Saturday, January 20, 2007

At the risk of sounding redundant…

Charles here

Michael’s post (below) hit just about everything I wanted to write about today. He said it first and said it better, but I’m going to jump in and give my take on that Done-sort-of-more-or-less theme.

Most authors I know start off with a quick rough draft that they revise until it shines. As I’ve written here in the past, I don’t work that way. I map out – literally – where I think the story will go* and then write what is often the final product. I agonize over every line and even though I know how I want a chapter to end, if I can’t find the right word, I can’t move on. I know, it’s stupid, but it’s worked so far.

Now just before Christmas I sent in my newest manuscript, Noble Lies. My editor, the inimitable Barbara Peters, sent it back, asking me to make a few changes. No big deal and actually kind of fun. Just as Michael said, I found myself re-reading sections and saying things like, “that’s damn good” and “wow, did I write that?” Naturally I spotted some groaners too – that’s why she sent it back – but since it’s just Barbara (and a few select previewers) that’s okay.

The good news is that I’ve lived with this book for well over a year now and I still like it. Any writer will tell you, read something enough times and you never want to read it again. But so far, after 10+ complete read-throughs, I’m still liking it. Sure, the action’s not as nail-biting as it was the first six times I read it and the jokes have lost much of their sparkle, but I doubt that anyone will ever read it that many times. And if they do, I think they’ll still enjoy it. True, they need to get a life – or another book – but who am I to judge.

So, I’ll read it One More Time, then send it out. In a few months I’ll get an advanced reading copy to preview and read that a few times, looking for typos and other bugaboos that sneak in.

Do I suggest you read my books 20 times?

No.

But do feel free to buy that many copies.


*In my December 24th post I told you all about ByLine magazine. I just submitted an article about how I use map making/storyboarding techniques to plot my books. I’ll let you know when it runs.

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