I’ve had a couple more rough and challenging weeks.
Everything that happened just before and over October got me generally behind and fatigued going into November. I lost the first weekend of this month playing catch-up on all the stuff that had been shoved to the back seat, and really, really needed to get done right then or my social media machine would grind to a halt. It kept me from working on my revisions to finish the 2019 version of A Contract in Azure and Indigo, and got me very behind there.
Then last week I had a bad fall: I tore a 1 by 5-inch gash in my shin and ripped off my big toenail tripping over a rake. Fortunately, my hands escaped injury even though they kept me from face planting in sharp gravel. So at least my ability to write is unhindered while my bum leg and foot recovers.
The injury got me even more behind on Azure, and started making me feel like its looming November 23rd deadline was becoming an iceberg collision that would sink the book’s December 7th release date I’d coordinated with a public launch day signing at the Nor’Geekster craft and book fair.
It became do or die time if I was still going to make all that happen, so I took a vacation day off from the day job to have a three-day weekend.
It did not die. :-)
I put in 40+ hours of writing, rewriting, revising, re-revising, and editing to get the remaining 3/4ths of the novelette into a 2019 draft. And it worked, and I did it… all on that three-day weekend.
Exhausted but feeling accomplished from getting the book back on schedule, I got the chapters in the hands of Beta Reader One. I should have their feedback in time to get a third draft crafted for Beta Reader Two by this upcoming weekend, which is their only availability to read it.
I have no other betas lined up, so once Two is done, that’s it. It’s for the best: I’ll have less than a week to deadline by the time Two gives me their feedback. So I’ll just get a 4th and finishing 5th draft for the print and eBook copies of Azure put together from there.
Overall, the 2019 version required much more reworking and clean-up than I’d anticipated it would. Azure still has the same story, plot and progression as the original and 2016 incarnations, but I’ve learned a lot in the three years since I last worked with it.
My eyes found many problems I wasn’t skilled enough to see before. None really related to the story, but rather to clunky presentation in the form of over-descriptions, repetitive descriptions, and badly done dialogue and action tags— usually related to former two. So I reworded and rewrote quite a bit of the story to pare all that down. At the same time, I expanded some scenes with more character action and actual dialogue, much like I did revising Angel. That strengthened a lot of rushed and/or underdeveloped sections, and allowed me to round-out characterizations.
I think all the work was very worthwhile. The story now comes through much cleaner and clearer, and if flows and hits its beats better. I feel that this is the best version of A Contract in Azure and Indigo I’ve done, by far!
A side effect of the cuts occurring simultaneously with the expansions was that the 2019 chapters retained about the same length as the 2016 versions, within a variance of a couple hundred words. The lone exception was chapter three, which was acutely bad and even downright cringeworthy to me in spots…
Like ideas, few stories are innately bad taken at their essentials. It’s almost always bad presentation or execution of a premise that results in a poor tale, and as writers with a redo button, we can fix that! It’s for that, and for my love of the story, that I‘ve done all this. Although how I’ve told the story has changed and evolved three times over five years, the story itself in terms of its events, plot and progression has remained consistently the same. For me, it’s all been about elevating the presentation and execution quality of the yarn to match the faith that I have in its premise. :-)
Three had been the longest chapter in the novelette, but after revision edits— even with three scene expansions— it ended up 20% shorter, and vastly improved. Now all the chapters are somewhere under 4,000 by a few hundred words or less.
Next up is, of course, working in the feedback edits. I’m also coordinating with Kate on interior illustrations (the rough character sketches look great so far) and a wraparound cover for Azure, and the book’s, metadata, promotional stuff, and back cover blurbs still need to be written. Much to do!
Have a great week everyone, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott