Still pounding hard at the editing, trying to get as much done as I can while I can. This morning, after breakfast, I finished the “final” draft of Big Hair Day. It comes in at a little over 62k words.
To refresh, the final draft for me is the read it aloud draft, making sure everything works and I didn’t miss anything. Anywhere the tongue stumbles for reasons other than trying to concentrate too hard is worth a check. Usually for me, this winds up involving a few word choice tweaks and sentence arrangements here and there. Historical tracking tells me that the average story going from third to final draft picks up about 1.7% in overall length. This is about a thousand words on a 60k manuscript. Anything much more usually means that I’ve gone back and expanded or added a scene because something needs more explanation than I feel I’ve given it. Anything much less means that I did a lot more of what I’d consider later draft tweaking during the 2nd draft (fixing problems).
The biggest word gains come in whatever pass I fix all of the dictation issues (if any) because dictating in a car tends to provide a lot of background noise and gets messy, and in the 3rd draft. Add in that my initial draft tends to be a little light on descriptive action and sensory engagement. There’s usually a draft that picks up 8 or 10% in word count in spite of the occasional removed scene that’s just duplicating other effort.
All of this is a long pre-amble to say that Big Hair Day is a bit of an outlier. I didn’t add any scenes during the final draft, but a lot of spots where something didn’t quite work created a bit of a cascade to smooth things out. I’m happy with the final version, but it picked up a little over 1900 words moving to that final version, a 3.2% increase. Usually, almost every scene needs a sentence or two tweaked and we pick up a few words in the smoother version. This time, the tweaks I felt needed picked up a hundred or more words in half a dozen scenes and more than usual in the rest, but only for about the first half of the book, or a little more. The back half seemed much tighter, like I was paying just a little more attention in the third draft, a lot of scenes where I’d snip or add a word or two and that was all. Of the three main exceptions, two of them are what I’d consider the most important scenes in the book.
Whether the first half is a genre issue or just that it’s the first time I’ve worked in historical fiction, which amounts to the same thing, is an interesting, though probably not relevant question. That I got more comfortable with things as the book progressed seems obvious to me.
And yes, I consider a non-speculative story set in the mid-1980s to be historical fiction. The 1980s are recent history, depending on how old you are, but they’re still definitely history.
I’ll very likely have this one in manuscript to translate into an e-book and paperback sooner rather than later. My schedule calls for it to be a March 2021 release for me, but I don’t know that I really wait that long. I’ve got a totally awesome cover image picked out.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
So I was still watching Star Trek TOS in the 80s (I’m still watching it now sometimes), but I was watching a lot of other TV SF, too. Things that stand out in my memory, in alphabetical order so there’s no calling favourites:
Alien Nation. One whole season and then five TV movies stretching deep into the 90s, proving that it was cancelled too soon. It also wouldn’t be believable if made today. I mean, the US accepting actual aliens as immigrants?
Alf was more a sitcom than SF, and probably ran a season longer than it should have. Or two. The concept was fun but the jokes were a little on the repetitious side. We all watched it, though.
Automan. I remember watching a lot of episodes of this, but thinking back, only a few scenes here and there stand out in my memory. I wonder if I should fix that or if it’s a good thing.
Greatest American Hero. A suit that gives you superpowers but for some reason you lose the instruction manual. He did eventually stop crashing into things when he was flying. I actually own the boxed set of the entire series. Picked it up for not much more than a song a few years ago.
Knight Rider. Who didn’t want to be Michael Knight back in the day? Working for a secret organization with lots of cool toys and partnered with a self-aware car that could do a lot of things on its own. Bringing help to the helpless, hope to the hopeless, hap to the hapless. Or something like that.
Max Headroom. Ah, the power of television, of ratings, of eyeballs glued to your screen. The evil of corporations. The wonder of satire. Prescient in a lot of ways.
The Powers of Matthew Star. Let’s be honest, the only thing that made this worth watching was the acting ability of Lou Gossett Jr. Otherwise, it’s your standard teenager coming of age with superpowers who doesn’t really want to go back to his home planet storyline.
Red Dwarf. If I’m honest, I didn’t discover this until there were already four series out, so it was already the 90s.
Star Trek: The Next Generation. So the writing was hit and miss for the first couple of seasons and Worf’s sash was a little frilly for a Klingon in the beginning, but Star Trek was back on TV for the first time in far, far too long.
V. Looking back, I wonder if this is where the conspiracy nuts got the idea for lizard people. Alien invasion not what it seems, underground resistance, stellar (and huge) cast.
Voyagers. Cheesy, goofy fun. There are teams of time travellers out there keeping history moving the way it’s supposed to be. Paradoxes and silliness ripe for the plucking!
TNG is still a semi-regular feature of my viewing, but a couple of the others are probably binge-worthy. There were tons more I could have mentioned, and I didn’t even touch the Fantasy side of the coin. Did I miss anyone’s favourite?
Be well, everyone.by