Focus on the Story

Designed by Christopher Bohnet, xt4, inc.

Designed by Christopher Bohnet, xt4, inc.

Life has been very busy for this writer chic.  Last Saturday I finished proofing the corrected ePub file for Perceval’s Secret.  The proofing process has been interesting and educational.  First I learned that no matter how many times I’d proofread the manuscript, I still found more issues in the ePub file that needed correction.  Second I learned about MSWord formatting and the Enter key, and how it can totally screw up the conversion from Word to HTML.  That lesson was a particularly costly one.  Third I learned that BookNook, the company I chose to do the conversion for me, really knows its stuff and the people have been great to work with.

As I read through the novel as an e-book, I also learned even more deeply my editor’s admonition to focus on the story.  What does this mean exactly?  Well, for me, it means that I over-write.  I love to include lots of detail, lots of detail.  Patricia told me that I have a precise eye for detail, and my concern to make certain I include all that detail weighed down the novel.  At times, it nearly stopped the story’s momentum.  Now, the detail was valid.  If I were writing in the nineteenth century it would probably also be extremely welcome.  But in the twenty-first century, writers need to focus on the story and include only the details that reveal character and/or move the story forward.

For example, I love the city of Vienna, Austria.  I wanted to make certain that the reader could visualize the places Evan went to in the city.  My detailed descriptions of these locations, while accurate, were not really necessary.  So what I had to do was identify the one or two crucial location details, seen through Evan’s eyes, that would reveal his character because he noticed them, or moved the story forward in some way.  At times, I cut most of the scene and “jumped” from one location to another rather than describe his travel.

Another place where detail became too much was in describing what characters wore.  The question became, what would Evan notice?  My point of view for most of the novel is third omniscient but close into Evan.  I am not really writing from my point of view.  In addition, does the detail Evan notices reveal his character, the character wearing the clothing, or move the story forward in some way?  Clothing can be a fun way to reveal character, too.  I also decided that Evan would be more likely to notice what a woman was wearing than a man, except under certain circumstances such as being under threat or noticing a well-cut suit that he wanted for himself.

My next task was to connect emotion to the detail.  What does Evan feel about it?  Does the detail evoke a memory?  Good or bad?  Sometimes the detail wouldn’t support an emotional connection.  However, if it did, that emotion enriched the scene and Evan’s character.  On the other hand, absence of an emotional response also revealed something important about his character at times.  We expect characters to react.  What if they don’t?  What does that say about the character?

I’m really happy that I slowed down and took my time during the final edit before I began production on the e-book.  I dreaded proofing the ePub file because I thought I was sick of the book, and I couldn’t read it another time.  But I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly Evan and the scene drew me into the story in the first chapter.  It was a fast read that I did with great care for the first round.  I found issues to correct, and that dismayed me.  But I also really enjoyed the read.  I could now see how much Patricia’s suggestions and my careful edit had improved the story and the pace.  Wow.

Due to those corrections and the need to review a corrected ePub file, my publication schedule has been pushed back.  I’m now waiting for BookNook to send me the mobi file to proof, the last step.  I don’t expect issues with this file because they’re creating it from the corrected ePub file. 

In the meantime, I continue work on the book launch marketing tasks.  The postcards arrived today and look great.  I need to update my Publishers Marketplace page to reflect the novel’s publication and my new business as editor (more on that in another post).  Publication is much closer to reality….


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