September 27th, 2007

writing gorey vast reluctance

the morning light is hell at the camelot motel

Well, I've started working through Ink & Steel, and expect to do that until it's time to go to archery. Then I'll come home and do the rest of my VP reading.

This is the hardest and most invisible kind of editorial work, tightening each line of prose and each paragraph until it squeaks. And when I'm done, chances are almost nobody will be able to tell at a glance what I've done, or how I've done it. But the book will be tighter and leaner and read better.

Meanwhile, I am having tons of fun zorching prepositional phrases, unnecessary stage directions, and instances of the word "said." It's nice to know I'm a better prose stylist than I was four years ago.

Also, it's important to remember that this is fun, that my work is play, and that if it isn't, I run the risk of becoming the kind of dire hack who churns out unaffecting fiction by the bucketload.

Actually, some of the secrit projekt side work--which more or less amounts to role-playing, and I'm sure some of you will find it eventually--is reminding me of that. Because it's fun getting to know a character from the inside, talk with their voice and wave their hands around.
rengeek kit icarus

i'd rather be playing peggle, but there you go.

Revisions continue.

Send more gelato.

Well, I've gotten about three hundred words out of it so far. Due date for both books? Nov 1. Did I mention there's a week of VP between now and then? Yes, I will be bringing my laptop. (The guys at Sycamore Hill laughed at me for the amount of time I spent working on the novel there, too.)

Words Word doesn't know: Yppocras, glamourie

Also, I have this ongoing trope of people in bathtubs in these books.

Annnddddd... I know where my next royalty check is going.
rengeek superbard! _ strangepowers

almost got what i want. almost found what i lost.

Okay, to give you an idea of what I mean when I say I'm fussing prose, and the kind of fiddly revision that eats up so much time, here's how it works.

I start with a sentence like this:

Will sat picking at a supper of mutton and ale in the coolest corner of the common room, pages from Titus spread on the table before him and his trencher shoved to the side, the ink drying in the nib of his pen.

And I turn it into a sentence like this:

Will sat picking at a supper of mutton and ale in the coolest corner of the common room, his trencher shoved to one side and Titus spread on the table, the ink drying in his pen.

Doesn't seem like much, does it? But you would be amazed how it adds up. Do that to every single one of the 12,452 sentences in this novel (averaging 11.4 words per sentence, I might add), and you have a much tighter and better-flowing book.

The astute observer will notice that most of the important stuff I did to that sentence was not the trimming, but fixing the line of direction so the evolution of action and description flow more naturally through the movement of the prose.

Yeah, I actually do this with every dratted book. Every time I revise it.

What, you thought it fell out of my head that way?

(Hey, at least I'm blogging about revising. That's like work.)