Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ah. So THAT’S what revision means.

Well, revision of the first draft of To Drown in Sand is properly underway. While my theme editor, the amazing Chad Horton, performs his surgery, I’m working through each scene with surprise and a sense of wonder.

After following Mr. King’s advice, and not touching or looking at the manuscript since about September (alright, I’m fibbing. I may have tweaked and toggled bits here and there, but nothing committed. I actually dug pretty deeply into the sequel), I pulled out my copy of the book and my red pen, took a deep breath, and flipped open the last scene. I like to rewrite backwards, apparently.

I admit to thinking that the manuscript actually wouldn’t need much.

Which is great. Because, in this case, I’m glad I was wrong.

I didn’t really know what revision was. But after researching it thoroughly, and discovering how critical it is to the process, I’m getting genuinely excited when I start to carve into a new scene.

Why?

Because every page I find myself slicing through with my red scalpel tells me that I’m doing this right. The real way. Necessity for rewrite means it can be improved. And improved means becoming a better writer. And that’s very redeeming.

Observe; page 237 of the manuscript. All my pages looked like this at first, and in my blissful naiveté, I thought most of them would remain so.

page 237 before

Ha.

Same page, after surgery:

page 237 (2)

I am still a little shocked at the amount of rewrite required for each page.

And thrilled.

Same for page 240:

page 240 before

Annnd after:

page 240 after

A lot of pages are so covered in red scars now that they are barely recognizable:

page 316 unrecognizable

And there have been many surgical murdering of darlings. Ouch.

murdered darlings

Rather than seeing my edit notes as an indicator of  how much work there remains to do, or how long the total writing will take (which could be a real drag), I’m looking at clear evidence, in crimson no less, of my writing getting better. Every note is like a gram of writing knowledge in ink; things that I’ve learned since finishing the first draft are adding up in pounds.

The red is FAR more important that the 300+ pages of crisp, black, Courier New.

Like any scar, they are signs of growth and change.

Looking back, my fear came from the same place most of ours do: the unknown. But I really am overjoyed to find myself enjoying this part of the process. It’s exciting. It gives me a chance to sand the edges smoother, and insert slices of art and thought that I know can work better than the version I started months ago.

If there’s a sequel, one can wedge in themes that you know will be incorporated later that weren’t in your head when you first started.

And I’m surprised by how quickly it goes. It’s not really arduous, if you drink lots of coffee, take breaks, and don’t think about things like missed workouts and clocks ticking on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and other waiting markets that might miss your genius if you don’t hurry up. I think that’s all very silly.

Time.

Time creates quality.

So, with my reasonable self-imposed deadline in mind (upload date 3rd week of October, then tests on the platforms, then announce the release on POD and eBook November 2013), I’ll be taking mine.

It’s really too much fun not to.

© 2013 B.C. Laybolt

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Of Revision. (And, how to take a compliment.)

So, Edit copy 2 of my manuscript arrived from my second Beta reader who graciously agreed to provide me with an edited hard copy. Matt is a pretty voracious reader, and cross-genre fan. I actually had reservations about him editing the book, because I was fearful he’d find it too juvenile and contrived.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Well, to be honest, I was blown away.

I am wary of compliments; they usually precede the thrust of a knife in my world.  And, praise is not uncommon when someone reads your work who knows you personally. That’s one of the risks inherent to finding Betas for independent writers.

But this stuff was too good not to share.

It’s not that I think he’s right with some of these; the book still requires substantial revision. I freely acknowledge the potential for friend bias from my Betas, despite my adamant encouragement (at some points, outright pleading), for their ruthlessness.

But perhaps they can prompt some others to take what you think of as a “this- might-be-okay” idea, and run with it.

What happens after that can surprise you.

Super-grateful thanks to Matthew for taking time out of his business life and the manic pace of being a young dad of two awesome kids to edit his copy of the draft.

Joyful Writer Moment 1: Discovering you’ve succeeded at grossing out a veteran horror reader:

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Joyful Moment 2: getting a veteran reader to buy into the dread and suspense one has carefully constructed:

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Joyful Moment 3: After HATING writing a section in which one of your all-time favourite characters is killed, then spend  days polishing it again and again to give the character the final scene he deserves (making you hate it that much more), and then, when its done, and you feel like you’ve bled into your keyboard, you read it one last time, and you realize…

…this might actually be good…

and then your jaded, experienced Beta Reader writes this on your copy (the notebook at the top is to cover a spoiler. Trust me, you really wouldn’t want it spoiled):

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So, yeh,…THAT had impact.

Granted, as hoped, this was not an exercise in adulation; there were several things he found that needed tweaking, and a few of these:

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And some excellent examples of my writing silliness, like when I described a villain’s career that would ‘rise like a meteor’:

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But they were all balanced, in my fragile writer’s ego, by things like:

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And:

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And:

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And:

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What was especially redeeming for me was when he ‘got’ another of my favourite characters:

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So that’s always a good feeling.

Of special value was his response to my name creation system, which produces  sometimes complicated, worrisome names for characters, but they are original  in style:

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Overall, just the shot in the arm for a grey, wearisome winter of pre-dawn mornings spent working on the sequel while waiting for these copies to find their way home.

This and Ademir’s copy makes two returned, with just two to go.

My revision pen is getting itchy and hungry. He requires satiation soon. Perhaps I’ll just putter a bit with their copies, just to get a head start…

In the meantime, I’ll celebrate this milestone, and take Matt’s praise as it reads in red. Hopefully, others will feel the same with the finished version. And, even if they don’t, that’s okay, because all I need to know is that I got it right even just once.

And can get it better next time.

‘Cause that’s why writers write.

Onwards!

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