Thursday, September 29, 2011

Final proof

What I’ve been doing lately? Well, pretty much worked on the final proof of my novel ShadowWalk. I first did a three-week read-through, but wasn’t content with that and started again, on what ended up as an added five-week read-through with magnifying glass, a process made even harder because this is my most wordy story by far so far, almost twice as long as my average.

I go deep with this one, even deeper than with my other stories. As stated, it was already my most edited novel, and I still have a distance to go. I can now safely say that I am very happy that I set the publishing date at October 31st. With Dreams Belong to the Night I gave myself a way too short deadline and almost went nuts (even more than usual) in the process.

And it isn’t just the «editing» either, most definitely not. Far more important is the ambition behind the story, its vast depths and detailed descriptions of pretty much anything, raising the stakes on every level.

It was there almost from the very beginning and is certainly present now, at the end.

This is vigorous storytelling and it makes me proud beyond belief.

Once more I’m struck by the conviction that an editor wouldn’t have been able to do for me what I’ve done for myself the last two months. He or she wouldn’t have a true clue about what the story is about, really, except in a strictly superficial way. His or her «contributions» would have diminished the story, not enhanced it.

The editors that have read it were certainly clueless. While reading their comments and suggestions seventeen years ago I just sat there shaking my head. Had they read the story at all? Had they even tried?

Clueless is just the first letter here…


I really felt I was done with the wording of the story and such, but I found a few more complete paragraphs that needed changing. Here is one example of that, one illustration of the «show versus tell» debate:

As you will notice the result is over twice as long as the discarded version, yet again expanding the story, not trimming it or tightening the plot, like most editors would have suggested.

Before:

People gathered indoors, inside the tavern. Wild rumors circulated. About stories of Time and Shadow. They had been told of a story, that, if it was true, would have profound consequences on their perception of reality. A profound story, covering much of the unknown history of mankind. Virtually everybody gathered here was fully aware of how official, written history had hidden, distorted what really happened, how the victorious had chronicled events, twisted them to suit a purpose. Time itself had for a very long time been a mystery to mankind. Now, as the rumors would have it, one of the witches supposedly had access to time itself. The guests all sensed the fundamental in the coming happening. Some, incredibly enough were stupid and frightened enough to leave, but in most curiosity clearly won over fear.

After:

People gathered indoors, inside the tavern, pulled there by a seemingly irresistible force.

– You won’t believe what I’ve heard, one boy whispered to another. – What we’ll hear is, according to a friend of mine an alternative history lesson to end all alternative history lessons, profound and wild beyond belief.

– The victorious alter and author history to suit their purposes, the other shrugged. – Everybody knows that. It isn’t exactly news.

– But it’s even more than that, his buddy continued, as if the other had hardly spoken at all. – These people know what they are talking about… and they are for real. They don’t practice stage magic, but true witchcraft. They…

He stopped, holding back, shaking his head in embarrassment. The other looked indulgent at him.

– Hush, a girl hissed excited, unnecessary, without malice at them.

A man stepped forward, a dark man, dressed in cloak and hood. He appeared ancient. Everybody imagined they could hear the quiet sound of their own breath. After just a few more seconds… or rather moments silence reigned in the room, in the building and entire scenery.

– Time itself has, for a very long time been a mystery to mankind. He started right away, without introduction. – Now, tonight, my friends, you will experience something unique, a glimpse behind its curtain, its thin veil…

- He is sincere… isn’t he? The girl whispered to the two boys, having momentarily forgotten her earlier call for silence. – He truly believes what he’s saying.

There was something about the entire setting, something very, very convincing, adding to tidbits most of them had experienced since they had arrived in town. Even the professed skeptics among them stared stunned at the hooded man in their midst. All guests sensed the fundamental in the coming happening. Some, incredibly enough were stupid and frightened enough to leave, but in most curiosity clearly won over fear.

Messy detours

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