Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Big Slowdown.

Well, for me, anyway.

I am taking the extra step.  It's not that I wasn't before, but there was a nexus recently where I realized that my books were good enough to pass muster, but that I could make them better.

It wasn't an easy or obvious discovery.  I waffled quite a bit on whether rewriting would improve or detract from the books.  The rough answer is -- if I'm messing with the continuity of the book, it is usually a minus, but if I'm just focused on the rewriting, the words and descriptions and the fleshing out, it is usually an improvement.

Much of it is a matter of timing.  To really benefit from rewriting, I need a minimum of a month away from the book.  When I add in the month or two that it takes to get an editing out of Lara, then a single book starts to take a lot longer to finish.

The problem here is that a finished, polished book doesn't always coincide with when it makes the most sense to approach a publisher.  I've let that timing dilemma go -- the book is everything.  If the timing goes off track, so be it.

The solution, I believe, is to send the book to be edited by Lara in the same timeframe that I need the space for perspective.

The one drawback is that I lose some of the copy-editing polish that I get when Lara finishes off a book.  Instead, I'm using her more as a very diligent Beta-reader.

But I think this works.  First of all, it seems to shape the book enough for me to tackle the rewriting in a straightforward beginning to end process.

At any rate, every book going through this process is going to take at least an extra month or two.

But I think I'm at a point in my evolution as a writer where I need to do this.

While both The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders and The Last Fedora: The Gangster Golem Chronicles, are complete to my satisfaction, with a nice solid editing job by Lara, I've decided to give them one more rewrite just to make absolutely certain that they are as good I can make them.

I think Tuskers III is benefiting from that treatment right now. (It probably needed it more, which is why I'm doing it, but in doing it, I'm realizing how every manuscript could use this extra effort.)  I should have it done in time for it to come out at a nice reasonable 4 to 5 months after Tuskers II.  So that then gives me another 4 months -- that's the frequency I'm shooting for -- to polish TMPDGM's and The Last Fedora both.

It seems like an extreme slowdown to me.  I apparently have any number of books in me, but now I'm focusing on improving the books I've already done.  Not as fun, maybe, but necessary.

And it is "fun" to feel that the books are better than they might otherwise have been.

Looking back, I'm still proud of the time and effort I took to improve Led to the Slaughter.  It was going to be my first real book, and I wanted it right.  I worked with Bren on that book, and tried to respond to her criticisms and I think that book was improved by that.  So was The Dead Spend No Gold.  

I've taken that extra step with TMPDGM's, sending it to Bren, because I feel like this is my most commercially viable book.

Most encouraging of all, though, is how much I think Tuskers III is benefiting from this new process.  This is the first time, really, that I've done what probably is normal for other writers.  Write a first draft, get a good beta read and editing, and then go over the book from beginning to end with a thorough rewrite.

It feels surprising right.

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