Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript

A while back, there was a movie - "Galaxy Quest" - and the main character had a sort of tagline. "Never give up. Never surrender."

That's me and my first novel. I still know it's a damn good book. My CP thinks it's a damn good book. My BRs think it's a damn good book. (See? It's not just me.) True, it has already been through about 30 rejections, but I think those were more a case of my not knowing what the hell I was doing, than about the quality of the book itself.

So, I'm editing it again. Deep editing it again. And while I am going through it line by line, understand that nothing essential is changing about the story. What I'm doing is akin to taking a magnifying glass to the writing and looking for ways to make it better - however minute they may be. I'm making it tighter, sharper, and more succinct. If I've said something in 10 words, I look for ways I could have said it in 8 without losing the style. Sort of a "We have the technology. We can make it better, stronger, faster." The Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript, so to speak. (Heh. If I got six figures for this, I'd be freaking out. I'm not even thinking about seven.)

I'm taking jewelers tweezers and picking out the pieces of lint. When I first finished Spectacle, I wrapped up at 137,000 words. Yeah yeah, it was huge. Then I did the edit. I took whole scenes out and ended up at 129K. I loved those scenes, and I still have them on file, but they're toast. I sat down again and did another edit. 126,000 words. Smaller but still not good enough. So, line by line, I'm de-linting. I've already chopped out 3000 words and I'm only through chapter 5.

Please remember from 137K to 126K took me three years of learning and multiple edits, Not to mention during that time I completed another book, AND wrote a third that just finished it's fifth round of edits, plus I wrote most of the first draft of a fourth. Each step along the way has been a learning process and each has allowed me to improve my craft, which is helping me improve Spectacle.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know most people's first books never sell. I know a lot of first books are crap. If I had even an inkling Spectacle fell into the latter category, I would pat it nicely and put it away. Chalk it up to a learning experience. But I don't have any sense Spectacle is going to fail. I'll keep plugging away at it, and plugging away at my other books until something sells.

Never give up. Never surrender.


Janimé said...

LOVE Galaxy Quest!

Definitely, keep pluggin away! :)

Janimé said...

Read this on msnbc.com today about Harry Potter

Several publishers rejected book

In the beginning, “Harry Potter” simply needed a home. Several British publishers turned down Rowling, believing her manuscript too long and/or too slow, before the Bloomsbury Press signed her up in 1996, for $4,000 and a warning not to expect to get rich from writing children’s books. An American publisher had bigger ideas: Scholastic editor Arthur A. Levine acquired U.S. rights for $105,000.
End Quote

If JK can do it, so can you. :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

=oD Thanks, Jan. You are a peach. I'm not down yet. It'll take a lot more than a few rejections to knock me out.

Besides, the first draft of book 4 is almost finished. And book 5 is beating on the back of my brain to be let out. Oh, and the book after that, while being a little more patient, is still tapping its foot. I can't quit! I have too much work to do!


Alex Adams said...

Galaxy Quest is one of my favorite movies ever.

"They're not minors, they're miners!"

Spectacle is a strong story, while many first novels are not(my first novel was a complete turd). It doesn't suffer from poor structure, waffling, or another other fatal flaws. I truly believe it will find a home :)

Tia Nevitt said...

At least you are writing other books while polishing Spectacle. I spent at least twelve years (I lost count) working on a novel before I finally realized I needed to do something else. Four novels! That's quite an accomplishment!