Sunday, December 7, 2014

I really worked on the book yesterday.

I really worked on Tuskers II yesterday.

Well, don't I always?  Not really.  I try not to let it get to that point.  But sometimes it can't be helped and the only thing that works is work.

Always nicer when it just, you know, comes to me.  God forbid I should actually have to work at it.

Another word for "work" is "rewrite."  I'm not talking about copy-editing, or making small changes here and there.  I'm talking about taking the structure of the book apart and reassembling it.

Just like writing, the rewriting is always different.  Sometimes I can really get into it, sometimes I start to scratch the surface and immediately get immensely bored with the process.

Anyway, I had some ideas that I thought would really improve the book.  More importantly, I needed to change things to make the plot of Tuskers III viable.

So I took a book that was already complete and -- you know, pretty good --and took it apart, and that's a dangerous thing to do.  I have to weigh the improvements versus the possibility of complete disaster.  (Of course, I always save the previous version just in case.)

But I also always feel a great deal of satisfaction when I complete this kind of work, no matter how stressful it is when I'm doing it.  (I've been struggling with these two chapters for weeks...)

For instance, there was a point in Led to the Slaughter when the book was basically done.  There were a couple of niggling things that bothered me, but I was afraid to mess with it.  Then one of my editors came along and pointed out a couple of other things that would help but weren't crucial.  Finally, I convinced myself that since this was the first book out of the gate, I had to make improvements if I saw them.

Of course, things can always be improved, at least for me, because I can make endless changes, but there comes a time of diminishing returns, when it's best to leave well enough alone.

When it bothers me enough -- well, then I have to change it, no matter how much work it is.  So I went ahead, risking taking a good book apart  and trying to make it better, and it turned out well. I feel very satisfied that Led to the Slaughter is the book I wanted.

Rewriting helped the book.  

Faerylander is the best example of that.  I've had something like 15 versions of that book, any one of which I could have convinced myself were good enough.  But each time, I felt there was something off, or something missing.  And sure enough, each time I've written it, I've improved it.  But it still isn't quite ready.  Arggh.

Anyway, I got the two biggest problem chapters of Tuskers II worked  out.  They're still rough, but are more or less there.  I got what I wanted out of them, and now it's just a matter of improving them.

I have half a dozen other chapters that have to be changed, but mostly these chapters just need to be cut down.  These chapters were originally in Tuskers III.  I have a lot of zombie action in them, which can't happen because zombies don't show up until the end of book II.  (Yes, zombie wild pigs...)

Anyway, the only way to deal with working on problem chapters is take them one at a time and keep working on them until they work. It can seem overwhelming at times when you're elbows deep in shit, but you just keep chunking spoonfuls over your shoulder until it's gone.  (Wow, that's an inelegant metaphor...)

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