It’s weird. Really weird, but I don’t have anything that I can—or even should—do to my book, and that’s because I’ve sent it to a few beta readers. While I still have 1,000 more words to cut, I need to let it sit before I go through it for what is probably the 50th time.
And with that last pass, I was pretty pleased with it. I feel like it’s close, but as I mentioned last week, no one but my trusted critique partner has seen 70 or so percent of it, so now it’s time to find out what some other people think.
Until I hear back from them, there’s nothing I can do. I don’t want to make any changes, not even axing a few unnecessary words, because the betas might find a major problem or have some excellent comments and suggestions. I want to be able to consider their feedback working from the same manuscript they’re commenting on.
Like I said, it’s weird. For three years, there hasn’t been a single day when there wasn’t something I could work on. From writing it to editing it to refining it to trimming it down, there has always been something to do. Even when I thought I was finished two years ago, I was working on the second half of the story (what I thought then would be a second book).
I got yelled at on Twitter for not having updated my blog since…July. That was in October, and here it is November, so I might be doing this wrong.
Never you mind! Onwards and upwards! Storm the castle! Hip! Hip! Hooey! No time like the present, said Bryan. Never.
So what have I been doing with my time? Lots. And lots.
For one thing, I’ve been tink, tink, tinkering away at my manuscript. Back in July, I mentioned I was done, but had 35,000 words to cut. since then, I’ve added another 3,000 words in the process of rewriting and honing the ending, but I’ve cut a net of 36,300 words, leaving me at 121,699 words as of right now. If you remember, my goal is an even 120,000 words, or less.
I finished writing my novel last night. I should say that I finished writing it again, because technically I thought I finished it about a year ago. This time is different, though, because I finished what was originally going to be the second novel, which means the full story is complete for the first time.
Mason Truman. He has a fork.
There are caveats, of course. The last chapter is only in a first-and-a-half draft state, and the last two chapters haven’t faced the withering scrutiny of my critique partner, let alone my bank of awesome beta readers.
Also, it’s sitting at 155,000 words. That means I not only have a LOT of polishing to do, I have to cut out 35,000 damned words before I can start shopping it out again. In the SciFi realm, no agent will touch a first time author with a manuscript longer than 120,000 words—90,000-120,000 words is the range most will consider.
But, this is a big deal for me. I have learned a lotabout writing during the last two years, and the book I just completed is head and shoulders above the book I thought I finished a year ago.
It seems that I’m inching inexorably closer to that goal. I’ve rewritten the prologue and a completely new beginning to the novel. I’ve pored over the middle, cutting big chunks out of it out in the process, and am so near the end of the story I can taste it.
In fact, I’m 4-6 major scenes away from completing it. Of course, the closer I get to that ending, the slower the progress. I very much feel like the snail in the Monsters University trailer (starting at 40 seconds):
I imagine it’s part of the process of learning how to write a damned book, but I’ve been very interested to see that the closer I get to this (new) end, the more often I scrap scenes entirely and the more often I rewrite from scratch.
In writing, sometimes you just have to get back to basics. I’ve been banging my head against the wall for some time. It turns out that the answer to my problem was pretty simple. In fact, I posted it to my Instagram feed:
Courtesy of My New Dry Erase Board
Something Goes Wrong! Of course! That’s just what I needed. It seems so obvious now, but the truth is it took my friend and fellow writer Dmitri Del Castillo to help ferret it out. He’s great at that sort of thing.
I’ve been working on my first novel, a SciFi book about a PI who gets dragged into something much bigger than he thought. All he wants is to drink his strained-algae coffee, but it turns out he’s going to have to save the world. It’s called The Mason Truman Project, and I’ve bloggedabout itseveraltimes.
I finished the book early last spring, and I’ve been working on refining it off an on since , while I also worked on the second book in the series. I started shopping it out in June, resulting in another raft of fine editing.
I’ve had a fantastic group of beta readers. I’m lucky enough to know lots of very smart folks, and it turns out my mother thinks my book is the bee’s knees. Thanks, Mom!
I’ve also been fortunate to meet some fellow writers, and between the betas and my writer friends, I came to a realization a few weeks ago: I’ve written the book I want to read, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the book I can sell.
There were two problems, the beginning and the ending. OK, those are two huge problems, but let me explain. The beginning of my book is what I think of as a slow burner. The story unfolds organically in a deliberate way while Mason figures out how to get started on the case that gets him entangled with all this messy end-of-the-world stuff that interrupts his coffee time.
So there’s this thing called a blog hop, sort of an informal ring of unrelated sites posting on a related theme. In this case, the blog hop is for writers and the theme is our work-in-progress, meaning the book we’re writing. I found out about it from Diane Carlisle.
As I understand it, the rules are simple:
• Answer the ten questions (see below) about your current W.I.P. (Work In Progress) on your blog.
• Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
The title is a lie, because I am totally stoked! On Monday morning, I got my first request for a partial! That’s publishing speak for when an author is asked to provide anything less than a full manuscript to an agent or publishing editor, and it’s the first possible step towards getting an agent.
Here’s what I sent him:
How can this not get me representation, right?! It’s illustrated!
Here’s how it works. An aspiring author—that’s me—sends a query letter to an agent. As mentioned in previous posts, I began sending out query letters about six weeks ago. This is a long, drawn out process for just about all new authors, and it can take many, many query letters and sometimes years of effort to finally land an agent, let alone a publishing deal.
I’ve been pretty busy for the last few weeks, starting with sending out a new round of query letters. I’ve found five really kick ass agents to start with, with four queries still out there. With any luck, one of them will request a partial or the full manuscript, and I am hopeful.
Interestingly, the third agent I queried effectively wanted everything an agent might want: a query letter, a synopsis, the first three chapters, and a separate bio. Note that a query letter typically has a very short synopsis/description along with a short bio included, so there’s a little redundancy there, but that’s the nature of the beast.
In any event, I mention it because it turns out that writing a real synopsis is frakking hard. Taking a 119,000 word story and condensing it to 3,200 words while keeping some style, voice, and personality in it is just obscenely hard. You have to get all the major ups and downs of the plot, mention all the main characters—but not to many, mind you, and make sure you aren’t leaving anything out.