Sunday, November 8, 2009
Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher---part mystery, part comedy, part fairy tale (!?). Woot! Done! Well, not actually done done, but that's okay. I'll start the revision process tomorrow, but I took the weekend "off" to celebrate this hard earned (and joyous) milestone. The last 30 pages of a Sammy Keyes book is where all the set up in the previous 250 pages comes together. The last 30 pages are a tumbling together of subplots and punch lines (or both kind) and theme. It's the big, fun payoff for the months and months and months of buildup. My editor once asked me if I ever write the fun scenes of a book first--as in out of order--before it's their turn in the sequence of pages. I was shocked because I'd never even considered it, but apparently some authors do this. To me the fun scenes (and the climactic ones) are the reward for all the work I've put into setting them up. To write them before I've "earned" them? That seems like cheating. Or, you know, like charging something I can't yet afford to my credit card just because I can't wait to have it. Speaking of my editor, she's actually the one who taught me the value of rewriting. I used to dread it. But now it's a process I thoroughly enjoy. It's the part where I get to go back and tweak (or out-and-out fix) places that could be smoother (or just don't work). And now that I'm at this major milestone, I can relax a little. I know Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher works...so going back through it to make it tighter and funnier and more cohesive is actually fun. Everybody has a different way of writing, but I find that what works best for me is to print each chapter after I finish it, rewrite it using a red pencil (and yes, the pages can look quite bloodied at this phase), enter the changes, print again, and add the stapled pages to my growing stack of chapters. Then, when things start to get a little muddied--after 6 or 7 chapters I may have added a character or changed my mind about something--I will take the entire stack of chapters and rewrite through it. Then I enter the changes on my computer, print it again, and go on with the writing of the next chapters, until I stop, take the whole manuscript up to that point and rewrite it again before moving on. There are about thirty chapters in this book, and I have already gone through the majority of the manuscript (the first 25 chapters, or so) at least a dozen times (with the earlier chapters having accumulated more attention at this point than the later ones). By the time I am through the revision process (it'll be a few weeks), I'll have gone through the entire manuscript at least 20 times. Then, when I think it's "perfect", I'll send it off to my editor, who will (usually after many months) get back to me with ideas on how to make it even better. Oy. But I've learned to take an objective look at her notes and appreciate the fact that she's put so much thought into the story, and that she has managed to come up with ideas to improve the story. After I've mulled over her comments, I go through the manuscript another few times, resubmit it, and months later it finds its way back to me with comments and technical corrections made by a copy editor. Double oy. Comma placement can drive me batty. So even when I'm done, I'm not, but I'm ignoring that for now. For now I'm celebrating that Sammy 13 is "done" and that the "Cammy" fans (Casey+Sammy) who have been begging for the next installment will be ecstatic to find out what happens next. Woot!