Today, I finished my novel, The Kingless Warrior, the first book in the Tabard Cain Saga. Over the next few weeks I plan to write more about this Tabard Cain character, but for now, I feel … relieved.
On the one hand, I began this novel the last week of April, which means I wrote it in about six weeks. The novel is about 60,000 words, so that means I averaged 10,000 words a week. Which is just fine with me. On the other hand, this novel really began last August, when I started working on a novel called The Valley of Bones. That novel sent me down a long and winding path that eventually had me realize were my true writerly muse could be found. Furthermore, technically speaking, The Kingless Warrior was begun in mid-March, not at the end of April, but for reasons I explained here, I decided to scrap that first attempt and start over. While that might have been one of the best creative decisions I’ve ever made, it also means I’ve been living with Tabard Cain for about three months, and man, I’m tired of the fellow and his world.
So: What’s next?
A few things.
First, I want to write a short story for the current quarter of The Writers of the Future contest. I have an idea, so it’s really just a matter of sitting down and getting to work. Also, I’d also like to write a short story for the Baen Books Fantasy Adventure Award. Both are due at the end of the month, which means I have my hands full with two new projects for the next couple of weeks.
And, of course, there’s the edit of The Kingless Warrior. A few days ago, when I realized I was on the threshold of finishing the thing, I panicked. What would I do once I finished? Unlike my other novels, I didn’t outline this one. I had only a general idea of what would happen, and much of the story surprised me as it unfolded. I can honestly say I had moments of pure astonishment at what I was writing while I was writing it.
But, still, self-doubt abounds. Can I write this way? Does what I produce in this fashion make any sense? Or do I have a complete mess on my hands? I’ve never tackled an edit this big before. Can I do it?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that left to my own devices, I’d fail. Thus, I plan to try David Hewson’s editing method, which seems to make a whole lot of sense to me.
What is this method?
First, a line edit. I’ll export the novel into Apple’s Pages and read it straight through, fixing the obvious typos, reworking awkward sentences, and make sure there’s sufficient depth of setting.
Second, a content edit. You do this by printing out the novel, going somewhere other than your writing space, and reading the sucker with blue pen in hand. Sure, I’ll mark the obvious mistakes, but hopefully, with a cleaner manuscript than what I’d get if I’d just read the raw first draft, there won’t be so many; this means that I should be able to focus on story flow and deeper elements of the craft. Do my openings grab the reader? Do my cliffhangers push readers forward? Do I have enough scenes? Too many?
Third, a final read, but in book form. There’s a few ways to do this. I can set up Pages to print out a “galley” sheet, and read it like that. I can read on my Kindle. Or I can send it to CreateSpace and order a “proof” to read. The issue with the Kindle is that making any notes of changes is problematic, and the issue with CreateSpace is that the proof costs money. But I’ll worry about this bridge when I need to cross it.
That’s David Hewson’s method, and I think it can work really well for me. I certainly like the idea of doing a line edit first. In the past, I found it nearly impossible to look at the story itself with all the typos glaring back at me. I also think doing a content edit away from the computer, on paper, is helpful, since seeing your manuscript in a different way allows you to catch mistakes you’d never notice. Moreover, I really like how all three edits have a specific purpose: Walking into an edit blindly, without a goal, has never worked for me. And finally, I like that there’s an end in sight. Three and done.
Of course, I’m not going to stop writing while doing these edits. So from here on out, I’ll be balancing a few different aspects of the writing gig.