Okay, so, I actually had a four-day weekend, which was exceedingly convenient.

On Thursday, I finally wrote the last chapter! YAY! It took practically all day, thought it’s not a long chapter.

Then on Friday I went back to the part I was most certain I wanted to cut and deleted a chapter and half. This also deleted a conversation I like, and that conversation may well come back later in a different spot, but for right now, that was a satisfying chance to zap ten thousand words in one fell swoop.

Then on Saturday … I wrote the last chapter a second time. Various things about the first version bothered me, mostly things that boiled down to a lack of intimacy. Both Tuyo and Tarashana end with a brief scene with just Aras and Ryo, and this one ended with a crowd scene. This felt wrong. So I deleted most of the last chapter and did it over, reducing the crowd and finishing the chapter a different way. It wound up 2000 words longer, but whatever. I will most likely fiddle with it some more, but I like it much better now. That also took almost the whole day, even though I kept parts of the original draft.

Then on Sunday I opened the file and gazed at it for a moment. Then, rather than doing anything big — there are two chapters I will probably combine, for example, cutting half the length and avoiding some repetition. That’s what I mean by big. But rather than doing anything like that, I went back to about p. 350, which is where Part II starts, and began re-reading and cutting from there. I’m aiming to cut 1000 words per chapter (more or less). More would be better. (A lot better.) Nearly all the cutting is at the sentence level, though every now and then I find a paragraph or even a couple consecutive paragraphs I can cut.

What I’m doing is refamiliarizing myself with everything, especially the overall flow of events and the basic flow of character arcs. Plus cutting. Once I’ve gone through this process, not only will the draft be shorter (It got insanely long, it really did.), I’ll also be in a better position to do the big things, such as combining chapters and deciding whether to put back in some of the more important deleted material. I can also decide whether I should cut something I like, but that doesn’t contribute the the basic character arcs or plot. This should all be finished by the end of the month, and that’s when I’ll send drafts to first readers.

When in doubt, I will leave stuff in, by the way. Everyone who gets a look at the first finished draft will also get a request to please mark any scenes they think are extraneous or any scenes they skimmed, so it’s possible more cutting will happen on that basis, though in fact generally that doesn’t happen. But it might this time; we’ll see.

A certain amount of skimming is possibly unavoidable. Several times, I compress twenty days or whatever to a page or two. Those transition paragraphs need to be there because those days are in the story’s timeline; they have to be referenced at least briefly. If the reader feels those are unimportant transition paragraphs, that is true, but they can’t be cut. A tiny amount of useful character interaction can take place in scenes like that, but fundamentally, they are unimportant. If you pay attention, I would bet you can spot pages just like that in whatever fiction you’re reading now, unless the whole story takes place in 48 hours or something.

Anyway, after that, I’ll do final revision based on the feedback from first readers. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the book may get somewhat longer again at that point. But my hope is to keep the final version under 1000 pages, which ought to be possible, heaven knows. I’d prefer closer to 900 pages, which is still fairly insane, but not actually that much longer than Tarashana. Anyway, THEN the proofing process, which will involve multiple reads of the paper version before any other proofreaders see it. My actual goal is have it so clean nobody spots more than fifteen typos, though I’m guessing that even if I manage that, most of those will be unique to each proofreader.

Meanwhile! I’m going to put it up for preorder. I may hit the Go button by the end of today, so Tasmakat may be up by tomorrow. It may take some days for Amazon to link it to the series page or my author page or whatever. Sometimes all that takes a bit. I’ll post a link when it’s up, of course!

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6 thoughts on “Update: FINISHED AT LAST”

  1. I’m not a big fan of your cutting too much. Since being immersed in your fiction is so nice, ending the book more quickly doesn’t work for me. That being said, occasionally there’s occasionally a little repetition in your books that could be cut. Maybe sometimes too many filler words, but sometimes I just slow down to admire how beautiful the writing is (the Kuomat book, eg). I will preorder as soon as it’s out on Amazon!!

  2. Congratulations!!!

    (Do you have a certain word count range or threshold in mind for each chapter? I’ve been wrestling with the question of “how long is too long, and how short too short”—mostly the chapter breaks happen fairly intuitively but I do wonder if there are any general best practices.)

  3. Alison, I agree, I have occasionally noted too much repetition when I re-read something of mine. I’m thinking of traditionally published works here and also thinking that maybe the editor might have caught that a little better. But so should I, so I’m trying to make a conscious effort to watch for that now.

    I’m very certain that cutting is in general a good idea for me. This one’s going to wind up really long, and when in doubt, I’ll leave stuff in.

    Mary Beth, I aim for roughly 20 pp per chapter, but with a range from around 10 to 30. As you see, I don’t think of that in words. When I suddenly realize that the current chapter is really long, I scroll up to the beginning of the chapter, look at the page number, scroll down 20 pages, and then start looking for a place that might make a good chapter break.

    Of course sometimes chapter breaks LEAP OUT, but usually not.

    My Random House editor had me cut chapters to about 10 pages because, she said — and I think this is true — shorter chapters produce a faster-paced feel. Again, I just scanned down ten pages and then looked for a scene break that seemed like it’d be an okay chapter break.

  4. That’s too bad, I was hoping I could read some of the stuff that would end up getting cut. :) Like Alison, I enjoy being immersed in your worlds and I like the idea of even more scenes. Although. I’m not sure if that would make me a useful early reader.

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