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?