Tuesday, October 10, 2006

time is a good editor

i've started editing and revising my first draft of the Pale Immortal sequel. Right now it's scheduled for October 2007, but could be moved to September. My deadline is December 1. All the while I was working on the first draft I had some problems I simply could not sort out. Should one character be written in first person or third? what about title? I had a list of a dozen.

very often we don't have time to put a manuscript away for a few weeks, but time is truly one of the best editors. when you spot the problems yourself, you will come up with solutions that are more in keeping with the book. i normally don't have time to put a manuscript away, but this break was forced upon me because of my September schedule. When I looked at it with fresh eyes, I chose the title in a second. About the same amount of time to know my problem character needs to be first person. absolutely. no question.

oh, and i had another puppy dream last night. no breastfeeding though. sorry.


Brett Battles said...

You're right, time is everything. If there was any way to do it, we would all build in several months of down time before our deadline...like that will ever happen.

anne frasier said...

extra time only seems to happen when i've signed with a new house and they already have books slotted so they don't want mine right away. this round of writing was a fluke -- i kept thinking i shouldn't take september off -- shouldn't go to bouchercon, shouldn't do any signings, especially ones that require travel -- but i think the time away will end up working out for the best. normally i take off a week before plunging into the second draft. not the same, because the story hasn't left my head during that time. i've done two weeks -- still in my head. a month is good. but yeah, that's just not gonna normally happen. it's even hard for ME to make myself take that month off. not sure i could do it unless it's forced upon me.

angie said...

Time away does have a way of pointing out problems (and often solutions).

And you SO need to keep a dream journal & do some dream work...that subconscious of yours is working overtime to get your attention about something.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Sometimes a step back for a bit is more productive than plowing ahead full steam, even under a tight deadline.

You're completely right, Anne.

anne frasier said...

angie, maybe the puppy is my manuscript. photo op!!
has anybody ever breastfed a manuscript? :D

sandra, i usually plow ahead, and in the long run i've actually wasted more time. i think the same can be said for immediately shooting it to an editor.

Anonymous said...

Time is so wonderful. The words begin to look like words again.

These puppies are starting to seem a bit sinister. What are they up to, I wonder. What dark plans are they brewing?

Bill Cameron said...

I'm buried under plowing ahead. Three weeks to get my draft done. I'm a slow writer. Oy!

Jaye Wells said...

I've never revised after a break of more than a week. It seems I am always rushing to enter some contest or submit to someone by the time I'm done with my first draft. This time, though, I've decided to wait for a few weeks. There's nothing worse than killing yourself to revise quickly and then reading it months later and seeing everything you missed.

anne frasier said...

jason, i do wonder what those puppies are up to. this last one was only about two weeks old and could fit in my hand!

bill, good luck!!

jaye, what has been really weird and wonderful -- things that i was so confused about when writing the first draft are completely clear to me this time through. there is no wondering if it should be this way or that way. oh, what way is the best? I can't decide! none of that. i look at it and know immediately. that's such a good feeling. i hope you experience the same thing.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I find that even a SHORT amount of time is a great editor. Overnight.

I always go back and look at what I wrote the day before with fresh eyes and it makes all the difference in the world. Things you thought were ready to go turn out to be not so hot -- and fixing them is much easier. At the same time, things you thought weren't so hot turn out to be just fine after all.

Jeff said...

It makes sense to me to set a finished manuscript aside and focus on something else for a while before beginning revisions.
How much time? I think the answer is clear. Obviously, the puppy you're dreaming about is the manuscript. Once you stop dreaming about breastfeeding it (like last night) then you know its been weaned and ready for revisions.

Bill Cameron said...

I was looking over a chapter I wrote before B'Con. I knew it would need a lot of work, but the bones were there. So I thought. Then I realized exactly what a certain character happened to say, and I realized, "Holy shit! That changes everything!"

The question now is do I keep the Holy Shit, put it somewhere else, or excise it completely? I haven't decided if I think it's Holy Shit yet or not. But a little time helped me see it, so I figure a little more time will help me decide what to do with it.

anne frasier said...

rob, overnight works for me when i'm just dealing with line by line stuff, but not as well when it's plot. i wonder if your screenwriting background has taught you to produce more clean copy.

jeff, the dreams started with this edit, so maybe they'll stop when i get the project in the mail! stay tuned! will there be more puppy dreams tonight?

bill, that's a tough one! i'm sometimes backed into a corner by time constraints. which really sucks, but it happens. i might come up with something i want to pursue, but i know i don't have time so i drop it. i think if it's really a time-consuming change you have to ask yourself how much of a difference it will make to the story and the reader. and sometimes i will save it to work in when i get the revision notes from my editor. at that point i might be in more of a mindset to make those changes.

anne frasier said...

rob -- forgot to say i know what you mean about thinking something isn't so hot, then putting it aside long enough to realize it works fine.

