Thursday, April 14, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 35

Happy Thursday.

Kelly, thank you for catching the fact that yesterday’s post was labeled #33 instead of 34. I saw your comment in the morning and fixed the error pronto. So for the rest of the day, you looked like an idiot for pointing out a mistake that didn’t exist. :)

Darcie, thanks for coming out of lurking. And Ron—your “Andy” comment sure made me laugh. Don’t I remember that you’re an engineer? So much for you types having no sense of humor.

Becky, as for your question about the “Dave letter.” This is the first editorial response to a book, so it deals only with the large content issues. Story structure, character motivation, that type of thing. That’s why one paragraph on the letter can make for a whole lotta rewriting. Houses will differ, but Zondervan’s editorial process is as follows. (1) The editorial letter of “big stuff,” sometimes call the macro edit. (2) Track changes to the rewritten manuscript. This is more line by line editing. (3) Copy edits, done by a different editor—one who only does copy edits. This type of editor looks at little details—everything from typos to grammatical errors to hey, that white blouse changed to blue in the same scene. (4) Proofs. At this stage, all edits are supposed to be done, and the manuscript is typeset as it will appear in print. This is a final read to catch typos. This occurs about 3 months before the book comes out. Reviewers often have to receive their manuscripts early, so they are sent copies after the copy edit stage. This is why the manuscript for a reviewer will say that it’s unproofed.

All right. So. Where were we at the end of yesterday’s NES? Buckle your seat belts . . .

Oh, yes, I was on the phone, waiting for agent Jane’s pronouncement from Editor B about Getting Into Character.

Are you ready for this?

The house wanted it.

They were going to publish it.

Whoa. I crushed the phone to my ear, stunned. I wasn’t used to this much good news in a row. Wasn’t even sure I could handle it. Plus—when you think about it—selling Getting Into Character at that point was just plain crazy. I mean, who would listen to anything I had to say in the book? I didn’t even have a novel on the shelves yet—and I was telling other people how to write fiction?

Then there was this other slight problem. Getting Into Character was only in proposal form.

Which meant I had to write the book.

Agh! How was I gonna write this thing? I mean, the theories sounded great in nutshell form, and I used ’em in my head. But to actually set down on paper all those concepts . . . Oh, sheesh. I’d really done it now. Worked ten years to be published, and now people would know I was an absolute fraud.

Plus, don’t forget I already had agreed to write book 2 of the Chelsea Adams series, for which I had no ideas . . .

Okay, Brandilyn, breathe. You wanted this, remember? You worked hard for this.

“Hey,” Jane asked. “You there? You got pretty quiet.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m here. I’m just . . . happy as a clam. This is . . . great! Thank you!”

Oh, God, help me, help me, help me.

Well, no time to be scared outta my gourd. The contract with John Wiley & Sons was signed with no glitches—and I had to start writing the book. Pronto.

Once I got to it, I found the book easier to write than fiction. Well, naturally. Anything’s easier to write than fiction. Still, there were challenges galore. I had to figure out how to present all these concepts swishing around in my head. How do you explain the concept of Inner Rhythm to someone who’s never even heard of it, much less knows how to use it for building character actions? Or Emotion Memory. What novelist had heard of that, unless he/she happened to also study Method acting? Or Subtexting. Well, novelists could understand subtexting on a subconscious basis, but, well, uh, my writing had to be on the conscious level. How to teach the concept to someone who’d never purposely used it, when to me it was all done by feel? It was just a part of me. What exactly were the steps to figuring out when to subtext a conversation—and then presenting the underlying meaning of the dialog in places other than the words themselves?

Okay, Brandilyn, hang on, you can do this.

2000 turned into 2001 as I worked on this book.

Meanwhile, spring 2001 was approaching. When my first novel, Cast a Road Before Me, would hit shelves. I couldn’t wait for that. I still couldn’t even imagine holding the thing in my hand.

And on other fronts—Jane was still working on selling Color the Sidewalk for Me. One house we hadn’t sent it to now rose to the forefront. Did they want to see the manuscript?

Sure, send it on over.

The manuscript went to House A.

Then there was House B. A brand new one doing fiction. Wanted “serious” fiction—that is, deeply written stuff. House B only had a few slots to fill, and would be extremely picky about what manuscripts they took. But wonderful Jane talked me up—and Sidewalk was sent to House B.

Yay! Two more chances for this novel I loved! This one that I written and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten. Till doom’s day.

I never stopped to think that if I sold the thing, I might have to rewrite it—again. And when would I have time for that, with the other stuff already on my plate? But hey, wouldn’t that be a great problem to have. I was getting’ into this sell, sell, sell mode. After ten years of frustration, far be it from me to ever complain.

Eat, drink, and sell today, and who cares about the writing tasks tomorrow?

Read Part 36


Kelly K. : ) said...

Ahh! Brandilyn you clever girl ; )I should have known that you would change the error so that I would look like an idiot all day on Day 33/34. You suspense writers are always a step ahead, aren't you?
Maybe you set us up and I bit.

The scary thing is that I am usually oblivious (hence the stupid spelling error in my review on Amazon! Drat!) Ahhh!

I am beginning to think that you won't run out of words or stories. Your blog posts are always well worth the read. You could always slap a cover on them.

BTW - in DON (Dead of Night) I really appreciated the Annie emotional inner struggles with Stephen - pretty honest.

Oh, and Kelly was my favorite character name. KK too cute!

What is happening with Paige Manders and her restless kinship with the living dead? You should have, what, about 60 pages by now?

D. Gudger said...

Since I'm still trying to demystify the whole publishing process (I find I sometimes spend more time trying to figure out the industry than I do actual writing)I have some questions.
Am I getting this straight: non-fiction book proposals can be submitted before the book is written, whereas fiction mss need to be complete before the proposal is written?

Also, how do you go about researching the details for your novels? Mine doesn't involve murder, but it does involve false reporting, false accusations, and assualts. I need to have police, detectives and lawyers involved peripherally in the story, but I'm not an expert in any of those areas - the library often doesn't have the resources I'm looking for . . .

Becky said...

Whoo-hoo. Moving from the problems of no to the problems of yes. Great stuff, as always, Brandilyn.

Thanks for your explanation re. the various edits (though I'm not sure I understand the difference between copy edits and line edits). So when you say that you sometimes have both Dave and Karen edit your novels, one is doing the macro edit and the other the line or copy edit?


Rich said...

Becky, good question on the edits. Me too.
Brandilyn: I'm enjoying the story now that you're getting to the "yes" part. But the story is arcing from disappointment to scary!