Editing and drafts

I’m having a lot of fun with Scrivener and I’m trying to use it to its full potential. I was the ‘write everything in order, no outline’ gal for a long time. That didn’t get a lot of things done at all. Now I have an outline that’s helping a lot, with estimated wordcounts for each point. Which aren’t meant to be chapters, just a general ‘this happens, and then this’ with a brief summary sketching out my ideas. For Delphinium they’re as vague as “Lizzy ill” and “Duc things” to “Piers and Eglė visit.”

I added my own spin to drafts today too. I never got the ‘first draft’ ‘second draft’ thing. I wrote and edited as I went along, so I could rarely show you what version of a story was what. But finding that I could edit the labels in Scrivener got me thinking and I made up my own system.

  1. Get the wordcount: Each of my 15 outlined points has a wordcount estimate of 2500 words. This will leave me with a book of 75,000 words. In a few cases I’ve already gone over the limit, and I’m sure there are points where I won’t be able to get to the 2500 exactly, but I want to give myself a goal. I can edit a little as I go along, so this isn’t a strict first-draft with no edits, but it is the ‘bleed all over the pages’ stage (this is a metaphor despite my subject matter). I’m also not allowed to sit and fret over one paragraph- that’s for later.
  2. Make it pretty: So I’ve hit 2500 and the words mostly make sense. Some of the scenes sort of stop in the middle, and I need to rewrite the opening paragraph, and this is the step where I’m allowed to put everything in its place and well, make it pretty. I should be able to read it from start to finish without wondering WTF.
  3. Make it functional: This is more nitty-gritty. Check the grammar, double-check the spelling, and triple-check I meant that exact word. Then read through the story from start-to-finish and see if it works as a whole. Maybe I need easier transitions or there was a plot point I dropped and need to get back to.
  4. Beta crit: After it’s Functional in my eyes I’m going to pass it over to my beta-readers/editor etc and let them at it (while starting work on the outline for Aconitella). Then I’ll take all of their comments and help and make adjustments as I see fit. I’ve paid an editor previously to help a bit with Larkspur, and I’m going to use 5 close writer-friends for beta readers for Delphinium.

All that’s left then is some formatting and I can publish my sequel.

Right now I’m still mostly in the ‘Get to the Wordcount’ stage, but a few of the points are at “Make it pretty” and the first point can be moved to “make it functional” soon.

I added a bit more to Larkspur

Not a lot. Like 3 sentences. And they were sentences that I only realized had to be there after I started writing Spadille. I had made mention of Clandestina being a land of healers, and how this forced many of the spirits of death away. Upon rereading I realized this made it sound like illness and death weren’t a problem. This isn’t true. In some ways it’s more of a problem because there are few governing spirits of death, and mortal healers can only do so much. So compared to other lands, you have a higher survival rate in Clandestina after you’re wounded. The healers know their stuff, there are surgeons, etc. But at the same time ‘acts of God’ cannot be controlled. A plague is a plague, and one is more likely to show up in Clandestina to even the score because so many people are surviving physical wounds that should be fatal.

I’m learning a lot of this as I go along. I’ve had Pierre and these characters in my head for about ten years. I know them well. But at the same time this has gone through so many changes, and thinking about it is different than writing it out. It’s like a different part of the brain is being used. So as I’m typing I come up with twists I didn’t realize were there, and yet make total sense.

The problem being, I’m writing volume 2, and volume 1 is out. Again, I fixed it, but I’ve had 37 buys and over 1000 downloads. Some people might be confused.

I am going to try and keep explaining this in volume 2 and hope it doesn’t seem like a contradiction. I have to email Amazon and get them to update everyone’s files. Which really should be an automatic process, but that’s a rant for another post.

Amazon *sigh*

I’m signed up with KDP Select. It’s 90 days, exclusive to Amazon. You get some free days for marketing purposes. The thing is, Amazon has been wonky lately. Everyone is having diminishing sales, the keywords aren’t working right, and it’s just.. blah.

Final straw– Amazon just emailed me saying that, even though I had added several hundred words of content, fixed errors, and asked them to update the work, they have not found ‘enough’ to inform those that have already bought the book to update it.

I’m thinking of breaking my KDP Select contract and upload to Kobo/B&N and such anyway. I don’t think they can do much more than kick me out of Select, which I’m very ok with. I know my other stories will not be tied to Amazon.

EDIT: Ok, I won’t break Select. I said I’d give 90 days, I will. 😛 I might as well use the free promo days anyway.

Larkspur: 24th March

I have spent the entire day writing and editing Larkspur. I have a little over 12K (cut a lot, added a lot), and I need a few more scenes fleshed out before I’m satisfied with the arc. I think I can get the end wordcount at ~15K. By technical definitions this would make it a novelette, though novella has been used for that length as well (I prefer the term novelette honestly).

Unfortunately have classes all day long tomorrow, so it takes the entire day away from me writing-wise. That said, I think I’ll finish soon. Really soon. I am hesitantly promising that I will have Larkspur done by the 22nd. It will be the day after Spring starts, and canonically the last day the story takes place on as well- it spans Martius/Prima 14th – 22nd. The dates are very important for fictional magical fée reasons, and there’s a certain level of satisfaction to finishing the book on the canon-dates. I couldn’t have it done for the 14th, but I’m doing my best to have it done at least by the last day. You can imagine the actions had to finish taking place before I could write them down and give them story form.

This is my first book, my first completed story in years. I have worked on it for two years, trying to make it perfect. I know it isn’t, but it’s as close as it is going to get. I need to work on the next story, and actually be a writer and author.

I am going to try my damnedest not to take another two years for the next story. If I can find some sort of rhythm I will attempt a monthly schedule, but I can make no hard promises at this time. Think of it like comic book releases, a month apart, but sometimes there’s a ~week off one way or the other depending when it’s published. I have an idea of what the next few stories will be (one a sequel to Larkspur, and another the beginning of a different realm’s stories), and between trying to work within an outline and giving myself real ‘writing time’ I hope I can become professional very quickly.

The story will be uploaded to Kindle late the 21st, or early the 22nd. I have heard it may take Amazon 24-48 hours to put the book up for sale (I had hoped it was far faster, but alas) and so I am giving the official release date as Monday, March 24th (if it shows up online before, say the evening of the 23rd, I will inform everyone!). The first two or three days it will be free, I just ask if you do read the story you leave a review.

Larkspur, by V. M. Jaskiernia

“Pierre Salvador has returned to court after finishing his studies, and a party in his honour happens that very evening. But feeling unwell so shortly after his travels, the princeling excuses himself from dancing-and-flirting with Lady Elizabeth Anne, and retreats to his quarters with a black cat in tow. In addition to medical university, Pierre has almost finished the last task set by Mora, lady of death, to complete his study in necrocræft. An illegal magic, the power over life and death, he courts Mora as he also begins to court Elizabeth. Love or death?”