Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This is what Frodo must have felt like . . .

So, the final lap continues to unroll . . . over and over again. Each time you think you've reached the end, and the credits are about to roll . . . another scene!

I've learned so much throughout this process, one important thing I keep telling myself is that, although this first book might just barely make Not Too Horrible . . . I should get better as I go . . . right . . . ? . . . RIGHT??

So, one of the big lessons I learned most recently was to be very careful with the sentiment "I finished my book!" . . . people like wives and mothers will tend to misunderstand this sentiment almost as much as I did . . . Even though I only meant "finished the first draft" . . . it SOUNDS so final! . . . It's not.

One of the many great pieces of advice I've heard over the years, and something I've had to learn from one artistic endeavor to the next, is that any piece of art is never finished, only abandoned. I later learned, of course, that many folks attribute Leonardo Da Vinci with this quote, although Princeton University begs to differ. Anyway, whoever said it first, it's totally true. There is ALWAYS something you want to change, or tweak, or add . . . but you never have all the time in the world, especially if you are working on a deadline for a publisher . . . And so, in effect, what you are getting when you read any book is the high point (one would hope) of the ebb and flow of a writer's efforts, frozen in time.

That was one thing I learned. Another, from author friends I have been lucky enough to find, is that outside of IP fiction (writing for specific worlds/universes/games), this has been a CRAZY short time to write a book! I mean, _I_ thought so . . . but what do I know? In effect, this has been moving so quickly that all the folks that were going to help me by reading my stuff and getting feedback to me have been unable to do so, because I'm cranking out chapters so fast . . . Even the editor for my publisher has been slammed by the avalanche of words . . . not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Which is something I more experienced than learned from . . . not a lot of learning in this last bit, mostly coping . . . I feel, each time I delve into revision reading, like I'm drowning in my own words. I HOPE there's a coherent story here, but at this point, I literally can't see the forest for the trees. This is why, in the process I've developed, anyway, the outline is absolutely paramount. Because at this point its all I can do to focus on a chapter . . . and I have to trust, if the chapter does what the outline calls for it to do, that the blocks will all fit together in a reader's mind.

And so, as I count down the days to Friday, which is when THIS work of art (if I can use the term liberally), will be frozen in time forever. And at that point it's out of my hands, and then, probably even more harrowing, starts rolling downhill to where readers will eventually catch it, and then it's all theirs. Like it, hate it, find fault with it, accept it . . . my argument is in the words I've already written, so there's nothing more I can do. It's a very nerve-wracking proposition. WAY worse than the most stressful audition I've ever done, actually.

Anyway, back to work. I have just finished combing through the entire book changing every "ok" to an "okay" at the publisher's request. Thank God for the Find feature . . . but unfortunately, you can't just do 'Find and Replace' . . . do you have any idea how many words have the letters 'ok' in them? Well, I do. Roughly 60 per chapter, actually . . .

But that's done, so now I'm free to mow the lawn! Yippee!

Thanks for reading, and on the assumption that someone out there is interested, I'll keep you posted on how the next book goes as well . . . I'm supposed to be working on the outline of that one already, but I don't know how the middle book of the trilogy is going, or what's happening, or where it ends . . . the challenges never cease!

Thanks again, and see you on the other side!

G'night Middle of the Empty Desert!



  1. I'm looking forward to the result even more after reading through your process and experience of writing.

    One question, if you are inclined to answer it. Did/Does the outline you mention line up chapter by chapter or is it more a broad outline of the book where one (or more) chapters fit into what needs to happen to move the story forward? (i.e. does each chapter have a "place" in the outline seperately?)

  2. An excellent question, Nix, and thanks for your interest!

    My outline did not break down by Chapter, but rather by major plot point. I have actually been thinking, as I gear up for book 3, about trying to make the outline for that book be more of a chapter by chapter outline, but I'm not sure how that will work. My outline process is actually pretty elaborate, with a linear bullet point list being revamped into a more dynamic structure after I have the beats in place . . . maybe I'll do a blog post about that at some point . . .

    Thanks again for your interest and your comment!


  3. Hi,
    If you are working to an outline does it take into account the second and third books? Will there be an overall story ark across all the books, or will they be standalone stories?

    Not to horrible will be just fine by me.


  4. Good question, John! We started with a basic treatment of the three books, so a very rough summary. Then Clint and I were responsible for our own outlines. The most challenging thing about the whole process (aside from the mere fact of writing a full-length novel in the first place), has been the idea of meshing a trilogy together written by two different authors who have never worked together before. So I did book I while Clint has been doing book II. Now I have to massage the treatment and notes into an outline for book III, using mainly the book II outline, the treatment notes, and a few emails. It'll be interesting, that's for sure!

    Thanks for your interest, for sure!

  5. Next time you need to find/replace ok, try putting in " ok" and replace with " okay". The space will help wing you past any "ok" combos in the middle of words, but will still get hung up on the likes of Oklahoma. I'd suggest " ok " with " okay ", but the trailing space won't catch any okays immediately followed by punctuation.

    Look forward to reading the book when it hits.

  6. Sorry for the late reply, Nathan . . . but that is genius! I, apparently, am not so much that. I did READ your post, though, and it was very useful! I have since used it on many other occasions as well, tracking down a variety of faults.

    Thanks again!