Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Finished! For about the fifth time with this manuscript.

Sometimes the concept of “finished” gets stretched a bit, but still, I have indeed gotten all of THE MOUNTAIN OF KEPT MEMORY revised. It started with two pov protagonists and now one of them has been removed completely and replaced with a character who used to be an important secondary character. And the plot has been adjusted, of course, to make that work. And the plot has also been tightened up in ways that were obvious to me now, even though I didn’t perceive the plot as not-tight-enough earlier.

This isn’t really finished-finished, though. Here are the next steps:

1. Wait a week or so and then reread from the top for continuity and characterization. Oressa is now twenty rather than fifteen and so far I haven’t paid much attention to adjusting her pov to reflect the difference. I have quite a few boldfaced bits scattered through the back half of the manuscript, each of which is meant to call my attention to something that may be out of continuity or ought to be foreshadowed or whatever. I feel like some later scenes may not work, but maybe they do, a re-read from the top may let me figure out which. Also, the manuscript is 132,000 words right now, which is okay — this is adult fantasy — but I expect that the story would only improve if I cut it by about 10,000 words. Every manuscript benefits from a sharp knife at the end, in my experience.

After I do all that, I will once again move this manuscript from the “in progress” folder to the “finished” folder. But even then it won’t really be finished-finished. Next, I will:

2. Send the manuscript to Caitlin and get her take on it. She is especially good with plot and pacing. I like to have a manuscript just as good as possible before my editor sees it, so I will revise according to her comments.

3. Send the manuscript to Navah. Eventually I will then get an editorial letter. I will once again revise the manuscript.

4. Repeat (3), hopefully just once but twice is not unusual.

5. At that point, the manuscript is as close to basically finished as makes no difference. There will be copy edits to go over, and right at the end, page proofs that must be read through carefully because it’s your very last chance to tweak and correct minor things. After the page proofs are sent in, you are indeed finished-finished. After that, the only step is to admire your finished book on the shelves. For MOUNTAIN, that will be . . . I can’t remember. Either spring or fall 2016, with THE KEEPER OF THE MISTS released at the other season.

So, anyway, finished this step of the revision on Saturday at nine pm, which was very satisfactory, because it let me close down my laptop and pick up THE SHADOWED THRONE by Django Wexler. Which I liked a lot, but not as much as the first book. Because . . . I’m not sure. Because political intrigue doesn’t do it for me as much as a military campaign? Because there was more character growth in the first book? Because the first book felt more focused, even though there were almost as many pov characters? Maybe for all those reasons. I liked the new characters very much, but of course every page you spend with some new character is a page you are not spending with an established character. It’s tough when your pov characters start to multiply: we have three important pov protagonists now (rather than two) and three important secondary characters, and that’s a lot, even before you get to the plethora of less-important secondary characters. I would say that THE SHADOWED THRONE does feel like a middle book in a series. There’s lots of good stuff in it, and it is self-contained enough not to be frustrating, but you can see where the story is going to open up again in the next book.

Then I watched — I know I am behind the times here — “Ender’s Game.” I thought it was actually rather dreadful. It’s interesting because it stuck to the book much more than, say “Winter’s Tale,” and ordinarily I would think that would be an advantage, but not this time. In “Winter’s Tale,” limiting and altering the plot created a story that flowed rather well despite the sharp discontinuity in time. In “Ender’s Game,” though we hit many of the important scenes from the book, I felt zero emotional involvement with Ender or any other character. It was as though, in order to fit the movie in two hours, we had about a quarter of each important scene and basically no transitional scenes in between. There was no way to fall into the movie, because the flow was not there. It even lacked visual impact on my tv, though maybe it had at least that on the big screen. Frankly, Julia Ecklar’s “Tin Soldier” song captured the book better in five minutes than the movie did in two hours.

Or that was my take. I’d be curious to know how you all felt about “Ender’s Game.” I’m re-reading bits of the book now in order to clear the movie out of my head. And I will put the movie on the give-away pile, because I can’t imagine I will want to re-watch it. Very disappointing.

Tonight: I could go on with another novel from my potential-Hugo stack, but in fact I don’t like to read one really good book right after another. I enjoy good books more if I put a day or so between them. So I will probably work on a light revision of THE WHITE ROAD OF THE MOON partial so I can send that to Michelle. I would like a thumb’s-up on the partial before I really get into writing the rest of the book. I expect to really start work on that in June. It’s due in September, which means it will be my big project for the summer.

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6 Comments Finished! For about the fifth time with this manuscript.

  1. pete mack

    A. Congrats! I can’t wait to read your next book. I also can’t wait to hear about the sequel to HoS, which I have been waiting for patiently. Watch me be patient. Patient, patient, patient.
    B. While I liked Enders Game as a young teen, I reread it years later and thought it aged very poorly. So I wouldn’t expect much from the movie. Some juvenile books work well for adults. Enders Game doesn’t. (My absolute favorites remain Arthur Ransome.)

  2. Rachel

    Pete, please keep up the patience! I know the H of S sequel keeps being pushed off a bit and then pushed off a bit more, but I *swear* I have 85,000 words PLUS a clear idea of how to finish it. SURELY I will be able to get to it soon!

  3. pete mack

    Thanks! I admit to utter ridiculousness on this issue. As in: it’s ridiculous to expect an author to prioritize one project over another. I just loved the ambiance of HoS–oriental daydreams in the Shadow of the Dragonmount. And yeah, I realize the sequel can’t possibly have the same feeling, since it won’t be based in the same city.

  4. Rachel

    Oh, well, quite a bit of it does take place in the same city, so hopefully that’ll be enough to give the finished book enough of the same feel. But, yes, books under contract with deadlines really have to have priority.

  5. elaine t

    I look forward to the finished MOUNTAIN. Those sound like major changes.
    Of course, I’m looking forward to all your new writings.

    Back when ENDER’S GAME was new I loved it. I never saw the movie, the reviews made it sound bad enough, and I haven’t revisited the book in years because I suspect it won’t have aged well, or that I’ve changed too much.

  6. Rachel

    Elaine, I’m too familiar with the book to tell how well it’s aged. I still like it — but to me, ENDER’S SHADOW has more emotional depth and is actually the better book. I re-read bits of that one, too, and honestly I prefer it.

    Yes, MOUNTAIN changed quite a bit, so much that I kept the original file as well as the revised file — usually I discard outdated versions, but this time it is really a new and different book. I’ll be very interested in what you think of the final version. I think the plot is significantly tighter.

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