Wednesday, 27 August 2014

I'm Editing!!


(That was the sound of the Champagne cork letting fly)

That's about as far as that goes as I can't stand the fizzy white stuff, it can just bubble about and go flat! Besides that, the sentiment is there. I finished my first draft yesterday afternoon, during the very wet British bank holiday.

I've ended up with 81,500 glorious words (glorious, maybe?). I've now got the pleasure of my first edit to whittle the word could down to between 70,000 and 75,000. I've also got to make sure the story makes sense, as I think I mentioned before that there was a change of direction, which I think I covered up successfully, but need to re-read it to make sure. There's also the issue of continuity, I have a feeling there will be bits that make no sense.

That's what first edits are for ... right?  I can't remember where I read this quote, I think it might have been Terry Pratchett:
"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story"
Hmmm, I hope I like reading it!

Final Word Count Going Up

This will be the last word count chart with the numbers increasing, the next ones will have fewer words and negative Word Change values.

I printed out the first draft at work (thanks to my boss for letting me use the office printer!). So now I can sit and read it, edit it, throw it in the bin etc.

(Yes the subtitle is covered over for a more dramatic reveal later)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

ALS #Icebucket Challenge

Wow, what an amazing amount of coverage this charity has been getting recently! It is fantastic to see so many people taking up the challenge, especially the celebrities and to see how many donations have been made to their charity. If you haven't come across this yet, you know for those of you living on Mars or in a cave with no Internet, check it out below:

 ALS Icebucket Challenge

I have to say I've been entertained by some of the videos that are doing the rounds, I'm looking at you Chris Pratt and Donald Faison (hell pretty much everyone doing it). I say pretty much everyone, as some have just done the Ice Bucket dunk with no mention of the charity or the illness they are raising money for, just for some publicity of their own. Thankfully there are plenty of others (about 160,000+ others) who have donated, including me!

I didn't get "called out", why would I, no one knows who I am! Doesn't stop me from donating to a worthwhile charity. Now, I don't know anyone with ALS, but I have seen the impact on those that do have it and like many other worthwhile charities it's just one I've donated to.

Happy dunking everyone!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Aiming High (unintentionally)

Well besides having a pretty crappy end to last week and a sleepless weekend, this week is looking very "up". I had a yo-yo temperature on Friday night and a pretty sore throat, which followed throughout the weekend, followed by bouts of meh and sleeping lots. Finally started feeling normal again Monday, but what a waste of a weekend a bug can be!

Word Counts

Anyway, I had a bit of a revelation yesterday when emailing my publisher. Somehow I had a word count stuck in my head from before I started properly down the publishing highway and it now seems I've been aiming a little high (certainly as an unknown author)!

I'd researched average word counts and for Sci-Fi (which is where I'd put my novel originally) "they" say a word count of around 110k is good (between 90-125k), as there are lots of details to elaborate in a fictional world. Even a Fantasy book is around 90-100k words.

Quote: *
  • Science-Fiction: 90,000 to 125,000 – Encompassing many sub-genres results in a flexibility across the genre that is not often given to the others. Many publishers will accept works in the higher bracket and even beyond. While literary agents are open to submissions far below 90K, they will usually lean more towards those within the requirements because they know the devoted readers of this genre do not mind an epic read. 
My publisher has put my novel into the Dystopian Thriller genre, which is a burgeoning one and not overly mainstream, which I don't mind. I hadn't, however, rethought my original research on the matter and was still aiming for the lofty Sci-fi heights.

Turns out I need to be aiming for 70-75k words for my first novel, for various reasons, which all make sense. You don't know me! I could be writing about the joys of discovering 2 ply toilet paper in a Victorian noir romp (Spoiler: I'm not, but hey, there's an idea!)

The "Up" in all this, is that I'm at around 73k words already, so my "Christmas" target for completing the first draft (and aiming for all those extra words) has suddenly become Thursday Next (ah now there's a book that I'd read 125k words in).

OK, so not quite next Thursday, but I can begin to wrap things up, which I was beginning to wonder how I was going to keep going for another 30-40k words! I'm no longer "aiming" for a word count, the words that go down now will be because they have to be there. All the ones I've written already are pretty good words in themselves and in a pretty readable order too, but there's a cull coming.

(* See a genre word count reference here, by no means definitive!)

First Edit

This will be happening sooner than I thought as well, so will be time to sweet talk my boss into letting me print about 130 A4 pages in the office one afternoon, OZONE anyone?  If I get to around 80k, I can edit that down and I already know of one bit I was never happy with, so that can go.

Does anyone have any tips for a First Edit? I "plan" to consume some trees, use copious amounts of coloured pens and small post-it notes to scribble and draw on the draft. I had thought about just sitting in front of Word and editing as I went, but I think my issue there will be distraction. If it's on paper (I remember doing this at college many moons ago) I can visually see where I've "been" and not keep rehashing the same bit, adding a word, removing one etc. Ideas welcome!

Saying all this, the original target was for February 2015 release, which if I get my arse into gear and edit this nearly completed first draft, might still be on the cards.  It was always flexible, but I was beginning to think at the rate I was working, it would be middle to late 2015.

Anyway, I'm suddenly feeling like the cat that got the cream, but also aware that I need to figure this damn ending out ... and quick!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Website Update

I felt I needed to do a bit of webby stuff yesterday, so have added a cool new feature that allows you to find some famous/well known books with similar word counts to your book or manuscript. At the moment I'm sandwiched between "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" at about 69,066 words and "The Woman Warrior" at about 70,957 words.

You can find it by going to my website and looking under the "Fun Stuff" menu, or following this link.

Disclaimer: The list or word counts has been collected from various sources across the Internet and comprises 166 titles. I don't know if these word counts are actual individual words or a calculation based on pages, average words per page etc.  Either way, it's just a bit of fun!

Oh and my thighs still ache from the bull riding at the weekend!!!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I've found my stall speed

It happens from time to time. Other family things that need dealing with, work, having a family break, they all need doing once in a while. So I've not had a massive progression of the manuscript for Benjamin Sorrow in the last week or so.  It seems like I melted my brain when I was away for my writing weekend.

I have crept forward to 70k words though and am now trying to work out the big "reveal" introducing the main protagonist proper and all that guff.

This weekend was fun though, we went to the Ramsey Steam and Vintage weekend and our 2 year old was beside him self when he saw the steam trains and engines. Got a future in Steampunk and sci-fi all lined up for him :)  For the first time in my life (now I know why I'd not done it before) I went on a mechanical bull! "Grip with your thighs" the woman said. "There are muscles there?" I said the next morning!

I managed a whole 23 seconds the first time, then 25 seconds the second time. Dead proud for a first time, even if I knew deep down that it was a poor time. I held the daily record for all of about 30 minutes. We walked past the machine later and someone had done 77 seconds, so, meh.

Ooh, I had the cover design concepts back from the designer last week. Got a bit of work to do on them, so as soon as I've settled on the design I'll let you have a sneak preview (that's assuming anyone is actually reading this blog?).

A Word Count Update

I did an update on the word count chart after I came back from my writers retreat, but forgot to upload it anywhere.  So here it is: