Tag Archives: editing

What Jammed Up TTB?

I started “Test Tube Beneficiary” on January 13, 2008, by creating a project for it in Scrivener and typing out the basic idea for the problem facing the protagonist, and the solution. I thought it would be fairly short, and relatively easy to write — a nice diversion from the novel when I needed a break.

I finished the first draft on March 22. It came in at 12,210 words, firmly in “novelette” territory, at least according to the categories recognized by the SFWA. After my second pass through it, it dropped to 12,100. After I made changes based on suggestions from Mrs. Unfocused and more of my own edits, it grew slightly, to 12,400 words.

That’s where things stood when I printed it out on April 29, for the final proofread. I went through it over the next couple of days, made a dozen or so picky changes, and handed it to Mrs. Unfocused.

She read through it on Saturday afternoon. When she was done, she asked me a question about the actions of one of the supporting characters. She didn’t understand the motivation of this character, because if he did what I had him do in the story, shouldn’t he also do X? Having that character do X, unfortunately, would have required me to completely change the ending, and would have defeated one of the core goals I had for the story.

The problem was that she was absolutely correct. I had taken a shortcut: to avoid going through a lot of rigamarole that wouldn’t be any fun to write and might be boring to read, I had forced one of my characters to do something completely contrary to his interests, and then refused to carry that behavior through to its logical conclusion. It had nagged at me a little when I did it, but I didn’t think too much about it, and who was going to notice, anyway?

My wife, apparently. It wasn’t until her third reading of the story, but it was obvious once she asked the question that another reader could certainly have the same question the first time through. I had to drag myself kicking and screaming to the decision, but I finally made up my mind that I had to change the character’s actions in the story in order to preserve the ending, which meant writing out the rigamarole I wanted to avoid.

Sunday night I plugged another 800 words into the middle of the story; it’s now at 13,200 words. I now need to go back through it and fix all the places where those changes ripple through, which I will try to get done this weekend.

The thing that bothers me the most is that if this is what I’m going through with TTB, the editing process for Meet the Larssons is going to really, really suck.

Spring Sunday Stats.

Weather in Chicago: warm (mid- to upper 60s) and sunny, the first weekend day in God knows how long with decent weather.

Miles run: 7.85 (according to my Polar RS400), in 1:04:13. That’s my longest run in months. I’m still not running regularly enough, either to keep the screaming heebeejeebees out of my brain or to be ready for the Solider Field 10 Miler in three weeks, but I’ll get there.

What I played on my iPod Mini during the run: Seventh Son, Book One – Descent, by J.C. Hutchins, Chapter 16 and part of Chapter 17.

Words written on Meet the Larssons this weekend: As one of the characters in Seventh Son says, “Two words: Jack and shit.” A combination of distractions, nice weather, actual legal work for which I am paid, a sudden realization that I needed to add a scene to Test Tube Beneficiary before it could be called done, and suddenly the weekend is over. I’m traveling to California for business tomorrow, which means I may have time to get a couple of hours of uninterrupted writing, or quite possibly, none at all.

Short stories submitted to professional markets: Umm, none. The edit formerly known as “final” is done, on paper, and just needs to be typed in. The problem is that the new scene has almost certainly generated changes that ripple through the rest of the story, which means that I need to do one more edit. Damn, damn, damn. Damn.

Hours of fun with the kids: Around 7 today. Junior and I were on our own all morning, and then all four of us spent the late afternoon in the backyard, before dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Unfocused Girl and I worked on the tae kwon do form for our yellow belt test, coming up at the end of this session of classes at the Y, and Mrs. Unfocused joined in, while Junior held up a pad and demanded that we all punch it. All in all, a pretty darn good day. Yesterday was pretty good, too. I love spring.

If I Hate Editing So Much, Why Am I Doing So Much of It?

I took my fourth — and what I think is my last — pass through TTB today and dumped it on Mrs. Unfocused for a final proofread. Once she’s done with that (or sooner, if she tells me she can’t stand to read it again), I’m going to type in the changes and send it out. I think I’ve caught all the typos, tied off the loose ends, cut what could be cut and added what needed to be added, and I am thoroughly sick of the whole process (thus my prior post, I Hate Editing and I Must Be Almost Done Editing), so any further revision would just be pointless mutilation. Which I am wholeheartedly against.

I now have the final title for TTB, and have kissed the working title of “Test Tube Beneficiary” good-bye; I got the title right last night, after trying several that were just awful.

I had to stop myself on several occasions today from making picky word choice edits and just stick to fixing glaring errors. How much editing is too much? The answer, at least for this story: one more minute than I have spent so far.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

I just cut about a thousand words from Meet the Larssons, because I realized that I did something to one of the main characters that either I shouldn’t have done, or shouldn’t have done yet. So I moved the original versions of the last two chapters I’d written (Chapters 23 and 24) into the Research folder of my Scrivener project file, and copied them back to salvage what I can (which, thankfully, is most of Chapter 23 and about half of Chapter 24). It’s not that I like going backwards, but it could have been much worse.

I Must Be Almost Done Editing…

because I’m starting to HATE Test Tube Beneficiary.  I’ve been through it twice since Saturday morning, marking my changes using Pen and Paper v. 1.0.  I’ll type them in tonight, then print off a clean copy for Mrs. Unfocused to review.  If at all possible, I want to get TTB out the door by next Monday; otherwise, there’s a very real possibility that I’ll feed it to the shredder.

I Hate Editing.

I finished the first draft of Test Tube Beneficiary three weeks ago. I haven’t looked at since, because I wanted to give myself some distance. But it’s time to start editing, revising, and generally hacking away at it to get it into shape for submission. Last night I printed off a hard copy and marked up the first two pages.

Then I fell asleep.

This is going to take awhile.

I’m trying to keep in mind the advice Stephen King (I seem to refer to him a lot, but why not? he’s written a lot of good books) received from an editor who rejected one of his early short story submissions. I can’t find the quote in my copy of On Writing, but 37signals quotes the book the way I remember it:

Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

Enough stalling. Time to get the knife and start cutting. I hope I can use the scalpel, and not the ax.