released second novel.

The release date, barring any unforeseen circumstance, is October 8 – my birthday. What an awesome present I’m giving myself.

I’m really excited about this novel. Very different. Yes, funny, strange, emotional, and unexpected. Leading up to the release, I’ll be highlighting each of the stories that the recluse storyteller tells.

But for now, I want to warn my proofreaders. You know who you are. The draft is coming to you soon, so get your eyes sharpened, and be that nit-picky, 12th grade grammar teacher we all hated.

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Couldn’t make it through the first chapter: The importance of advanced readers

After I finished writing The Recluse Storyteller in the summer of 2012I passed it on to my first faithful advanced reader. I was confident and excited. I liked how the story came together, but I was, of course, a little nervous. You know how it is when you finally expose one of your creations to the outside world. You never know how something is going to come across to the readers until the readers actually read it.

So I waited.

But not long.

First feedback. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t make it out of the first chapter. What’s going on here? I’m confused.”

Massive fail.

But not really. The reader did exactly what I wanted her to do. Gave me real feedback. I listened to the problems that she was having with it, and suddenly, I said to myself “Of, course, this is confusing for anyone who doesn’t live in my mind.”

So I went back to work. I completely revamped the formatting, and, I thought, perhaps, an added prologue which helps explain a few things would naturally lead the reader into the story. Because The Recluse Storyteller is uniquely told. Many different stories on top of each other which all weave together in, I believe, interesting and engaging ways. But if the stories are formatted and laid out in a confusing manner, then who cares? Nobody is going to read it.

So after I made the changes, I sent it back to the reader. She read it again. This time not only the first chapter but also the entire book – and she loved it.

Use those advance readers. Completely invaluable.  When the recluse comes up in a little more than two months, I have several readers to thank for helping me to think it through and bring to the world the final copy.

I’m excited. It’s coming soon!