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Nose to the Grindstone: Revisions - MoonScape [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
e_moon60

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Nose to the Grindstone: Revisions [Jul. 1st, 2009|09:27 am]
e_moon60
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Since my copy edits aren't here to work on, I've been working instead on the structural revision of the new new book, which for shortness I may call Nameless I because it has no title.  (Nameless II has also begun, mostly as short bits that haven't gathered momentum yet.)

As usual, the main structure seems to be holding together, but there are difficult bits that haven't found their place, and odd gaps that pretty much mark out where a plot-bomb landed on what I was doing and sent me racing off to collect the fragments and stuff them in.   I have pried one foot-bone out from between the story-skeleton's ribs and have it sitting on one side, until I know for sure which foot it belongs to.  The unidentified bone fragment somewhere in the middle is also on one side until I find the other half? third? two-thirds?   I have attached the unattached tendons that were flopping around so that the plot-muscles they were meant to move weren't moving.  (You can't have a meaningful artefact  taken only *partway* to the person for whom it has the most meaning and then have the response as if it had arrived...)

There are oddities: for instance, a chapter I wrote to get inside the head of a character who is a plot-driver but offstage....like Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, hardly seen but always felt.    But I need to know why he's doing what he's doing, and the only way (for me--I'm that kind of writer)  to know that is to get in his POV long enough to understand him. Still--does it belong in the book proper?   Writer-ego says "But it's a beautifully written chapter" and Writer-editor says "But does the reader really need to know this about this character at this time to feel the building menace?"   Not settled yet.   Need to get all the rest straightened out.  If it belongs, the right space will open up into which it fits.  If it doesn't...well, it won't be the first unnecessary and discarded chunk I ever wrote.

Other chores undertaken yesterday include making sure that every POV has its own chapter (editor preference) and then changing the (now incorrect) chapter titles to reflect that.  Final chapter numbers will come with the final version.   This isn't the final level of revision by any means, but if I see an incomplete or garbled sentence, I'll fix it on the fly.  Still knowing the whole sentence might disappear in the next stage.

I tend to work in threes: three major levels of revision, three passes within each level.  So this first pass on structural hopes to locate all the bony parts and get them more or less lined up where they go.  Second pass requires a printout on which I can jot things down and fastens the bones in place, tagging motivational connections.  It should produce an outline (after the fact, the only way I can produce an outline.)   Third pass is usually a breeze, but occasionally I find I've forgotten something that belongs in, or allowed something that doesn't to stay on the table. 

Back to work now.





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Comments:
[User Picture]From: masgramondou
2009-07-01 04:40 pm (UTC)
These nameless books, are they in an exisiting universe? or brand new?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-07-01 04:56 pm (UTC)
All the books I'm working on now are in the Paksenarrion universe. Book one is done and will be out next March; book two just made it through the first draft; book three is embryonic but alive.

If this interests you, there's a lot more about this project at the website and blog dedicated to this story-universe.

http://www.paksworld.com/ has the background information on the world of Paksenarrion, and http://www.paksworld.com/blog/ has updates on how the books are going, and discussions with fans. Most of my posts about the work on progress are over there, but I often mention them here and repeat the links. Oh, and the blog has feeds, if that's something you do.
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[User Picture]From: masgramondou
2009-07-01 05:28 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. That was a bit of a brainfart on my behalf. I realized that they had to be Paks world books sometime after I asked the question. I guess it was because I had thought that Nameless I had been named, I guess not.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-07-01 05:50 pm (UTC)
The second two books have not decided on their titles. I'm going to have to take this to the fencing group, which came up with the title for #1. My working titles, when I have them, are all too long and klutzy. The working title for this one, if I'd ever used it, would've been something like "And you thought you were in trouble LAST time!" or possibly "Find somebody already" or even "Some people are denser than uranium."
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[User Picture]From: gunhilda
2009-07-01 05:56 pm (UTC)
Do publishers have issues with writers posting bits/pieces/chapters/etc. that get cut from books on publically available websites after publishing? If not, you could share the scene with your devoted readers and the effort would not be "wasted" in terms of audience. It wouldn't generate revenue, but it would, perhaps, generate lots of good-will from fans.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-07-01 06:17 pm (UTC)
Policies vary, and the wise writer checks with his/her publisher. I checked this week to find out when I could put up a chapter of the new book, for instance, and was told not until a month before release. Other publishers would let one go up after copy editing, and might allow more to be put up. Some publishers let the writer choose and some make their own selection.

I did get permission to put up the snippets I've already posted and more as time goes on, as long as the aggregate amount (compared to the size of the book) is small. I was told to do disconnected snippets only, not snippets that added up to (for instance) a complete chapter, and not snippets that gave too much away--that were spoiler-heavy.

Scenes not in the book are probably OK, especially after the release date, but I'd check with my editor...the issue is spoilers. Some readers don't care; others really hate spoilers. Just because a scene isn't in the book doesn't mean it's spoiler-free (for instance, the POV section I mentioned here gives away considerable about this character's future plans. I think I've already included one snippet from this section (I really should have started a list of snippets when I posted the first one, so I wouldn't accidentally post the same one twice, or anything else I shouldn't...)

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[User Picture]From: kengr
2009-07-01 08:55 pm (UTC)
for instance, a chapter I wrote to get inside the head of a character who is a plot-driver but offstage....like Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, hardly seen but always felt. But I need to know why he's doing what he's doing, and the only way (for me--I'm that kind of writer) to know that is to get in his POV long enough to understand him. Still--does it belong in the book proper? Writer-ego says "But it's a beautifully written chapter" and Writer-editor says "But does the reader really need to know this about this character at this time to feel the building menace?"

I ran into that with some (unfinished) online fiction.

A character in what I had intended to be a throwaway scene insisted on his story being told. Which meant writing the two stories in parallel.

Not too bad except the best friend of the viewpoint character in the original story wound up as the girlfriend of the viewpoint character in the second story.

So to keep things straight about what happens offscreen with the girl, I had to resort to creating a file (soon to be a set of files) with all her interactions with either character and then fill in with bits about what she was doing. Sometimes just notes, other times, long stretches of dialog insisted on being written.

At least I can mine the dialogue for stuff she can talk to the others about (and to firm up the personalities of the characters she was talking to when they show up in either of the "real" stories.

Oy!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-07-01 11:54 pm (UTC)
Oy, indeed! Characters! They all want to be center stage, don't they? Tell MY story, they insist. ME, TOO says another. And another.
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[User Picture]From: hoosier_red
2009-07-02 01:28 am (UTC)
It's always fascinating to read about your writing process -- not only is it informative, but it's nice to know that other writers will do things that don't actually make it into the book, just to get into the character's headspace.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-07-02 01:37 am (UTC)
The original Paks books produced "side-stories" and "pre-stories" (which I wish I could find--I did save them!) as well as the songs (and in some cases the music, which I don't remember all that well) and a lot of stuff that didn't make it in, not even counting the things that were deliberately cut that I first thought *were* in the story.

It was a very messy production. I still write messily, in the sense of having to write out more than is in the book, because that's how my brain works. I just start, and find out what's really going on as I go. (No matter what I thought was going on.)

Just watched a PBS American Masters program on Garrison Keillor and at one point he said that writing is about discovery...that's certainly been my experience.
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