The Artemis Device

I’VE been working on The Artemis Device, or at least trying to. The day-job has again been taking much time, including biting into my weekends, but at last things seem to have calmed down a bit on that front.

Still, I have managed to make progress of sorts. As I’ve mentioned, the first draft typescript of Artemis went off to my copy editor a few weeks ago, then I stepped to one side for a bit to finish the first draft of Smoke & Mirrors. In the meantime my copy editor read the Artemis draft and came back at me with a a couple of suggestions.

As part of this she pointed out that the last third of the story all happens too quickly. Now, on my original timeline, that was intentional. I deliberately paced the story so that there’s a major turning point at about the two-thirds mark, leading into the last third of the book as something of an epic battle happening on three fronts.

But here’s the thing: I realised there’d been a niggle at the back of my mind while I’d been writing that whole back third, telling me the same thing my editor was telling me, but I’d ploughed on and ignored it. It’s all very well saying to yourself, I learned a lesson there—but when the lesson involves trying to remember to listen to niggling, almost subconscious, voices from behind the curtain in the back of your head, it’s not quite so easy to put into practice.

Well, it’s just the first draft, after all, so some major rewriting is not unexpected. The published version of Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia is pretty different from the first draft, for example—it had a lot of stuff that needed improvement. Of course, as a writer I dream of a day when I can write a first draft so polished that it needs only minor edits to get it into shape for publication (and thanks to people like Susanne Lakin I know it’s possible to do that, but easy it is not—it’s a lot of hard work), but right now it’s just that—a dream.

So the work that’s been going on with Artemis over the last few weeks has all been in the form of thinking up ways to make that back third of the story become the back half of the story, without just throwing in junk to pad it out. In other words, that major turning point will happen at the half-way mark of the story (my editor and I agree that what leads up to that point doesn’t need anything like as much work), but from that point there’ll be a lot more new material.

The question becomes, what new material? At first that wasn’t easy to see. But the thing is, as my editor pointed out, there’s a lot of opportunity to expand on conflicts and side-plots based on the back stories of the characters I already have. A couple of the characters began as very much secondary characters, but took on a bit more life of their own as things progressed. I’ve been working on those characters to explore their back stories, and that leads to conflicts and little dramas that I hadn’t even dreamed of in the original story development. There are one or two characters that are just too perfect, and that’s just not realistic. One in particular has a turbulent family background that in the real world would, I’m sure, give rise to a much more flawed and complex character. That opens up some interesting possibilities.

The thought of writing thirty or forty thousand new words is exciting, and at the same time scary. The thought that I might have to dump and burn ten or fifteen thousand words of what’s already there fills me with dread, but if that’s what needs to be done, I’ll do it.

And on that note, gentle reader, it’s time for a late lunch and then to get on with more of this. Until next time . . .

Crazy

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I posted here. Things have been crazy, but I didn’t think they’d been quite that crazy until I looked at the timestamp on the last post. In fact, I can’t remember how things on various fronts stood when I left off, so forgive me, gentle reader, if I’m repeating myself. Again.

Writing

I already mentioned that the first draft of The Artemis Device was sent off to my copy editor at my publisher (a couple of months ago, in fact—where does the time go?) And I had some feedback and I’ll be doing some work on that, which I’m getting into gear for now. Mostly it’s the pacing of the second half of the book, but also some character work that needs doing.

The last time I mentioned Smoke & Mirrors I think I was at the point where I was writing new scenes for about the last third of the book. Good news on that front is I finished the first draft. Yay! So I sent that off to my editor to see what she thinks. Personally I think it’s a sock-blower-offer, but I’m biased. I really hope they like it, though.

So for now, Smoke can sit for a bit, and it’s back to Artemis. Next up on that, re-read and mark up, and see what ideas come to mind to improve the back nine.

Day Job

We want . . . information

We want . . . information

I am currently working on SIX projects—three being foreground projects that are active and I have to juggle my time between them. The other three are background, but when a crisis comes up on any of those I have to jump to fix it PDQ. I’ve been pulling extra hours evenings and weekends (fourteen hours last weekend). I feel permanently exhausted. Man, do I need a vacation.

Until next time, gentle reader . . .