I've spent the past two weeks head-down in editorial revisions on The Sharing Knife, or whatever it ends up being named. They were not extensive, but they were delicate, far-flung, and tricky. See, a change on one page may have tentacles connecting to foreshadowings or consequences or echos anywhere from 3 to 300 (or more) pages in either direction, and every one must be tracked down and compared for a continuity check. If changes are required, those too may have tentacles, and so on. About the only way to do this is all at once, i.e., boot up pretty much the whole 900 manuscript pages and hold them in my head as I dart back and forth from section to section tweaking things and slowly going mad. Needless to say, my head doesn't have room for anything else during this phase.
I re-wrote one scene extensively, to its clear benefit, several others in part, and after that it broke down into a sentence or a word changed/cut/added here or there. Or both. It tended to become more and more about less and less, as it progressed. I notice at least some of my revision notes, scribbled in pencil on a separate sheet, started with flinging lots of words in the general direction of what I needed to say, and then winnowing them down and down till, at the end of an hour, I ended up with one 5-word sentence. But they were the right words, I hope. Especially messy or muddled bags of words tended to be a tip-off that I needed to change the underlying events more radically, to a clearer vision. It's often quite difficult to tell whether one is making things better or worse.
Revisions at this stage are delicate work. There's an anecdote about Oscar Wilde, where his interlocutor inquires, "And what did you do all this morning, Mr. Wilde?" "I wrote a line." "And what did you do this afternoon?" "I crossed it out." Oscar was revising, I'm sure of it.
The interlocutor likely thought it was a good joke about the ease of the writing life. Ha! Ha! I say! I hope Oscar got a good back rub, after that day's labor. I expect he needed it. I'm just sayin'.
Rather unexpectedly, the second half, while still not a stand-alone, may be easier for the valiant or the misled to pick up and read with comprehension than I at first thought. For one thing, as it opens the characters are arriving at a new setting where a lot of things have to be reported, discussed, and explained to/with the new set of characters coming on stage; anyone who can perservere to the end of, say, Ch. 3 (or whatever it's going to be numbered) will pretty much have enough essential information to go on with. This didn't take any re-writing -- it was all already there, naturally. That reader will also be missing a lot, too, of course, especially in the subtext department -- rather like a Vorkosigan series reader jumping in with Memory or ACC.
The title and subtitles are not yet settled, although my editors have the candidates in hand. I don't expect the final decision to happen till after everyone gets back from their Thanksgiving breaks. I do thank y'all for the help with winnowing the possibilities.
Subject: (news) January reading at Dreamhaven, MPLS
Date: Tue, 01 Nov 2005
I've just set up my annual Dreamhaven reading...
SPECULATIONS READINGS CONTINUE AT DREAMHAVEN BOOKS
Speculations, the science fiction and fantasy edition of SASE's Carol Connelly Readings Series, continue Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at DreamHaven Books, 912 W. Lake St, Minneapolis. The monthly readings include a reception with free soda pop and cookies.
On Tuesday, January 24 LOIS McMASTER BUJOLD reads her fiction. Ms. Bujold is the author of at least 17 books, including The Warrior's Apprentice, Barrayar, Memory, Komarr, and A Civil Campaign. Most of her work centers around the diplomatic adventures of interstellar troubleshooter Miles Vorkosigan and his parents. More recently she has started a fantasy series, including The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls. She is the recipient of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards.
For further information contact Eric M. Heideman, eheideman_at_dhzone.com, 612-721-5959.
Lois notes: I'm not sure yet what part of The Sharing Knife, Vol. 1 I'll read from; it'll depend on how many people there have heard my earlier readings, since iirc I debuted it at a Speculations reading last year. But I'll be sure to bring enough text to choose from.
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