Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Killing Hamlet: An Excellent Final Chapter

I was very diligent today and read through the second half of my MS, revising as I went along, cutting here and putting in there. On the whole, I am well pleased with my little book. The final act works better than I'd imagined it would, and the last chapter is the best thing I've ever written, I think. I remain in love with the final passage in the book.

I am not in love with what work remains to be done, though. I edit/revise by hand, so I have a stack of the last 150 pages of MS with my handwritten notes in red ink, sitting next to my computer on my desk. They wait for me to type all my changes up into the Word(tm) document. I really really loathe that particular task. Not only is it dull work, but I tend to introduce errors into the text at this stage. Which is just annoying. Still, it must be done and the job that's never started takes the longest and all of that happy crap. Not that I'll be starting it tonight, mind you. I'm not crazy. Not that crazy.

As I went through the narrative I wrote notes to myself on 3x5 cards, mostly just questions to answer (Chapter Fifteen: Is the scene with the hat necessary, or is it just padding and one joke you can't let go?) and big-picture issues I want to think about for a few days or a week before I declare the book finished enough to send off to my very patient agent. There are not many of these 3x5 cards, but if I act on a few of them it will mean some major rewriting to a couple of chapters, so I want to carefully consider things before I move on. It's been my experience that if I have any question at all about a chapter, a scene, a single word or a whole dramatic arc, something is broken and I need to fix it. One must trust one's instincts, you know.

Still, I am happy to report that the narrative is not substantially different at the end of this round of revisions than it was before I began. All hail the power of positive outlining.

13 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you still love the book, Scott!

    And I'm right there with you. The joy of revising leaves once it's time to actually type up all the changes. lol

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kudos! Good luck typing them all in. Here's hoping no errors get introduced and start making out with your MS.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congrats, Mr. Bailey! I like your system of writing questions down on cards. I'll have to do that sometime.

    As for the typing, maybe it's time you hired an intern.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks all! The weirdest thing is that I still don't feel as if I've actually read the book yet. Another weird thing is that it feels like a short book, like the events in it happen very quickly. I don't know if that's good, bad, or neutral. I tell myself this is just a hallmark of a page-turner, and I should be happy. What I really need is to just sit down and read the damned thing straight through, like it's any other book. That's some tricky, as we all know.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Domey: A friend of mine actually worked as assistant to a writer in New York for a while after college, doing a lot of research at the NYPL. He didn't have to type up the writer's notes, though. And, he got paid. After the Pulitzer and a couple of movie deals, I might be able to afford help. For now, darn it, I'm on my own. Though interns are supposed to be in it purely for the joy of work experience and not for money, right? Educated slave labor in exchange for "experience" and connections in the industry: isn't that how the intern scam works?

    ReplyDelete
  6. You don't need an intern; you need a TA.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'll need a faculty appointment first.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now you're just in the details.

    I hear Domey's good with details.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Scott,
    I prefer a combination on hand editing and editing on screen, but the final version must be on paper for me as well.

    Best of luck with your revisions.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nevets, didn't Malasarn just volunteer to be my typist?

    Crimey, I can't edit on screen at all. I absolutely hate it. Hey, glad to see you back on the internets.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'll type for you if I can use your office and get free scones.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Scott - I'm pretty sure he did.

    @Malasarn - Have I ever mentioned that my wife makes the world's best scones?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Maybe when you sell your first book and win the Pulitzer you can hire a secretary to type all that in for you. I could do that for you as long as I get to live near Seattle...

    ReplyDelete