JT Ellison said...

I agree about the time and distanc emaking a book stronger. Good ad ice.
Last noght I went to see Michael Connelly and made my rist book purchase in a while -- I've been lucky to get review books, or ARC's from friends, so I haven't been buying a lot lately. But Pale Immortal was on the new release table and I couldn't resist. I can't wait to dive in! And the cover is so damn cool! I look forward to examining your fiction mind, Anne. I enjoy your non-fiction mind so much, the make believe must be fascinating.

Bethany K. Warner said...

I'm so excited about a PI sequel... yay.
Glad the problems revealed themselves too for easier fixes

Helen Brenna said...

I usually have to let things sit before editing/revising. Especially editor revisions. My first reaction to those comments is always, "No way. You don't get it."

Can you tell us your title idea for the PI sequel?

anne frasier said...

jt -- that is so weird that copies are still in the new release section. other people have been telling me that too. the book came out sept 5 and shelf/table space would have been purchased for two weeks max. sometimes that's staggered, so some stores might stock it the first two weeks of sept, others the last. it's fantastic to hear it's still visible!! and thanks for the kind words about my mind. :D i'm always afraid i come across here as a total flake!!

anne frasier said...

thanks, bethany! this is the first sequel i've ever written, and it has been so nice knowing the characters so well from page one.

helen, i'll probably keep the title to myself for awhile. and it could change. i made the mistake of talking about PI way too early on my blog. of course once it was finished there was a period when it sounded like they might not accept it, so i was in bitch mode and came here to vent. i released the video months early because i didn't know if the book was even coming out. hopefully that won't happen this time.

and i so agree about waiting to let the revision letter soak in!!!

Jude said...

I know exactly what you mean. Time away from a project means you return to it with refreshed eyes and mind. And the voice thing- is such a big thing isn't it? I went through a period of really struggling with multiple voices but now I quite like first person- it's so immediate and direct.

anne frasier said...

jude, i was even struggling with first person past or present, but i've decided to mix them. not sure that's accepted, but i think it works best for this story.

emeraldcite said...

I saw a copy of Pale Immortal today.

In Walmart.

I know, I know, we can argue over why I was there and how they exploit low-wage earners without offering decent benefits; but, I have to say that us po' folk has got to get our food somewhere and we just can't afford our local posh supermarket just now.

Anywhoo, there was about six copies there. I was excited to see it in a big chain.

I pointed it out to my wife and said "Hey, that's my friend."

And she said, "Yeah, I know." Because she read Pale Immortal too and really liked it.

Did I mention that she works at a book store and pimps the books we read. Most people don't realize how much influence the local bookseller has over your reading choices... :)

Just thought I'd share.

anne frasier said...

emeraldcite: woot! thanks for the report!

and hey -- i know all about grocery shopping in walmart. i used to do most of mine at the dollar store several years ago. i'm sure that's a healthy diet. :D

and booksellers have such an influence over what readers read. when overwhelmed with so many titles, it's nice to have a bookseller zero in on your tastes and stick a book in your hand. i think the bookseller's role is more important now than ever before.

Kelly Parra said...

It's kind of been like that with my latest wip. I pushed myself really hard to write this second book. I mean, it was really tough. I was stressed and I felt like I was squeezing creativity and inspiration out of a dry sponge, but I final went as far as I could with it. I knew it wasn't at its best, but I couldn't look at it with a fresh eye anymore so I sent it to the editor. That was weeks ago and the letter is coming soon. I think I've been away from it long enough to see it with a fresh eye.

Daniel Hatadi said...

I use time all the time, that's why it takes me so much time to finish anything.

If only we could compress time for specific purposes, or failing that, remove or disable parts of our memory.

I suppose John Belushi would have said: "I advise you to start drinking heavily."

anne frasier said...

kelly, i've often done that. (i liked your dry sponge comparison!) i can't see the story anymore, the editor is waiting, so i send it in even though i know it needs more work.

daniel: "I advise you to start drinking heavily."

wiser words were never spoken.