Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Beautiful Books #3: The Editing Process (gifssss)

It's time for the last of the NaNoWriMo themed Beautiful Books series, hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Click the link above for more about the monthly writing link-up, and how to join.

My NaNo project came in at 47K words (3K under the goal), but I don't intend on shelving it for too long. It's an alternate history/Victorian inspired fantasy, and the working title is The Butler Did It. You can read more about it here.

And now for the questions:

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

Well, since I haven't finished it, I can't really say how it turned out. But right now, I'd say it's at a solid 7 - I'm pleased with how it's going, but it's a long way from where it needs to be.
Did anything defy my expectations? I didn't expect people moving around would take so much time! (I wasn't paying enough attention to Jane Austen! When you quit one house for another and only have horse-drawn conveyances, and must close/open houses, stuff takes forever). Also, I wasn't planning on so many drawing room conversations. But I suppose that's where the action really happens in this type of thing.
There just aren't enough Lady Catherine gifs! She agrees.

2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

This is kind of hard, since I was trying to write a book I wanted to read. I suppose it's Jane Austen + Edgar Allen Poe with a touch of Downton Abbey and Black Butler. In other words, manners, secrets, scandal, murder, and really bizarre goings-on.

3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

Depends on the day, and my mood/stress levels. I like deadlines because they make me do stuff. But I am also fickle and like to write when inspiration strikes. Regardless, my goal is to write something every single day, whether it's reviews, words in a book, or a blog post.

4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

1. Chapter-by-chapter read through, just like I've picked up a random book and am reading it for the first time. This tells me how the story flows.
2. Print out the unholy leviathan (most of my books fit that length description). This is where I compare my outline/structure to the book, and do examinations of the plot arcs.
3. Hunt for plot holes. They're there, just look harder.
4. Have someone do a stylistic read through (usually my sister, Grace. She's a fantastic beta. I mean, sister).
5. Take any input from 2-4, and apply to manuscript.
6. Work on another project for at least another month so I can read the book with a clear mind again. Start over at 1.

And basically I do this until I am satisfied that it is either A. The worst novel ever written, or B. Ready to be submitted to more readers/agents/publishers.
What finishing this process feels like

5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?

Probably the plot! This tends to be my problem with my NaNo novels. I usually come up with ideas at the spur of the moment, and have little time to plan before November (yes, I know, that's my own fault).

6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?

The characters! They came together like a symphony, and they will keep me plugging along. I love them all, and they turned out how I wanted them to ;)

7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?

The major three characters: (More about them here)

Ernest(ine) Harrison (Grey) - A naive but headstrong girl who disguised as a butler/manservant to be with her beloved, Lord Atlantis de Carrefour. But then he up and died and ruined everything, throwing her life into a tailspin. Despite this, she is a determined to not only survive, but flourish.

Pasifica (Sif) de Carrefour - Atlantis' scandalous and "wild" sister. She seems to be more irritated that her brother's murder put her in mourning seclusion than that he was murdered. She has a surprisingly crafty brain, and she daydreams about exploring lethal jungles and reporting her findings back to the Citadel.

Sydney Smith (?), Butler (?)- He is surprisingly young and scary. His spectacles seem to reflect rays of light into your soul. And he's so efficient, condescending, and capable that Ernestine sort-of hates him. However, his past is apparently linked in interesting ways to the de Carrefours, and Ernestine is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Two other important people:

Atlantis de Carrefour - Though he is the victim of murder most foul, he left a string of problems and mysteries behind him (including a manservant that appears to be a woman). So he's still a very important presence in the novel - not to mention his murder is the catalyst and the mystery here.

Ronin Kuznetzov - A battle-weary young commander at a Siberian outpost, outside the Citadel. M.I.A at the beginning of the novel. No one inside the city cares if he will resurface or not, but that might be a grave oversight on their part.

8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

My main plan is to finish the draft, and then shelve it until I'm ready to edit it. I have a lot of other projects on the table. And then, who knows?

9. Share a favorite snippet!

My favorite snippet (as of now) gives away just about every plot twist, so I am refraining from that. Instead, I just picked the first random bit that caught my eye! It's rather long, but it just didn't seem to work if I cut off more.


