Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hal Spacejock Book 4 progress

I'm not one to post daily word counts (because I have software to do it for me!) but I do like to report on how it's all going from time to time.

My editor wants a copy of the Hal 4 draft on the 9th of July. Right now I have 14 new scenes to write and 28,000 words of existing material to rewrite. (The latter are scenes from earlier versions which no longer fit the current plot, but which more-or-less cover the same ground. Instead of stopping to rewrite them every time I have a brainwave, I just update the summary in yWriter and mark them as Draft - REDO.)

A few weeks back my plan was to write 1000 words a day. Then, the day after I upped this to 2000 per day, I got a case of the flu which addled my brain for a whole week. There's a lesson in there somewhere - i.e. do not give your brain any warning about lots of upcoming hard work.

After the flu I scraped out 1000 words a day for a while, until I got the email from my editor asking for the book. Then I realised I was going to have to up my limit, and 2000 it was. But over the past week I've upped that again, to 3000 words per day. I suspect it'll be 4000 before the end of next week.

I've also found that I'm thinking about the book 24/7 (yes, including my dreams) and that's helping me write it. I'm practically living the characters' lives by this stage, and slipping into writing mode is easy. It also helps that I'm working on the last quarter, where things get exciting, gripping and dangerous. (Those 14 new scenes are ALL from the last 6 chapters, and comprise pretty much the entire ending.)

I've given myself 5 days to write those scenes, and a further week to rewrite the 28,000 words in REDO parts. Then what?

Okay, at that stage I'll have a rough first draft, which certainly won't be ready for my editor. I'll print it all out, about 400 pages of double-spaced type, and then retire to a quiet spot for a read-through with red pen in hand. THIS is where the book really starts to take shape, as I strengthen a few connections, add some foreshadowing and look for parallel or similar events. And while I've tried a number of times, I cannot do this stage on the screen. On the plus side, at my book launches I've been known to hand out signed pages from one of these drafts, including all my scribbled comments, so they don't go to waste.

Apart from marking slow bits, rubbish, mistakes and so on, I also tend to cut the dialogue a fair bit at this stage, looking for every set of four sentences which can be trimmed into two. (You know the kind of thing: A says this, B retorts with that, A has a comeback and B says yah boo sucks to you. If I can turn that into just A then B, it's much tighter and reads a lot better.)

You'll note I've not mentioned spelling or grammar. I'll mark any typos, but this draft isn't supposed to be word perfect. (Typos are about the extent of it anyway - I correct as I write, and never intentionally let anything slip by. My most common error is editing a sentence and leaving a stray word in, or not updating all the parts of it at the same time - e.g. Hal went to grabbed a bucket. )

Okay, the draft is getting closer. It takes about a week for me to read and re-read it until I'm happy, usually going through a new draft each day, and entering all the changes that night.

Then I'll send it off, and what happens after that has been covered in an earlier post ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


Liz said...

This draft isn't supposed to be Word Perfect.

Sorry, couldn't resist (I still think the best one they produced was 5.1).

Simon Haynes said...

I used to sell Amstrad computers in the late 80's, and the beefier ones all came with Word 5. So, I guess you use what you're most used to ;-)

I've been using Corel Draw since version 2, though. Now on v12. (I notice WP is a Corel product.)