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mary AT mary-holland.com

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Saturday
Apr042015

Revisions and Editors

After three months of revisions, I sent the finished manuscript to a professional editor. My final version of The Dog of Pel is almost exactly 100,000 words, by Microsoft's Word Count. 340 pages.

For anyone interested in process:

I printed out the entire manuscript, went over it line by line, and wrote in corrections and notes to myself. Sometimes they were very detailed corrections to the text and other times said informative things such as "Rewrite!" or "Expand" or "?". Going to Starbucks was very helpful and caffeine was essential. Well, caffeine is always essential, but the atmosphere helped. The white noise of a coffee shop really aids concentration.

Then I went back to the computer and entered the corrections or changed the troublesome bits. The ending seemed rushed and weak to me. I have an elaborate world with rules and structure and the end as first written seemed a bit 'he waved his arms and magic happened' so I rewrote it.

I rewrote it three times.

Because these changes altered some of the earlier plot, I printed out the manuscript again and repeated the corrections process, trying to catch all the tiny plot details and achieve logical consistency. I double and triple checked the last 50 pages for flow and tone and whatever you want to call it so the characters achieved logical and emotionally satisfying ends, whether good or bad.

I spell-checked the whole thing twice. I also went through my List of Words I Overuse such as 'just', 'thought', and for some annoying reason 'nodded', and removed as many as possible. Sometimes I see my characters as bobble-headed dolls, apparently. I have never put a sentence into a manuscript that said: 'I just thought he nodded' but clearly it is only a matter of time.

I let the manuscript sit for a few days. When I returned to it I changed some sentences. Then I changed them back. Then I changed some more and changed them back. This is my "You Are Done" indicator.

I didn't use a professional editor for either Matcher Rules or The Bone Road. Whatever your opinion of either of those titles, I decided this time to move beyond the criticism and input of my friendly beta readers and send this manuscript to a professional. After some hesitation I chose a woman who I'd taken a workshop with some years ago. She's not a fantasy genre specialist, but she does edit genre. I felt my trust in her professionalism and competency outweighed the narrow confines of genre. 

I won't find out if this decision was good or bad until May 8th. She'll start on the manuscript on April 20. I sent it in early because I could not do anything else with that enormous lump of work and anxiety sitting on my desktop. So it's gone.

Now I have time to clean up a bit around here and work on some other projects. Also, I'm carrying around a notebook with the beginnings of the next book. So far I have a title, the first two sentences, about six character biographies and the beginning of an outline. This is my favorite part. All the possibilities of story, none of the reality of writing it down.

Sunday
Dec142014

The Dog of Pel is Done

The first pass, anyway. Two and a half years of work mercifully not down the drain. It made a nice birthday gift from me to me.

Depending on how you count, it's either 94,000 words if you go by Microsoft Word or 80,000 words using the classic editorial 250 words per page. I prefer the actual Word count. I expect the final version will be over 100,000. There are some sections I need to expand and of course I need to edit, chop, change, clarify, and add more color and life and descriptions. I rushed a bit through the final 50 pages so I expect the last bit to need more work than the first. One of my villains, a nasty treacherous person of unspecified gender, had a very skimpy death scene and I certainly can't let him/her get away with that. More blood! More suffering!

I've a busy week ahead so the manuscript can sit and marinate for a while. The back part of my brain, the part that plots, wants to slide in another character even at this late stage. It's possible but I'm not sure it's necessary; I'll think about that.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas or whichever holiday is the flavor of your choice, and a Happy New Year!

Sunday
Oct052014

Fun in Our Work

Yes, it's been a while since I updated this blog, but give me a choice between blogging and making progress on The Dog of Pel and you guessed it.

I've combed through the existing manuscript, removed, changed, modified, and added all sorts of text, and sent the revised opus off to my beta readers. I'm working on the final chapters and thinking about the END, which is marvelous. Choices have been made. By me. I've made choices, finally, and I must tell you I've never worked on anything with so many possible ways to go. The beta readers (bless them) will tell me if I made the right choices so far, although I was very mean and left them suspended in mid-scene.

For this one, I think I am springing for an editor. A proper editorial critique by someone I respect who gets what I am attempting to do. The manuscript needs it, and several readers have said the others could have used one, so this time around it will get it.

I'm very excited at the prospect. I'm at least three months, maybe more, away from finishing and sending the final product off to an editor, but I'm looking forward to it. Also, I have to chose an editor, get on their schedule, and pay them dollars, but I'm even looking forward to the process.

With indie publishing, if I have to do all the work and wear all the hats, I get to have all the fun. It's only fair.