Join me in warmly welcoming Kate M. Colby, a talented author whose first book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, will be available this Thursday. I’m very excited to be part of her book launch blog tour. I’ve been following Kate’s progress since the beginning (almost) and the end result is astoundingly beautiful. Read on to find out how she went from first draft to the final product. This post is part of a series on the process of writing a novel.
A lot people have this idea that writers simply sit down, pound out tens of thousands of words, then send the manuscript off for publication. For some writers, maybe it does work like that. I mean, out of the millions of writers in the world, there has to be one who is that lucky, right? Well, I am not. My first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1), has gone through several revisions of all types, and the finished product is much different than the first draft.
It began with NaNoWriMo 2014. Really, it began much longer ago than that, but I’ll spare you my autobiography. I’d wanted to write a novel about as long as I could physically write, and I finally decided to just do it. That’s it. I wish I could tell you there was some grand secret, some defining moment—a muse descending from the clouds, perhaps—but there wasn’t. I’m an all or nothing person, and I flipped the switch from “nothing” to “all.” It was that easy—and that difficult.
For those of you who like more detail, this was my process. About three days before National Novel Writing Month 2014 commenced (it’s an international event where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in one month), I wrote an outline for the novel idea I thought I was most likely to succeed in writing. Then, starting November 1st and ending November 30th (except November 15th, my one “break” day), I sat down at my computer every day, usually during my lunch break at work and at night after dinner. I wrote in spurts varying between 30 minutes and two hours without break and without stopping to analyze my writing. After my writing day was over, I would write a quick blog post to share my progress with my fellow writers and hold myself accountable to my goals. On November 30th, I had roughly 80,000 words and a finished first draft.
Oh, how I wish I could tell you it ended there, with a perfect draft. Of course, it didn’t. Instead, here’s what I did:
December 2014 – Nothing. I needed to gain objectivity before editing.
January 2015 – Printed out manuscript and made edits in red pen
February & March – Revised typed draft based on manual edits
April – Sent manuscript to content editor and beta readers
May & June – Revised manuscript based on their comments
June through August – Bounced manuscript back and forth a few times with my line editor
September – Sent manuscript to proofreader, did my own proofread, prepared for publication
October – Did a final proofread and published!
In total, The Cogsmith’s Daughter went through eight revisions. Eight. The crazy thing is, that’s not even an incredibly high number. Many authors put their manuscripts through three or four revisions before they even send it to an editor!
So, after all that editing, what has changed in my novel? Probably a lot more than I remember and definitely a lot more than I realize. But here is a general list to give you an idea:
- During the first revision, I added in an entirely new chapter that did not exist in the first draft.
- After my content edit, I deleted the epilogue and rewrote the final chapter.
- The romantic subplot went from junior high hormones and pathetic co-dependence to a much more mature relationship where the characters keep their dignity.
- I changed a crucial detail about King Archon to make him less two-dimensional.
- In my first draft, I completely failed at tagging dialog properly, so literally every line of dialog has been restructured.
- I removed a lot of pointless internal monologues where Aya fixated on her hatred of her enemies.
- Every instance of “and then,” which is against editing house rules.
- Quite a bit of “telling” has been replaced with body language and descriptive dialog.
Again, that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. But the point is this…
Writers: Do yourself a favor, flip the switch to “all,” and write your first draft. You can edit an 80,000 word mess. You can’t edit a blank page. Within a year, you could have achieved your dream.
Readers: Your favorite book likely looks nothing like it did in its infancy. Appreciate how much time and effort your favorite author put into it for you—and always ask him/her how it changed. You’ll receives lots of great trivia!
As for my final product, if you’d like to give it a read, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.
Don’t like leaving things up to chance? Me either. You can pre-order your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at these fine retailers. Note: when it officially releases on Thursday, October 15th, the ebook price is going up! Grab yours today.
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: www.KateMColby.com.
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