Letters from the Battlefield, revisited

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I had one of those rare moments this morning where I realized how much I love my job. Actually, that’s not so rare. It’s just that it doesn’t often hit when I’m sitting down to do revisions.

I’d cleared off my desk of the last set of manuscript papers so I could spread the new ones around. For about two seconds everything was tidy, and then I put a 717 page manuscript on the left side of the keyboard tray, fifty pages of editorial cuts on the right side, and the revision letter on the desk itself.

And I thought something very much like, “This is gonna be great.”

Some time ago I ran a “What would people like to hear about writing?” poll on my LJ. One of the choices was the nuts and bolts of line edits, copy edits, and revisions. As a result of that combined with my extraordinary good cheer about tackling these revisions today, I’m going to subject you to running commentary of the first few chapters/several pages/however long my attention span holds of edits.

I’ll be nice, though, and put it behind the cut. :)

Prologue

Paragraph one: one extremely moderate editorial suggestion results in an almost complete rewrite which ends up saying the same things, only better.

Page two: My own read-through observes the use of the same word four times in one paragraph. Doh.

Page three: oh no! Two paragraphs I adore, struck down by the editor! Curse her! Curse her! …except, yeah, ok, not *actually* necessary. But my pretty words! Woe is me! Woe!

*agglty* Part of the point of this series is the more complex sentence structure and storytelling style, but oi, sometimes I do even my own head in. *edits*

Page five: Agh! Ack! Augh! More cuts! My lovely woooords! Fine, fine, fine…

Ooh! A whole page cut! Woot!

My expectation is that I’m going to re-print the whole manuscript after I’ve done this edit pass, and try to read it with fresh eyes.

page 10: mammalian assistance is causing my butt to go numb because I can’t shift without disturbing the cat. Help!

page 8: Hah! 2 pages cut! You know, if I can take 2 pages out of every chapter…well. Not enough, actually, because the heavy cuts need to come in the first third. Hsm. Well. We shall see.

Chapter One

page one: Oi. If I spend this much time on each page I’ll be here til judgment day.

more of page one: oh dear. Added a page, and took an hour of editing to do it. OTOH, have now put in several necessary threads for later, clarified stuff, shored things up, etc. Let’s hope the next, say, forty pages, go faster.

page 18: I’ve dropped down a page again somehow. This is very alchemical and weird, editing at this level.

page 34: well, I cut one page. To cut more I’d have to drop another ten lines, and I don’t think I can do it. I may need to go back and emphasize a death: this will serve as a note to look at that later.

Chapter Two

page 42: ooh! ooh! another page bites the dust! And the great news is, this is in stuff I’m cutting, and has thus far been different (except for one sentence) from what Betsy’s chosen. So I might get somewhere with this! Woot!

page 56: ok, I didn’t cut much from this chapter, but I strengthened it tremendously. Got more structural support for a bunch of stuff later in the book, so that’s a win.

Chapter Three

…oh look. There is no chapter three. This book goes from Chapter Two directly to Chapter Four. O.O

And oh look, again. There are two chapter fours!

*fixes*

p 60-66: *whack* I like this scene. It’s sexy and does something for the story. However, I can replace its more important thrust with a few lines somewhere else, and I don’t think the sexy outweighs the first third of the book being so slow. So, *whack*.

For a rarity, though, removing it doesn’t mean it no longer fits within the context of the book (usually when I cut scenes they no longer make contextual sense *at all*.). I may even post it on cemurphy.net as a DVD extra when the book comes out.

p 80: ok, not bad. I’ve cut about 9 pages so far, 5 in a big chunk and the rest in dribs and drabs. I think if I can get to page 100 on the new version of the manuscript, I might call it a day. My butt is numb.

Chapter four

p 82: ooh yay! another one bites the dust! Unexpectedly, too, because I’m revising and it seemed more likely the story would expand, not compress. But it’s getting more solid–a thread I didn’t like is gaining strength, and will eventually work out much more solidly than it does now.

page 99: End of day one: 2 pages, the dedication and acknowledgements, added to the manuscript straight off, for a total of 719 pages. 100 pages revised, with evidently eleven pages stricken, as I’m down to 708 manuscript pages now. I’d guess I’ve written/rewritten about…a thousand words today.

I shall run a contest. Guess how many pages this manuscript will be in its revised draft. I’ll send a signed copy of THE PRETENDER’S CROWN to the person who’s closest, when I get my author copies sometime next year. :)

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5 comments to Letters from the Battlefield, revisited

  • 628 Pages

    Hmmm. Can I be in on the contest even tho I’m one of us?

    I love the cut and run parts of a rewrite too. Well…after I get over the crying jag part of the rewrites.
    Faith

  • When my copy-edits came, I felt like a complete dunce. I forget how many phone calls I made to Faith, asking what this symbol meant or how to insert that forgotten word. I stressed so much over that work.

    But here I am, a year later, with my first pass pages for the mass-market on the way…. and I even know what that means! Wheee!

  • Sure, Faith. I’m running the contest on all my blogs, so I don’t see why you can’t play along. :)

  • The scary thing is 628 is the number I had in my head before I read Faith’s comment. Really.

    Okay then….619.

    Fun post, Catie. I love it when you do these “In the moment” things.

  • Joyce

    I’ll go with 649 pages.