Friday, October 23, 2009

Hardcopy Read-Through

Heard this advice a few times. After a thorough on-line proof, went through printed version with a blue pen (red makes me feel like I’m in high school) and did line edits. Interestingly, when reading on paper I found a lot of extra words that could be cut, several typos, and some character voice issues that never stood out reading electronically.

I guess the point is, the advice to read a paper version is good. It resets some part of the brain and helps you to see the words differently.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Status -- October 18, 2009

The skinny:
- Finish ending (2-3 days).
- Clean up known problems (3-7 days).
- Print reader copies (2 weeks)
- ‘life’ delays (1 week)
= 1st reader copies distributed around thanksgiving

Ecstasy and Agony
So close to being done I can taste it. But life has conspired to make sure I have as little time as possible to write, and as much stress as possible to distract. Every time I sit down, I think “Wow, just a few more hours and it is ready to go!” Then a couple days slip by and I still have not reached the end of those ‘few more hours,’ even though I am working on it at least 1 hour/day. So it’s a yo-yo ride at the moment.

Still tuning up the ending. I have written down everything that needs to be there, but much of it reads poorly--expositional dialogue that is obviously the author talking. I’ve moved some of it to a comedic / touching final scene in which we learn that the youngest main character is the most adept con artist in the city, along with some menacing imagery that promises future zombie-adventure. However the scene before that is a BOGSAT -- bunch of goofballs sitting around talking.

That second to last scene that needs to sing before this book goes out the door. You see why I am excited? One more scene!

I should (and likely will) go back and fix a few problems I flagged in the last editing pass...mostly places where the continuity is unclear or the writing not up to par.

Temptation: I have spent some time with hardcopy doing thorough line edits. Two lessons from this: 1) I can cut 15 words from almost every page. 2) A number of errors (typos/wrong word/missing punctuation) jump out on the printed page, while I simply cannot find them reading on the screen. Odd. As a result, I am tempted to do another editing pass in hardcopy. Problem is, this would add another 2-4 weeks, pushing the end out toward the end of the year (yikes). I will probably skip this step for now.

POD Services
Reader copies: All the proofs are in. Unexpectedly, I am leaning toward the CreateSpace version. It has a nicer overall look (cover, paper quality, heft). However, it is about 15% more expensive and I have to scrutinize the user agreement--they pre-assign an ISBN and do some other odd things that might ‘publish’ the book without my consent. This could complicate a later sale of the book. Lulu does not have this problem. CreateSpace also charges $2 extra for $0 royalty books...reason unexplained. My proof copy was at the non-markup price, but if the reader copies are at the marked-up price, that makes them WAY more expensive than Lulu (on the order of +$4/copy), which would also make CreateSpace a non-starter.

The Lulu version is good -- decent cover, crisp paper, clean printing. It’s just not quite as ... finished looking as the CreateSpace version.

That's it for now. Writer's group in an hour--my query & synopsis are up for review. Kind of nervous, but it will do me good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writing Advice: Blending

Here is a tip for all you part-time writers:

As a part time writer, I have to write in fits and starts: An hour here, a half hour there. To be productive, I seldom review old material or outlines during these shorter sessions. Instead I just pop open a file, pick a spot and start writing (sometimes reviewing a scene or two to remind me where I am).

This works well if I have thought about a particular scene, image, character or idea that goes in that area. Often, I will jot down a page or half-page of notes throughout the day, and use these as an outline for that session.

However, these fits and starts lead to a lot of disparate groups of words, sometimes repeating things, sometimes not connecting well to each other.

So, when I have longer sessions, 3+ hours, I will often use them to blend things I have already written. Starting at the beginning of a chapter or section and weaving all the random bits together. This works out kinks and holes in the plot, removes redundant bits, gives language and dialogue coherent feel to the dialogue and wording and sets up a rhythm in that section. I don’t count this as a separate draft, it’s just part of the process I use for each draft.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Status -- October 8, 2009

Tires deflated, starting to pump them back up. Still working through rewrites of the lab sequence. Proofed up to Chapter 49, but 41/42 and 45/46 need significant work--as in tear it apart and reconstruct. This is the kind of work I need a solid block of 5-6 hours to get through, and between family, visitors, and the day job, that simply has not been available. Also lost heart when I saw what a mess this section was. I had expected to find it in good shape, and thought this draft would be done by now. Sigh.

The good news, part 1: Estimating ~20 hours of work left. That is not a lot. The finish line is right there!!! I could get there in two days if I had two days to myself (haven’t had that since 2001 when I was unemployed and single).

The good news, part 2: When I hit chapter 47, it was hard to stop going. The story is fast and gripping (to me at least) and the writing is clean. Also figured out the ending scenes! Though about 5 of those 20 hours are writing and integrating those.

The good news, part 3: Reader copies
Did a test run on a couple print services. The first arrived today, and it looks GREAT!!!! Seeing my book as, well, a book is such a thrill. It’s a long way from being published, but just holding a review copy in my hand is exhilarating--makes it all feel real.

Will post more details on the experience, but I tried both Lulu and Amazon CreateSpace. Set up both versions Sunday. Today is Thursday and the first one arrived...the CreateSpace version (which is odd because they had told me it would be two weeks before it arrived). I am fighting the compulsion to sit down and read it tonight-->have to finish writing it first, right?

From these tests, I will pick one and use it to print copies for my first readers...a collectible for them to keep, and a more lifelike reading experience for them. This route is also far less expensive than photocopying the MS for everyone. Once we get through this process, I will blog about that too to let you know how the readers liked it (or not).

Here is the CreateSpace version: