Tishta the Crystal Orb: Part One Revised Draft Complete

I changed tacks. I am not going to record the revised draft until I finish the entire book. This will allow me to get the book into the hands of my Beta Readers faster. When that is done, I am planning to purchase better recording equipment for the audio, and also look into audio book software. My friend, Joe Follansbee, knows all about recording and has written a blog about it. He will be a valuable asset for me. Thanks, Joe!

My major intent for the revised draft edit is to ensure my writing style is not noticeably different from the beginning of the book to the ending. I am fully aware of how rapidly my style has changed over the past two-and-a-half years—even since last September, when I started into the second draft of the novel.

A crucial change I made to this draft was changing the very first paragraph of the book. I was worried that it would not grab the reader’s attention. I have been reading a lot about openings. I gave it a lot of thought. And then, I figured it out. It used to start something like this:

Malcan took the first watch. He carefully circled the camp, getting a feel for the landscape and looking for places a person could hide. He felt a tingle go up his spine, then warily headed down the animal trail on which they had arrived.

I changed it to this:

Malcan felt a tingle go up his spine. The hair raised the back of his neck. He warily headed down the animal trail that led away from the camp.

Feedback on this particular change would be very welcome.

The most obvious difference in the second draft from the beginning to the ending was that my sentences had become much shorter and less complex—predominantly due to breaking them up into multiple smaller segments by removing “and” and “then.” A result of this was the paragraphs began to be shorter as I noticed there were multiple charater/actions going on within paragraphs. I am now attempting to make each paragraph discreet to an individual character—unless there are multiple characters engaged in the action. I have mentioned this in previous postings as I went through the second draft, where I included examples. Surprising to me, I ended up changing a bunch more of these in Part One of this edit pass. I am fairly certain that there will be far fewer of these changes as I progress through the book this time.

Another focus for this edit has been to eliminate overuse of “just” and “sigh.” Once I started looking for these, I found an abundance of both. For “just,” I usually just removed them without changing anything else about the sentence. Several of my characters did a lot of sighing. I changed those occurances to describe their feelings in other ways. I like both of these edits. These are tough ones for me to notice, until someone mentions it—more often than not, in a writing blog—which is why I include these as I discover them. They will help me as I go through the next book, and I hope they might help you, as well.

In this draft of Part One, I trimmed another seven hundred words. It was mostly due to the changes I described above, but I am also becoming more critical of whether a word or phrase or sentence is actually neccesary. I have not gotten to removing scenes yet. Determining what to remove will likely be the part editing that I am the least good at. That is what an editor is for. I will probably hire an editor after I do another edit based on the feedback from my Beta Readers. This is my first time going through this process, so I do a lot of guessing (and a lot of learning).

I would like to make my way through all my notes before I send out the Beta. There are a few things I want to add. I think they will help to flesh out a couple of the characters. I will be careful not to add too much.

There are four more parts to go. I hope to finish the editing and have the ebook ready for my Beta Readers by the end of September. If you are interested in becoming a Beta Reader, contact me at: TheWolfDreamBooks@gmail.com.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

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Two Hour Transport – August 23, 2017

Last night, at Two Hour Transport, we had the pleasure of hearing Seattle author Nancy Kress read from her newly-released book, “Tomorrow’s Kin,” based on her Nebula-winning novella, “Yesterday’s Kin.” It was an intriguing introduction to a story about an alien invasion—they set up housekeeping right in New York Harbor. It’s always exciting to hear an author give voice to her story.

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The second guest reader was Evan J. Peterson. He read a delightfully weird short story, “Investment Opportunity,”—which will be included in “Unspeakable Horror 2”—about a scientist who gets sucked into an experiment. I have heard Peterson read other stories—they are always full of surprises.

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The open-mic readers included J. G. (Joe) Follansbee, who read from his new novelette, “The Mother Earth Insurgency;” Edith Follansbee, whose spin on the Cinderella fairy tale had everyone chuckling; Tod McCoy; Anaea Lay; and several others, including me. I read the scene, “Eclipse,” from my novel, “Tishta the Crystal Orb.” It seemed appropriate, given the eclipse on Monday.