Lady de Carrefour gave me a sour look. “Atlantis’ death will mean I can easily avoid society, I’m in mourning after all. Unfortunate as it is, this has given me a chance I can not afford to miss. Tell me, Miss Gray, have you ever wanted more out of life than a good marriage, a couple offspring, and the finest dress each season?” She leaned forward, her tone light but her expression intense.

I was still processing her lack of proper mortification at her brother’s death, but I had known my answer to this question for a long time. “Of course not! That’s all I ever wanted. And,” I surged on, rebellion blooming in my blood, “Atlantis,” it felt good to say his name aloud, “promised me that life. And now he’s dead, and you don’t even seem to care.”

Instead of smacking me again, as she certainly had a right to do, Lady de Carrefour just leaned back in her chair, giving me that satisfied cat smile. “Ahh, there it is at last: A spine. I figured you had one buried somewhere. After all, it takes a certain determination to be the sort of idiot you are. Don’t worry – I have loved Atlantis much longer than you, and with both eyes open. But I don’t have time to mourn him now. Not when he’s given me the perfect chance.”

I glowered at her, sick of playing the respectful valet. “You keep saying that. The chance for what?”

“Why, to leave the Citadel and go West, of course.” Lady de Carrefour crossed her arms over her chest (a very masculine habit) and regarded me thoughtfully. “That has been my goal. Do I really seem like the sort of creature you’d want in a drawing room?”

I stared at her blankly. “Why on earth would you want to leave the Citadel? Don’t you know what it’s like out there?”

“Much more interesting than here is what it’s like. Natives, ancient beasts, bands of criminals, jungles, cannibals, steam engines, and thousands of miles of land just waiting to be claimed by adventurous souls.”

I shook my head, thinking of the dirty, crowded wharves near my ruined home.  The wide-eyed children, the adults who crept furtively through life, as if they were afraid their own shadow might catch them. “No, there’s nothing out there but death. Whether by monsters, disease, wild animals, or outlaws. The Citadel is paradise. Why would you want to leave?”

Lady de Carrefour pressed her lips together, “One person’s paradise is another person’s gilded cage. And besides, it isn’t much of a paradise at all, or even safe, if one’s strong and healthy brother can be beheaded in his own home.” Her expression hardened into a cold mask. “Now that, is a travesty. And of course, what they don’t want anyone to know is that Atlantis is not the first. There’s something else going on here, and no one wants to talk about it. Have you heard about the murders farther inland, on Embassy Row?”

I gaped at her, “No, what are you talking about? Murders are incredibly rare in the Citadel.”

Were. Were incredibly rare. Until earlier this year.” Lady de Carrefour drummed her fingers on the table top, “Something is happening. But no one is supposed to know about it. I suspect that the Interior Guard has no clue what’d going on either, and that’s why they’re keeping it quiet. It wouldn’t do to have mass hysteria in the middle of the season, would it? Not when we might finally find out if the Greco-Roman ambassador’s daughter might really wed the Persian magistrate’s delightfully foolish (and delightfully rich) son. Why would we want to fret about blood and death when ruffles have finally been ruled acceptable for evening dress? Such times we live in,” her voice practically oozed scorn.

Still, despite her flippant dismissal, I realized that I had been safely cocooned in my own life and my own troubles, with nary a thought for the Capitol and all of the dignitaries who lived there. They were the heart of the Citadel, and part of the reason for its very existence: a safe haven to raise the future rulers of the world, help them form allegiances, and ensure a more global, united nation of  mankind. In the Citadel, it was easy to forget that humanity was sorely outnumbered by all the other inhabitants of the world.


10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

Promote my debut novel - Knight of the Blue Surcoat! Continue to work at my current novels. My major goal is to finish/polish up The Last Coffee Shop (my darling) and get it query ready. I also have two more novels that are begging me to write them (or at least outline them). My current pesky idea involves Korean and Norse mythology, an oracle with zero spirituality or supernatural ability, a traveling pack of misfit warriors, and a deaf boy who lives in the forest and has a lot of secrets.