And the breather is over

Like I had done after finishing the first draft of the novel I ended up taking a two-week break once I’d finished the second.  I took some time to unwind and clear my head.  To try, and fail, to forget what I’d written to allow me to come back with a fresh perspective.  Then, on Monday, I loaded up the document again and started the third draft.

However, unlike the original editing review I’d just completed this would be more of a… structural review.  Wording and punctuation and grammar are the focus of this attempt; not expanding or contracting the actual story.  I’m treating this as a complete review of every single paragraph; each gets reread minimum three times, if it doesn’t say what I want or a sentence is confusing it needs to be reworked.  I have also come to the humiliating realization that it took me ten minutes to figure out how to spell serene.  That sentence took on a whole new meaning, apparently, the guy looked like an amino acid.

I did forego the printed paper copy this time and I’m especially happy about that.  I’ve found that I can edits twice as fast now that I’m not reading off paper then reading off the screen and contemplating if I can actually read my hand written notes.

I’ve sent off a few eBook copies of the second draft for opinions on the story.  And really pretty much only the story.  I knew, as I sent of the copies, that there were mechanical issues that needed to be corrected.  But those are easy to address.  If the very core of the narrative isn’t engaging no amount of grammatical tweaking is going to salvage it.

I suppose the people I sent the book to are a tad bit annoyed with me by this point.  I don’t think they were expecting as many questions from me as I’ve been asking since, in general, I don’t like talking.  But the general consensus is the first few chapters are good and that’s about it.  Only one person has finished the novel so far, the other have either not started or are still only three or so chapters in.

From my sister, who has completed the book, she said she enjoyed it overall.  She liked the characters and the plot, but did have a few issues with some parts: the girl and the sex scene being to big ones.  And both of which I knew were going to be issues.  The girl… I never settled on an age for her until I’d already written a chapter and a half with her and I’ll need to correct that this time through.  The sex scene… I never wanted to write it to begin with.  And I have to agree with her, it breaks the narrative flow and would be better served as a lead up to act.  It… I guess it’s a jarring transition.  Apparently I just write unsettling things and suspense better than romance.

Her big take away though was that one of the minor characters should be in it more often, since he was her favorite character.  That’s not going to happen since the story obviously isn’t about him.  She found the antagonist to be, in the end, pathetic enough that she felt sorry for him.  The protagonist came off as a grumpy drunk who grew enough to start the process of changing his life.  The side characters were fun, and she liked how the book ended.  So at least it was enjoyable.

She did bring up an interesting suggestion about maybe writing a novel about his first meeting with the protagonist.  There is a lot of action going on, I laid out the general plot in the novel itself already, and drunken cynical Mike was fun to write.  The only thing is that there is no suspense.  You already know that both of them survive and how.

There is also the issue with the title to address… I’ve tentatively changed it from “Perfection’s Trap” to “Seeking Perfection”.  Still not happy with it.  Although I do know I won’t be taking my sister’s suggestion and renaming it to “Stitches’ Super Happy Fun Time Adventure”.  Just typing that out made me feel a little ashamed.


Editing (Continued)

The end of this second draft is nearly in sight.  With two and a half chapters to go I will likely finish first thing Saturday morning, or Friday night if I push myself.  I’m feeling a bit better about the pace I’m going through it, though I think I won’t be making changes on a paper copy next time.  It was nice and all to go through and be able to make notes and corrections in pen, but I’ve essentially edited the novel twice at this point.  I found that, even though I made the initial review, I’ve made many more changes this time as well.

And the edit… I’m not sure.  Things have been fleshed out to the point where I’m happy with it.  Parts are better explained, some thugs are augmented, the killer’s motives are clearer, and the protagonist has a bit of a shift in character.  But… I don’t know.  Parts are stilted and stiff.  I think the next revision is going to have to focus on making the entirity of the novel flow a bit better.

I was experimenting the other day with attempting to create an eBook copy.  I have learned one thing: the best way, at least for this novel, is to export my Google Doc as a html and import that into Calibre.  At least going that route made my chapters actually appear in the table of contents.  Once I get this edition done I’ll probably give out a few copies to some people I know in order to get their feedback as I go through and make my third pass.  Like I said I already know that the prose needs to be tightened (its grown by nearly 4000 words since I started the actual edits), but I need the opinions of other people to make sure the story actually makes sense and is consistent.  I hold to the belief that I’m just too close to the story to be able to be as objective as I should be with regards to the content.  I fully expect to be told that it is a meandering plague of words and that I should feel bad for having typed them in the first place.  But we shall see.