Update: Finished! For now.

Okay, I’ve done something shocking: I’ve closed Tasmakat. I’m declaring it finished for now.

Wow. It’s been a long, long time since I picked it up on June 14th. Almost exactly six months! That’s an astoundingly long time for a first final draft. Of course, Tasmakat is astoundingly huge first final draft. I got it down to … ready? … 312,000 words. But that was its low point. Over the weekend, I —

(a) extensively revised the final chapter for the third time,

(b) revised the penultimate chapter in order to clarify where various people are, since they’re not present, thus providing a little better closure,

(c) had a thought about future possibilities and went back to chapter 29 or 30 or somewhere in there and added an additional scene,

(d) revised, let me see, I think it’s chapter 42, fairly heavily. Nothing important changed, but the … scenery, I guess … and thus the feel of the chapter changed a fair bit.

(e) rechaptinated the whole thing twice, and I’ll probably reconsider the chapter breaks one more time before Tasmakat drops, because, and I know this is stupid, but I don’t like to end on an odd number of chapters. Rather than 49 or 51, I’d prefer to end on 50. It’s a peculiar quirk, but there it is. I think there are 51 chapters now and I don’t like that, so, as I say, I will most likely rechaptinate as part of the very final revision process. I have tentatively cut the last chapter into three pieces and that’s how it stands now, as three chapters, but I might re-combine two pieces, or possibly all of them. I will have to think about that, and maybe ask first readers what they think.

Anyway, what with all the above, the final first draft length is 318,000 words. That is roughly equivalent to 950 pp, though the page number will drop when I put it into a 6×9 binding, so it won’t look quite as insane as it actually is.

I will just mention here that I cut slightly over 110,000 words during the revision process. I am acutely aware that this would be enough words to make a whole ‘nother novel, except that they were almost entirely individual sentences and scattered paragraphs, not scenes. Even so, that is remarkable. But, I normally do cut about 30,000 for a normal-length book, so three times that for a book that’s three times as long is basically reasonable. For certain definitions of “reasonable.”

I sent it to first readers this morning.

SO: What now?

Well, first, I started At the Feet of the Sun this weekend. I’m sorry, because I know some of you are curious about my reaction, but I do not yet know what I think of this book. My feeling right at this moment is: Impatient.

I’m maybe, I don’t know, let me check … okay, I’m 20% of the way through, and I know one commenter here said they felt too much of the story was two characters trying to define their relationship and that got too angsty and tedious. Well, I’m assuming the two characters in question are Cliopher and His Radiancy, so where the heck is His Radiancy? Fine, Fitzroy, Antorin, whoever, I don’t care, where the heck IS he? Right now Cliopher is on a SIDE QUEST and I am NOT INTERESTED in side quests.

If someone would care to tell me roughly when Fitzroy actually turns up, I would really like to know!

What else?

Well, since I ordered the cover for Tano, honestly, I think I had better write that, and the sooner the better. I am not comfortable with the cover being scheduled for early February and only 30 pages written. I will be aiming to bring this one in at no more than 300 pages, or about 90,000 words at the outside. If it’s shorter, fine. I guess I should say, I’m aiming for between 60,000 and 90,000. Anything in that range. Since I was writing about 64,000 words per month WHILE TEACHING GENERAL BIOLOGY, I sure ought to be about to write the whole thing over Christmas Break plus have time for other things. If I have both a reasonable draft AND a cover in February, I will probably schedule this for release in March. Or maybe April, given the need for repeated proofreading.

Then what else?

I need to revise my SF novel No Foreign Sky. I wrote the first final draft (let’s call it version (a) some years ago. Wow, the file called “No Foreign Sky Original” has a date on it from back in 2016; that WAS a few years ago! Anyway, I then revised it on advice from my agent (version (b)). I think (b) was pretty decent, a decided improvement in terms of smooth plotting.

But then I cut it again because of further advice (version c), and I think that went too far (thanks, Kim, for your feedback! I think a brand-new eye was very useful for this project because by that time I really had a hard time looking at this story.)

NFS(a) is 174,000 words

NFS(b) is 124,000 words.

NFS(c) is 114,000 words.

