One Third

THE editing of Artemis is coming along. Not quite as quickly as I’d hoped—many distractions and interruptions—but all the same, it’s not doing too badly. I had problems with chapter nine, mostly because I marked up a bunch of comments on the timeline about certain things that needed adding—several bits of foreshadowing, mostly, for things coming in later chapters—and then during the actual editing I forgot to refer to those notes, so they didn’t get put in and I had to go back and fix things afterward. Not once, or twice, but thrice. And then when I was editing chapter ten, I astounded myself by doing the same damned thing again, and had to go back to fix that one up, too. It wasn’t as bad as chapter nine, but it still took extra time.

However, as of last night, chapter ten is done and I’ve made a dent in chapter eleven. Given that the entire work is thirty chapters long (at the moment; that might change when I realign chapters to even up the lengths), that puts me right about a third of the way through. And that, I think, isn’t too bad at all.

One thing I’ve noticed while doing this editing is that something like half of the actual edits and rewrites affect just the first handful of paragraphs of each scene. I think I know what’s happened, and it’s down to my writing process. When I’m writing the first draft, I look at a scene description in my timeline, then I think about how to turn that short description into the actual written scene. That thinking time can be anything from a quarter of an hour to several hours, depending on a lot of factors. When I’ve got the scene in my head in detail, I start writing. And I think what happens is that while I’m getting the first few paragraphs onto the page I’m still warming up, and the words aren’t flowing as well as they do later.

I’ve also noticed that I have a tendency to re-cap what’s gone on with the primary character just before the scene takes place. I’ll say things like, “She’d been to see her boss, who’d told her something important”. That’s a bad habit. I didn’t notice this so much during the editing of Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia, but that’s not to say I wasn’t doing it—my editors spotted it, and had me fix it. I guess I’ve learned that lesson, because now it stands out like a sore thumb when I read it. (And bear in mind that the Artemis first draft was written around about the time Gunn & Bohemia had been submitted, so at that time I’d never had the advantage of a professional editor looking at my work; as a result, it looked all right to me. Reading it a couple of years on, it’s most definitely not all right.)

So I now have a new step in my process, which is: when I’ve written a scene, I’ll go back and read the beginning and fix it if it needs it. (One day I’ll write this process down, for my own reference.)

Yesterday wasn’t so great on the progress front; I managed a little bit in the morning but then a whole bunch of other junk intervened and took up most of the day. I wasn’t able to get back into it until the evening (but at least I got some work done then, so it wasn’t all bad). Today, now that those errands and other junk have been done, things are looking a lot brighter. I do have a couple of small jobs to take care of—but those are the work of minutes, not hours, and don’t involve driving all over town like yesterday’s time-sponge.

And so, without further ado, the time has come to switch on the coffee maker and get properly wound into chapter eleven. I’d really like to get four chapters done today—that would get me up to halfway done, which would be a milestone to be proud of—but I doubt that’ll happen. From memory, I think I have at least two new scenes to write from scratch for chapter twelve, and maybe another one for chapter thirteen. All do-able, if I can work without distractions, but the chances of that are slim to zero. On the other hand, you never know.

Until next time . . .

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