The biggest argument against putting the word “Cliché” in your title is having to copy an paste it into every blog an bit of social media that doesn’t have an auto-correct feature. I know. You weep for me.
So lets take a step back in time. I wanted to end the last blog post on getting the contract, but a whole lot of work happened before then. The entire time I was waiting for the final contract reflecting all our negotiated changes, I was getting a jump on things. Remember that 26 page contract that was half style guide? Well, the style guide wasn’t going to change and I was pretty sure everything was going to go forward at this point. So I started going through it.
I started by getting a good final of the document. My last official draft had been the 4th, but I was sure I had, at the very least, caught typos when laying it out for self publication. So I started by copying and pasting all of that into one document. I keep draft folders for every book, usually with each chapter as a separate file, so I created a 5th draft folder and I put the document there. Then I started going through the style guide itself.
The majority of the guide was done in the first two or three nights, at two to three hours work per night. That wasn’t the majority of the WORK, but large portions of the style guide can be done either by selecting the whole document with CTRL+A or by running it through Find and Replace.
But a lot of the style guide can’t be automated. For instance, there’s a rule in there about putting the action of one character in the same paragraph of another character, something I have been known to do. There are sections on commonly confused and combined words. Essentially, there’s a whole lot of stuff that takes a full draft of the document to achieve.
Implementing the style guide, all told, probably took me 20-40 hours, spread over a month or so. At the end, you could fairly call the result a new draft.
There was an added wrinkle with this book, however. I already HAD an audio book version. I didn’t know if I was going to need to do rewrites extensive enough to invalidate it, but there was no reason to throw it out unnecessarily. Also, they’d already bought the book, so I knew that my work there wouldn’t lose me the sale.
Was I sloppy? Yes. Would I do it differently? Absolutely, but it wasn’t a huge mistake and it certainly wasn’t the worst one I’ve made in the process. In the end, it was inertia and laziness. I didn’t want to go through the process of re-recording the whole book, and I wasn’t quite at that “murder your darlings” stage of editing yet. One can gain a certain driven momentum when working on a book. There will be a fair amount of darling murdering in the time to come. Not as many as most books I’ll write, but enough.
In my only bit of defense, I’ll say that this book had been through an editing process. My editor for Final Redoubt Press, Josh Peltier, had done extensive work on the novel, and most of the things I saw things I would differently now, and philosophies where I thought differently, but they were a decent representation of who I was when I wrote it, so it occurred to me that there was an argument for keeping it as is until told otherwise. Heinlein’s Rules and all that. (That links to the website of my arch nemesis. He barely knows I exist. Good post, though.)
I made some minor changes to take out things I just didn’t want in the book anymore. For instance, there was a throw away line about the damages of sexual assault that could be read wrong and are really worthy of their own book (and I might have to write a whole series of blog posts justifying that sentence). But for the most part, I kept the entire thing as is and mostly just fixed line item issues.
Finally, it was done. The contract hadn’t arrived yet (If I have the timing right) so I sat back and waited. Things would get hectic again soon enough.
Next week: the frenzy begins.