Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm not very good at this

I tried to wait two weeks, I really did.

I lasted eleven days.

The first draft was finished on the 14th of December, which means I should not have looked at it again until yesterday. Yeah, that didn't work. I started the first read-through this Saturday past (the 27th) and finished it this morning. Although, if you want to be picky, I did the comment read on the 22nd, so perhaps it wasn't even twelve days?

The first time I go back to a manuscript (mss), I take a look at all the comments I've left myself and deal with those first. For this mss, that meant finding street names for some of the locations as well as double checking some information. Concerning the street names, there's a wonderful map of the city that's recently been released and I used it often for reference. Not only has the shape of Manhattan changed as the city has been constantly re-invented over the centuries, but most of the street names were dropped after the Revolutionary War, replaced with more patriotic ones (Queen's Street, for example is now Pearl Street). I used the original names, so if you, like me, like to reference a map as you read, you'll have to use the above link, not a modern-day map of the city.

So that first pass, back on the 22nd, just involved finding information and taking care of those margin notes. Not really an edit, more of a "filling in".

But on Christmas Day, after all the presents were unwrapped, the dinner enjoyed, the merriment shared, the house quieted and I came upstairs with the intention of putting away boxes and wrapping paper.

And then it called out to me from the depths of my computer. "Look at me," it called. "Come, see what you have wrought."

I caved.

This read is primarily for continuity. For example, I have a minor character who comes in about halfway through the book and has some small action in several scenes. First he was Tommy, then Bobby, then Billy. Mostly in that order, although I did go back and forth between the two B names for a while. Reading it through this time, I decided on Tommy - and made all the appropriate changes.

I'm really not good with character name continuity. When I started, I wasn't sure of the proper address for a Baronet, so I often had people call him "Baronet St. James." Nope. Should be "Sir Christopher." I think I could even get away with the occasional "my lord," although I chose not to. Despite their loyalty to England, these are Americans after all, and it seemed some of the formality might have started to wear off. So those got changed.

Mrs. Galloway (a busybody who has lots of news to bring) was Jane to begin with, then Grace when I learned she really existed. The book is a mixture of real and fictional people, so making sure I stayed true to their names was important. Elizabeth Floyd, our heroine's best friend, for example, is a real person. Her story is partly told in this book (I'm thinking the rest of her story might be my next book - there is a fascinating tidbit about her in the footnotes of history. Don't look it up if you don't want spoilers, though!). But those historical footnotes alternately call her "Elizabeth" and "Eliza". So I made it so our heroine call her by her nickname and everyone else by her more formal name. Or by "Miss Floyd" if they don't know her well at all.

So you can see, the naming conventions alone were enough to warrant a separate read-through just to make sure I got them all. And that's not even including the military ranks of several characters who come and go toward the end!

In the process of this read, I also found places where more action or description was needed. I'm not a linear writer, so now that the story is done, I found the places where a reference could be made that set up something later in the book. Likewise, I found places that needed setting up, and wrote lines or, in one case, an entire new scene that did just that.

The first draft came in a 75,760 words. This second draft (finished this morning) stands at 76,750 words - which is 990 words longer. I took out words, sentences, sometimes entire paragraphs, and added others but the result is a slightly longer novel. At this point. We'll see what happens during the next several passes.

And what's in store for those? Habit words, I think. You can see the original counts in my last post. I'll do a second pass at them for comparison's sake before I start, but I doubt there will be any significant changes.

Off to edit!
Play safe,

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