The perpetually incomplete novel, which had been stuck near the end of chapter four since November, has finally moved on. To chapter five. A mere stepping stone on its rise to completion but a necessary one. And I must say it feels good to actually see some progress with it. Continue reading
It’s been a bit of a struggle getting back into the writing mind-set, especially coming off five or so months of editing. It’s even harder to stop myself from going back through the previously written chapters and editing them to the nines. I keep catching myself scrolling back to the previous chapters and frowning and furrowing my brow and making corrections. To be brutally honest it is an aggravating annoyance. Continue reading
Seven months. Three revisions. 72000 words. And the novel is finished. Unless I receive a request to change something Seeking Perfection is now complete as far as I’m concerned. It has been quite the experience… spending this much time editing and reviewing and thinking and revising. I know that my short stories should have received this much review but laziness won out back then. Not so much this time. For all intents and purposes this was the longest I’ve ever spent focused on one single piece of writing and actually having something to show for it.
Where to go now… I have no idea. I want it published. I know it’s good enough to be published. The how part of getting it published is a bit of a mystery though. I’ve reached out to some literary agencies here in Canada and don’t expect to hear anything back for two months, if at all. I did learn the very depressing fact that Canada has very few literary agencies. And very few that will take science fiction, or more specifically the Cyberpunk Noir that is the novel. I suppose I’ll wait and see for now. If none of the agencies wish to review the completed manuscript I suppose I’ll try expanding into agents in the States. And if that doesn’t work I’ll try the publishers directly. Maybe. Although if anyone knows of an agent looking science fiction detective stories let me know.
I took the opportunity, today, to review that very first version of Chapter one. The one I posted all the way back in November. Ha… so many corrections were made between then and now that it’s staggering. Mostly minor things, spelling and punctuation and what not. But it’s just one of those things where you look back on what you wrote and have a momentary cringe. It is, I suppose, a nice reminder of where you were and where you ended up. I feel that, as a writer, I grew over the course of the month and a half that I wrote the novel. And grew ever more over the five and a half months that I spent editing it.
So what now? What am I going to do while I try to convince someone to publish what I’ve written? It’s back to work, so to speak. I’ve put off my supernatural themed novel for seven months now. And it’s time to put what I’ve learned over the course of writing Seeking Perfection to actually finish it.
I already know I’m going to have to heavily edit the completed first five chapters. But I’m actually confident that I can finish it by the end of the year. I can see it ending up around 100K to 110K words. Though probably a little less than that. But. Only one way to find out.
The editing process has continued down the seemingly never-ending track of corrections. Although I can see, off in the distance, the finish line. I quickly tackled the third revision which was entirely centered around grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. And there were a lot of them. Oh yes. A. Lot.
But this fourth revision is mostly centered around tightening things up a bit more and making sure the continuity doesn’t contradict itself. I know of a bit of timing that I changed in the third revision, under a sleep deprived brain, that is terribly inaccurate. I also know, from various feedbacks I’ve received, that I need to explain a few things a bit better. But overall I think the novel will be done after this revision. I’ll be looking into how it needs to be formatted to receive my 5 free copies from winning at the NanoWriMo but that’s relatively minor.
From there I’m not sure where to really go. I’ll need to actually put some effort into looking for resources on how to get it published. I’ll be going the agent route I think. Self publishing is all well and good but I’d like more than a dozen or so people to read it before it gets smothered under the deluge of other self published titles.
It’s going to be a bit strange, I think, going from the editing process back into full-fledged writing. I think I’ll be returning to the novel I’ve spent the better part of decade thinking about and revising in my head. It has been cooking for a good long while. Finishing a novel, from start to finish, in a month and a half has actually giving me a bit of a burst in confidence. That now that I’ve done it once I know I can do it again.
While I’m writing about monsters and fate and death, all subjects I have a vast interest in apparently, I’ll be thinking about a sequel to the nearly finished novel. I’ve already got a bit of an idea for where it would go and it would continue the protagonist’s streak of terrible luck and terrible weeks. Much more so than this time. I like the setting, characters, and themes enough to see merit going back for a second time. I also like the style; there is something about a cyberpunk noir that just hits the right points in my brain’s pleasure center. Though it does need time to flesh itself out a bit. But I do know any sequel would need to have more of a focus on the augmentations and the actual sleuthing side of things.
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.
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.
The editing process has been meandering along at a fairly consistent pace. I finished making corrections on my printed copy of the novel a two weeks ago and have been making those changes as well as expansions to the actual document since. Currently the second draft is sitting at 20% completed (chapter 4 was just completed yesterday). I’m estimating that it takes around an hour and a half to go through and make the corrections and changes for the protagonist chapters and about forty minutes for the antagonist’s chapters). I think, if I actually buckle down over this weekend, I may have the second draft mostly finished. It may, in fact, be done before my birthday. After that I think I’ll print out another copy and let Kristine read it over. I also might look at formating it as an epub document so I can read over it on the go.
So far I’ve been able to work towards goals one and three for this revision. I haven’t quite hit goal two as Gwen has yet to appear (but will be shortly). The society theme is a bit tricky to work in and I’ve noticed that most of the observations come from the antagonist. There are a few places where I meant to include bits and pieces from the protagonist but for whatever reason I didn’t. The problem, I believe, is the way the view points are structured. The protagonist’s chapters are a stream of consciousness, essentially, as he experiences and reacts to the events of the story. And every time I consider adding the societal theme to his chapters it feels like it is shattering the pacing. The antagonist’s are more… of an introspective or philosophical debate. Slower, methodical, and are generally the musing of a pseudo-intellectual sociopath’s views on his place in society. Also killing, but that’s a given after the preview of the first chapter I posted a while back.
I’ve also started augmenting the various criminal elements that the protagonist runs into. I don’t know, I like the concepts of hidden blades that emerge from slits in a character’s finger tips, or a single shot shotgun blast from their wrists, or full cyberware embedded in their skull keeping them connected to the network all the time. Some scenes will need to be rewritten and certain events need to be tweaked but I like just getting to play around with these ideas.