Two Hour Transport happens each month on the fourth Wednesday at Cafe Racer. Host Theresa J Barker keeps the atmosphere warm and nurturing—a great place to practice reading to an audience, to share your stories, and to get to know other writers in the Seattle SciFi and Fantasy community.

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Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Part 5 Edit Complete

I am super excited to say I have finished the first edit of the second draft of “Tishta the Crystal Orb.” Going through “Part 5: Into Mondar” was a lot of fun. I can not wait to release this book.

I continued to trim words even as I filled in incomplete parts of the story. The word count for Part 5 dropped from 48,630 to 46,691, although the page count increased by two to 144. The total for the novel went from 175,847 words to 173,696.

The reason for the increase in pages—even though the word count continues to decrease—is, I have been splitting up paragraphs based on who is doing the action. It started when I began breaking compound sentences into their parts, especially when the first part was the action of one character and the second of another character. It led to inserting line feeds between the actions. I am happy with the result.

Here is an example:

Malcan sat and crossed his legs. Mar turned to look at him. She moved into his lap with her back against his chest and he put his arm around her. They waited.

became:

Malcan sat and crossed his legs.

Mar turned to look at him. She moved into his lap with her back against his chest.

He put his arm around her.

They waited.

I like this much better, especially the final sentence being by itself. Before, it was buried at the end of a fairly long paragraph. It took me a while, but, now that I am used to it, it seems natural when the actions are so discrete to each character. There are cases where it is more about the group—I sometimes leave paragraphs intact, even though there are multiple characters involved—especially when they are all involved in the same task or idea.

I had a similar epiphany when I stopped using gerund phrases so much, especially at the beginnings of sentences.

I hope these are both good changes. I fear they will make the reading of the book too drab or boring. Time will tell.

I learned some of these tricks of the trade from Jack Remick and Bob Ray. The style they teach is aimed at being concise and using only the words that need to be used. I didn’t understand all of it when I regularly attended their twice weekly writing group (it used to be at the now-closed Louisa’s on Eastlake and E Louisa in Seattle, but now meets at Vios Cafe at Third Place at NE 65th and 20th Ave NE in the Roosevelt Neighborhood), but it sunk in. Once I discovered it in my own writing, I learned to embrace it. If you’re interested in learning about what they share, check out their website, bobandjackswritingblog.com.

Because I added so much to the second draft (it more than doubled in length from the first draft), there were characters and scenes I didn’t remember. I made sure they were adequately described, consistent with their place of origin, and unique. While I read, I carefully monitored the passage of time—there were three main story plots going on that had to line up for the finale. I am pretty confident they are all in sync in terms of passage of time. In the final edit, I will ensure these are completely correct.

The final edit—that’s the next thing I have lined up. I am planning to read the book from end-to-end while listening to the audio recordings. This will help me find any remaining plot and character vagaries; missing periods or commas; repeated words; and typos; as well as ensure the uniformity of my writing style. Audio is really helpful to me in this regard. It also helps me find inconsistencies in the voices of the characters—“that’s not something Coltan would say; it’s more like what Malcan might say,” I hear myself thinking.

I do not have a really good feel for how long this will take, but I am guessing something on the order of a month. My plan is to do it—earbuds in place and computer open on my lap—on the bus during my commute to and from work. I will also spend most of my evenings engaged in the same process.

As soon as I finish, I plan to release a Beta to my Beta Readers. If you are interested in helping with this, let me know at TheWolfDreamBooks@gmail.com, and I will add you to the list. The work for you would be to read the book in a timely manner and give me feedback. The reward will be my eternal gratitude and an autographed copy (if, and when, a physical book is produced), or maybe a signed special edition of the final ebook.

While the Beta is out, I will be getting cover art done, and drawing maps and maybe some other inside art. The first edition might be a little rough around the edges, but I think it is important to get it out there. A second edition will likely have professionally drawn maps and scene art. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

For now, I feel a great sense of relief to finish this step in the process. My current goal is still to self-publish before the end of the year. The next book, “Into the Wolf Dream,” has been tugging at me—it is ready to move forward.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.