The FINAL Final Final Edit: Onto The Final Act

Today we wrapped up the final edits of chapter 13 of my fantasy/adventure epic Never Heroes, the tale of a selfish dragon who, by way of being blackmailed, goes on to become a great hero. This is a big day for Never Heroes, for chapter 13, titled Where The Demon Lives, was the final part of the 2nd act. This brings us on to the third and final act of the book. We now have a mere five chapters to go before we’re done.

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Zhyx, AKA ‘Red’ confronts Major Celice Arietta when she tried to plunder his favorite treasure.

The final act is an important part of the story as are the first and second acts. The first act grounds you in the story, introduces you to the setting and characters, and sets up the narrative that the rest of the work shall follow. The second act, which is in many ways the toughest, holds the interest of the viewer or reader, moving the story and plot along, establishing the conflicts that shall later be resolved and so forth. It is the bulk of the journey, and without it, a story will fail.

Now the third and final act, that is your climax. That is where all the action comes to a head, all conflicts are resolved, friends become enemies, enemies become friends, or enemies become deader.

Zhyx the Red Dragon meets River

Zhyx, AKA ‘Red’ meets River the Flatlander in the first of their many travels together.

My final act finds my heroes returning to a city that my fire breathing protagonist threatened with obliteration in the book’s opening chapters. Only now instead of coming to destroy it, he has come to save it. All the people he terrorized and threatened with death he now casts his wings wide before to shield them from the fire of a slightly less friendly wyrm. It is a conclusion very much in the spirit of the Kaiju genre. The two big monsters duke it out in a battle that spans the final two chapters of the book.

Of course, as great as two dragons punching each other is, that can’t be all the closing pages are. That would make the ending of this book one of spectacular monotony. We can’t very well have that. There has to be more than a one on one tussle with two cloud cutters (what dwarves call dragons in this universe). There has to be breaks in the action, emotion, tension, suspense, and only then will the spectacular set pieces be more than just prose dressing.

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River the Flatlander finds himself threatened with being eaten by an evil dragon.

During the last draft, the final chapters were the parts of the book that required the greatest amount of revision. Two of my main villains were sorely underused, several supporting characters were not present even though it made sense for them to be there, and there was far too great a focus on this one on one fight between hero and villain when it should, and eventually was, so much more. I also decided to put one of my characters in jeopardy, thereby holding some threat over my readers so this final battle would carry more weight.

For these reasons, I’m most looking forward to editing these chapters. It was such a joy to see the story come together in ways that never even occurred to me in earlier drafts, and now with a little spit and polish I can put this into prose worthy of the characters that have kept me going strong these last few years.

Hard to believe that inside of two weeks, this book shall be finally and definitively done. At last I’ll be able to devote more attention to other projects that have languished on the sidelines, and work on the other books in this series as well. Red and his adventure are far too grant to be contained in the pages of a single book.

Only when we’re done though. The way things are going, it looks like this will actually happen.

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Halfway Done With Edits

Fantasy is a difficult genre to write, so you can imagine how rough it has been to be working on the same story for ten years going through multiple iterations in screenplay format and a whopping six drafts in novel prose. That’s why it has been an immense relief to have made it to a definitive final draft, a final draft we’re now halfway done with editing.

My book is 18 chapters long and currently stands at some 158,000 words and 425 pages. That count has gone a little bit up and a little bit down here and there based on scenes and passages that are being constantly added, deleted, or otherwise revised. I’ve moved beyond the first four chapters (my first act) and powered on to the second act. Yesterday I completed editing chapter 9, and just this morning I put the finishing touches on chapter 10. That leaves is 8 chapters to go and then this 10 year journey of world building and draft revising can finally be put to rest.

A few times this week I had some trouble. Two chapters needed to be gone over twice as somehow I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to properly edit them. Be it either for a sour mood or just being exhausted, something didn’t quite feel completed about those last run throughs. Sure enough going through them again I found some rather noteworthy errors. Fragments of a previous draft, a nasty typo, a piece of prose that was too loaded. I had to do that for both chapters 7 and 9 both. But they were all the better for the extra work, because now I could close the page easy.

My first novel, which has been a source of much joy and frustration has never left me for more than a month these last two years. I’ve been writing it constantly at work, home, vacation, what have you. I pretty much had to learn how to write a book while doing this as prose fiction was not my forte. I always considered myself a more visual artist. My passion wasn’t literature, but film. That’s what I went to school for, and that’s what I dreamed of doing from the age of ten to now. Imagine my surprise that most of my passion has gone into a book. It has made me question my desire to work in film, though I still try for it every day.

With chapter 10 done, we’re past the halfway point. We’ve got less than 200 pages to go before it is wrapped and then comes that long, painful search for an agent. I’ll have a lot to get ready for with the rejection letters that are sure to follow. In between contacting agents and reading ‘No’ after ‘No’ I’ll finally have the free time to work on other projects such as screenplays and of course the sequels to this first book.

The FINAL Final Edit: A Third Completed

Editing a novel is one of the most enjoyable parts of the writing process. Once a piece of writing is in front of you its much easier to see what needs fixing and what is fine. After ten years and six drafts of the first in the Never Heroes fantasy adventure series, we are now a third of the way done with our final edits.

