I got The Border Guard back from the developmental editor. Some bits need clarifying, I removed the third chapter that’d been a late insert, and there was information that needed moving up. There were some other bits that needed work which I think I’ve done enough on, though I’ve reached the point where I just can’t tell. But the main problem remains that I don’t describe enough, or in enough detail.
Descriptions don’t come easily for me. Those are the bits I tend to skim over when reading. It’s simply how my mind works, focussing more on the abstract of plot and dialogue. So even if I do describe stuff, it may not be that interesting. Because it’s not what I want to be writing. I try to counter this, but since I have trouble even telling where I need to describe more, I could easily be missing places I should add more, or not doing enough in the places I do add stuff.
While it was more the details than the overall structure that needed work, I find myself questioning whether my writing instincts are all wrong. Given my lack of success so far, something in my instincts is probably lacking. And I hired an editor to help me get the manuscript into a state that the traditional publishing system prefer, so unless I disagree with something for a reason I’m clear on, I’ll go with her advice.
I had tried spreading the information out initially, to avoid slowing the opening (and without being too infodumpy). This involved introducing some ideas but not fully explaining them until later, which I can see is dumb. But rearranging stuff, I’m not sure whether I’ve slowed the early story down. I’ve done at least a handful of passes on the opening chapters to polish the inserts and pare them down to make minimal impact on the flow.
But I’m at the point where I can no longer tell. The point at which I’ve stared at it so closely that I find I can’t really step back to see the larger picture. It is the shape its going to be in my mind, and all I can do is tinker at the edges, polishing it.
I’m not even sure I’m explaining this well.
While the edit was generally positive, I can’t help fretting over every detail.
Since this is the first things I’ve written in a while of a commercially acceptable length (90K) I’m going to try the traditional submission route, in hopes of finding somewhere that’ll do the promotion I’m useless at. Which I realise may be a forlorn hope, since all we hear about is publishers increasingly offloading that stuff onto authors. But there’s little traction on the dozen plus novels I’ve self-published, so trying one this way is hardly much of a gamble (he says envisioning a dozen ways in which this could make things worse).
So I’m starting with looking at agents. In the UK. For a fantasy novel. It’s a small pool. Especially since some of the stuff I write is more crime/thriller, so I’d also like someone who could represent a few genres. But I’ll go with fantasy primarily.
Since submissions are generally the first three chapters or 50 pages, those are the ones I’ve been focussing on, going over and over them, again and again. They’re also the ones that have had stuff moved up into them, making them seem more bloated to me than they probably are.
I’ve been switching, with increasing rapidity, between worrying they’re not good enough, to stupid levels of confidence that the genius therein will shine through regardless. Agents surely look for the potential within the work won’t they? Unless mine is the dozenth they’ve had to read that day, and they’re looking for any excuse to decline and move on to the next.
The pace of change of this manic-depressive cycle has gotten so fast that I now seem able to hold both viewpoints concurrently.
So I reached the point where I had to submit it and hope it isn’t as bad as I fear.
Anxieties will ultimately stop me ever putting anything out if I listen to them too long, so once I reach the point where it feels like I’m doing things by rote and not taking anything in, it’s time to step away from it. Either for a short while, or releasing it to wherever. I’m reasonably sure it’s in an overall good state, or as good as I can make it barring minor tweaking.
Or I was until I finished that sentence, and I’m again thinking I should have done more. But I’ll never escape that, even for books I released years ago. All I can do is move on to the next project, giving that my attention.