August 20, 2011

Edits done

I'm done editing my book, and the manuscript is now in the hands of proofreaders. I went through two rounds of editing. In the first round, I changed about 25% of the text, either fixing mistakes, tightening the story, or fleshing out something that I thought needed more elaboration. Because of how much I changed, I wanted to go through it again from beginning to end. But first, I took a week off from the manuscript so that it wouldn't be so fresh in my mind. The second round resulted in only minor changes to less than 5% of the story.

I'm satisfied that the book is close to as good as it'll get without feedback from someone other than myself. That's what I'm waiting for now -- independent and (more) objective feedback. I have no idea whether that will result in major changes or minor tweaks. I expect to find out next month.

In the meantime, I'm working on a short story. It's an idea that I've been turning around in my head, but I didn't want to devote any time to it until I was done writing my book. Now, while I have a break, it's a good way to keep practicing the craft and scratch an itch at the same time.

August 9, 2011

A great book is like a drug

I just read a a great book, Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series. How did I know it was a great book? Because I couldn't put it down. I couldn't stop reading it. I didn't want to go outside, I didn't want to watch TV, I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to sleep. I just wanted to read the book. It was like a drug. I couldn't get enough and I didn't want it to end.

What made the book so great? I've read many good books with interesting plots and characters, but I think the main difference between The Hunger Games/Catching Fire and other books I've read is how engaged I became with the characters. Contrast that with Stephen King's The Stand, the last book I started reading and put aside to read Catching Fire. For all of King's supposed prowess in character development, I couldn't care less what happens to the people in the book. It wouldn't bother me the least bit if all of them died from the plague. On the other hand, I feel like Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games novels is someone I know. I care what happens to her. When something bad befalls her in the story, I feel it as if it happened to a friend. Harry Potter is another example of a great book. (Not all seven books in the series are great IMHO, but at least some of them are.) I feel like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are my friends. Even the loss of characters
 like Sirius and Dobby strikes a chord.

Is the book I'm writing a great book? Sadly, I would have to say no. It's a good book, and I like it (much more than I like anything I've read from Stephen King), but it's not at the level of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. Will I write a great book one day? Maybe. Great books account for less than 5% of the books I've read. It would be quite an accomplishment if I become good enough to write one. It's definitely something to strive for.

August 6, 2011

Started The Stand, but putting it aside

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to read The Stand after reading Stephen King's On Writing. A week ago, I started reading it. Two hundred pages later, I'm putting it aside. Everything that I dislike about other Stephen King novels I've tried to read before are in The Stand. King suffers from what he himself calls "diarrhea of the word processor." His fans call it character development, but I just find it long, boring, and unnecessary. Will I continue reading The Stand in the future? Maybe. In the meantime, I'm going to start reading Catching Fire, the second book in Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series. I read The Hunger Games about two months ago and loved it. After a week of diarrhea, it's time for something better.