Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Still working . . .

Did I get my manuscript finished by the 6th, as I had planned? No. But mostly! The thing is a hair longer than expected, and the last 70 pages or so were painfully slow, but I should definitely be finishing up this week some time. I finished the climactic scene yesterday; now I’ve got the tie-up-loose-ends scenes, which I always particularly enjoy, so that should go faster.

During the past three weeks and 170 pages, I’ve also accumulated 28 notes about details to fix. I hate stopping to fix things on the run, as it were, so during the last push to finish a book, I just make quick notes: remember this character should have an accent all the way through the story; just gave that one guy an important medallion, so go back and insert it in earlier scenes; our understanding of this Oressa’s father changed in significant ways through the course of the story, so be sure that works; my conception of the personality of her brother changed, so definitely have to go back and re-do his earlier scenes so he’s consistent throughout. Is there a romance subplot between the two pov characters or isn’t there? Time to decide and, if there is, put it in; and if there’s not, make sure there really isn’t. I’ve always known where the real romance is, so the only question is whether there’s another romance around the edges or not, and if so, is it all in one character’s head or in both? Still don’t know.

Then AFTER dealing with all the notes, there’s the first real effort to cut. It’s 405 pp now; I think the final rough length will be about 430. I’ll want to cut that back to 350 pp or so. That’s about a 15% cut, which certainly won’t be too much. Then I’ll reread the whole thing from top to bottom, cutting on a sentence-by-sentence level, but really reading for coherence and flow.

Then I’ll send the ms. to my brother, with a request to please let me know if in fact I fell down somewhere on coherence — of the world, of the characters, of the plot. If any character does anything or plans to do anything (unintentionally) stupid, Craig will tell me and I will fix it. If any aspect of the story doesn’t make sense, ditto.

THEN I will be ready to send the ms. to Caitlin, my agent, who will send me about a three-page (judging from the past) editorial letter about pacing and stuff. That will lead to the final revision — well, final until an actual editor requests revisions, (I hope)! So that’s when it’s over to my agent. Me, I’ll stick the thing on a mental shelf labeled “not my problem, out of my hands” and forget about it. I’ll have taken breaks while I wait for Craig’s comments and then for Caitlin’s, so when I shelve this ms., I’ll probably be ready to start work on something else.

I’m thinking next . . . the story set in an alternate Ottoman Turkey. But not sure! I could change my mind a dozen times between now and then, and probably will. Got a good idea for a main character from one of Elizabeth Moon’s recent books — might see where that idea takes me instead. Or maybe one of the fifty books on my To Be Read pile will spark a great idea. So we’ll see!

But in the meantime, it’s FINISH THIS WEEK OR DIE.

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