But then (c) feels too stripped down. I re-read it myself and it really does. Wow, I said to myself, reading through the manuscript. Talk about a fast pace! And while a fast pace is all very well, I do think I lost too much of the worldbuilding. Although I did put in a relationship I like a lot. Anyway, I think what I clearly need to do at this point is open all three versions side by side and re-build the story, keeping the improved plot and the good relationship, but putting back in more extensive worldbuilding.

This is all going to be ENORMOUSLY TEDIOUS and to be honest I do not want to do it. So I had better plan to do it and get it done. I keep putting off ordering a cover, but I should probably go ahead and do that, in order to give myself one more more reason to GET THIS DONE.

And what else?

I’m not sure whether to prioritize this before No Foreign Sky or not, but I think Invictus, the other SF novel, will not be as tedious to finish. And it might be faster. Possibly substantially faster. AND A LOT LESS ANNOYING. So I don’t know! Maybe I should do it first! And I need to get eyes on it. I mean, eyes other than mine. I can’t do final revisions until I’ve seen first reader reactions. Maybe I should even do it before Tano!

I will be picking up a new project today, or if not, then for sure this week.

Also, probably finishing At the Feet of the Sun. Seriously, WHEN does Fitzroy/Antrin/His Radiancy turn up?

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8 thoughts on “Update: Finished! For now.”

  1. Congrats on the Tasmakat milestone! It sounds like you’ve got a busy writing 2023 ahead, I am curious if you have a sense of a release calendar at this point? I am very curious about the SF novels!

  2. I keep revising my exceedingly tentative release schedule — the only solid point is Tasmakat — but here is a possible schedule if everything goes plausibly smoothly:

    March — Tano novella

    May — No Foreign Sky

    July — Tasmakat

    September — Invictus part one

    October — Invictus part two

    December — Silver Circle

    I want to give myself time to finish Silver Circle. Also, I’m going to try to space out releases because judging from certain things that happened this year, I suspect this may have a significant effect on Amazon algorithms. Thus, though it pains me to separate Invictus one and two, I might wind up with a short break between them.

    Lots of things could happen, of course! This is all *very* tentative!

  3. You are getting close to Fitzroy’s appearance. I shall say no more.

    I’m looking forward to seeing some of that worldbuilding you cut from No Foreign Sky. It’s such a cool society—very original aliens. (How _do_ you come up with so many completely different ways for people to organize themselves and get along with each other?)

  4. Thanks, Kim! I have more enthusiasm for going on with the book now that I know that.

    As for the aliens, the deep instincts of the turun are very closely based on African elephants; then you run those instincts forward to see how the society might develop as the species builds a real civilization and becomes technologically advanced. BUT, you are of course right that I strongly prefer people to get along, and also I specifically want to improve things that aren’t great. For the turun, adult males were direly lonely until they could build human families around themselves. Humans are just so important in that society! Of course I was deliberately setting up a “Little Fuzzy” scenario in reverse in the backstory. I actually have a bit of the “Little Fuzzy in reverse” story written. Not much, but I could write it if I wanted to and had time.

  5. Fitzroy shows up at 37%, the part I think you are bored with will be done very soon, and the other big event in between the two was something I found almost as satisfying as Fitzroy entering the story.

  6. Elephants! Oh, interesting! That … that makes so much sense! Definitely want to see more of this society. (Y’all are going to love the turun!)

    I had to look up Little Fuzzy, since I hadn’t heard of the H. Beam Piper stories. The reverse version is a very cool foundation on which to build a human-alien relationship.

  7. The Little Fuzzy books are interesting for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that it’s interesting to compare H Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy to Scalzi’s retelling of the same story. IMO, Scalzi’s is better written at the sentence level, but somehow feels facile and lacking in heart compared to the original. Which is very vague and entirely subjective, but that’s how I felt. As a side note related to Scalzi’s version, SF authors should quit creating alien species with three sexes unless they have thought very carefully about how that evolved. Two sexes is actually almost inevitable right from the beginnings of sexual reproduction of single-celled organisms, for a bunch of different reasons, including for example here:


    So Scalzi declaring that the Fuzzies had three sexes did not help me like his version any better. I grant that almost no readers are probably bothered at all by three-sex species, but I can’t like it unless it’s justified biologically, which it never is. Worker castes as in hymenoperans are different. That’s fine, athough imo vastly overdone.

    I liked Ardath Mayhar’s Golden Dream very much too.

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