Friday, May 27, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

There's only one bad thing about reading a wonderful book (or series). It's that feeling you get when you finish, and you go to your bookshelf to pick something new to read, but all the books look "blah" because they're not the one you just finished (even though at any other time you'd say they're gems).

I had that experience tonight when I finally finished Sean Williams' Books of the Change. The good news is that he's written a follow up series called Books of the Cataclysm. I happen to have one of them sitting on my shelf, courtesy of the 50% discount at the local soon-to-be-closed Borders. Unfortunately it's book 3. Not the best place to start a trilogy.

I foresee a bookshop visit happening soon, and money changing hands.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Golden Editorial Moments

Seeing as I'm in an editing state-of-mind at the moment I thought I'd share ten of the best errors I've found during recent or previous editing of my own manuscripts (GPL, MMA or other works-in-progress). They are in no particular order, although my favourite is unquestionably number 10 (mainly because I found it two nights ago).

1) Non POV character's facial expressions are described even though characters are in a pitch-dark room.

2) Characters don't eat for four days but never complain of hunger.

3) A horse gallops for eight hours.

4) Characters don't sleep for two days but never complain of tiredness.

5) The Moon is full twice in a week.

6) An 80 mile journey is carried out in two days (on foot).

7) A major injury is forgotten the next day.

8) Fires are lit effortlessly without tools/implements/matches.

9) The Sun sets in the East.

10) A character uses an axe to chop the leg off a table so the table-leg can be used to try and break through a rusted iron bar (this one might require a moment's thought).

All I can say is how glad I am I caught these!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Milestone Reached

I've finally finished the latest (and hopefully longest) round of editing on the Mapmaker's Apprentice. This is the phase where I hammer out bumps in the plot and also do a first cut at reworking sentences and making the whole thing read better. There wasn't a lot of rewriting, but a few chapters towards the end needed a revamp due to smaller changes earlier in the story (the snow-ball effect). All in all I was pretty happy with how it went.

So now I've printed it out and I have a big wad of A4 paper sitting on my desk. I'm already half way through reading it and there's not a page that isn't covered in green notes (all minor things, fingers crossed). I'm hoping I won't have too many further changes to make but already I'm thinking there's a couple of chapters that could probably be completely removed. Not a bad thing, considering it's about 97,000 words and it's supposed to be 80,000.

My next move is to give it to the small group of faithful beta-readers who read GPL, and get their thoughts. At the same time I'll convert it to an MP3 format and spend a day (somehow) listening to the whole thing. That's one of the best ways I've found to give a form of distance to the work -- having it read by a detached electronic voice and being forced to listen to every word at a regular pace, without being able to skim anything. It's a great way to pick up whether the pace of the story is building at the right rate and whether information is being learned by the protagonists (and thus the readers) in a measured and tension building way. It's also a great way of picking up typos which your eye would normally skim over.

It's so satisfying reaching a point where I can finally hold the manuscript in my hand. It feels like it's been a bit of a tortuous path to get to this point, but I'm glad it's arrived. It makes me just that bit less stressed about that July 1 deadline, which now seems so close! Where does the time go?