In this 18 chapter book, we’ve now completed 6 chapters of edits, wrapping up our 4 chapter 1st act and strolling two chapters into act number 2. On this journey we have deleted some 1039 words from the 162,140 word manuscript. I expect to cut and re-write much more as the journey goes on, though a few short passages here and there will require some re-writes, including the addition of an entire scene.

Still though, a third of the way done. Feels pretty good to have reached this point. In three or four days we will complete chapter 9 and cross the halfway point.

Finishing the first act was a major relief. The first quarter of a story is crucial, making sure all your characters are set up and the plot is a coherent sequence of events. It is also the part of the story I’d worked most on, so now we’re on the way to the new material, which I’ve quite enjoyed working on.

It is fun to see all the little details I’d forgotten since I wrote it. General Faridion Rort’s love of sunflower seeds and his habitual offering of a handful to our rather large dragon protagonist, attention to detail on the carnivorous plants in the Ankeerean Blood Jungle, more instances of the dragon language which I wrote specifically for this series. All of these have assured me that after much work, the planet Tygan and the country of Haiden are places. Bound in words they have become real along with the characters that inhabit them.

I feel like Dr. Frankenstein excitedly screaming after his creation was brought to life by lightning. It’s alive.

I expect to finish this run through towards the beginning of next month, and then we shall begin the long, monotonous process of letting it loose on the world.

Meet and Greet: 3/17/17

Come to our blog. We’ve got dragons!

Dream Big, Dream Often

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It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
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One Chapter Down

Well, today I was able to complete the final edits on the first chapter of my novel, some ten years after the original idea first took root.

I expect this first chapter to be the most difficult of the bunch for one simple reason. I’ve read the damn thing so many times I just can’t stand it anymore.

Don’t you hate it how that happens? You read your own work over and over again to the point that you just hate it, even when the words and characters land precisely where you want them? Well chapter 1 was the most oft edited chapter of the bunch. It contained many plot holes and pacing issues that needed to be fixed, so it reached perfection long before the rest of the manuscript.

Now that chapter is out of the way and I’ve got seventeen more to go. Seventeen chapters that are fresh and new, and in much greater need of my attention and love. I am happy to be putting this first chapter to rest so the remainder of the story can get my undivided attention on these final series of edits. I’m honestly quite looking forward to what comes next.

Editing is one of the most fun parts of writing, so these final few weeks are looking to be quite the entertaining romp.

The FINAL Final Final Edit

Last month I completed a 6th draft of my first novel, the fantasy adventure tale of a dragon’s unlikely partnership with a group of ragtag adventurers. Six drafts of the novel over two years is hardly a small commitment, and these characters and their journey have become a major driving force in my life. They have provided a creative outlet for my frustrations, fears and desires, and  hopefully will become the first of many dreams to take wing in this crazy and competitive world.

Their maiden flight is fast approaching, for today begins the final final FINAL edit of this manuscript. Today I begin a run through of tweaking and edits, hardly the overhaul the story received during the last draft where I must have re-written some fifty percent of the book. It was no easy task, but that overhaul was just what I needed to re-ignite my passion for this story, and through its labor, it gave me the strength to keep going.

Now the draft is more or less done. We just need to do a little editing.

That has become sort of a running joke between my cohorts and I. We thought this book was wrapped on draft 3.

Somewhere far away you can hear someone laughing.

After that came two more drafts and my hire of an editor. After speaking with her however more flaws in the story were revealed to me, many of them things I already acknowledged but stubbornly refused to change. If you recall some of my posts from last year, there was talk of a pre-final edit final edit. Little did we know that hiring that editor was the beginning of another draft.

Thankfully the drafts are done, and now it is time to just do some edits.

Editing for me has been one of the quickest but also most fun parts of the writing process. It’s very gratifying to have a completed book in front of you, for its flaws are laid bare. Fixing those flaws is just a question of what kind of waltz you want to do on the keyboard.

I once compared writing to archeology, and this still rings true for editing. Editing is when you have a map of the ancient temple, leaving you to decide which route best be taken to reach the treasure. Well, now we have a map, and it is a good one with many interesting choices. I would say we have a nice clear path to the loot, but there are a few minor pitfalls to avoid. Fortunately, those pitfalls don’t involve going into another tunnel altogether. We just need to have a sidestep or two.

Before my last draft, I had many problems with the story that I was worried the audience wouldn’t be able to accept. In my tunnel vision I failed to see those were extensions of my own issues with my work. During this last draft I made a list and checked out each of those problems one at a time. I still have a list now, but that list is decidedly shorter. Usually I can plow through a chapter or more in a day during the editing process. To that end, I don’t expect this final run through of the book to take more than twenty days.

Come the month of May, completed manuscript in hand, I continue a quest I attempted last year. I will start searching for an agent. This time it will be different though. The book will be better, the prose more precise, the characters better rounded and the story more complete. Hopefully that will be enough to turn a few more heads.

I don’t expect the coming slew of rejection letters to weigh lightly on my spirit, but I’ve come too far to give up now.