Yes, Editing

Still at it. Eegads.

I just cut a huge scene (over 4000 words) and finally got the thing below 100K. It is now at 99,367. The document where I put all the cut stuff (I save everything) is just 11,680 words. Doing some math, I’ve added over 10,000 words, almost as much as I’ve cut.

This is good.

I hope it doesn’t feel choppy. It does now so I’ll need to keep an eye on that. I keep having to check stuff because things have changed. Meaning the big plot change. Pain In The Arse.

Cut:

I did not recognize the Malon at the podium. Not that I had personally met that many. Like Mother Maya, she was a woman of power. Her clothing was a dark blue with white accents. It looked very similar to the brown uniforms of the security folk. Behind her sat four others, one of which was Mother Maya. I did not see Arrogant Bitch and Secretary but I did notice the four brown uniforms nearby. The speaker waited until there was silence before she began. She had her device in front of her but never looked at it.

“I am First Captain Rema. We who are the crew of Mother Five bid you welcome. We wish we could have met under different circumstances. The ship and her crew have traveled across a large portion of the galaxy you know as the Milky Way. During our travels we have met many sentient beings. Some we have assisted, others we merely observed and reported. We have seen planets with four moons and tides with waves higher than this room. We have seen planets with two suns that gave them just two seasons. We have met species who walked on six legs and built cities that would dwarf this ship. We have met species with mouths with four rows of teeth yet sang songs that would make us weep. This ship and her crew have visited your solar system on a regular basis as it is part of our route, for lack of a better word. When it was decided someone needed to be watching you more consistently, Mother Five volunteered with enthusiasm. For over fifty of your years, we have watched humanity in both its beauty and its horror. It is good to finally meet you in person.

Edit Snag

I got nearly done with the first edits when a discussion with Precious brought up a flaw in the plot. And, of course, it is an integral part of the plot. And, of course, it is in the beginning. Which means some major re-writing.

So I am thinking of ways of how to fix it. For once, it’s a problem with not enough tension vs too much. What an odd problem for me.

Even with the cutting I am doing, the dang thing continues to grow. Right now it is at 101,936. Bigger than when I said the end.

Some of the growth is from where I rewrote a bit in the beginning. Chapter One is always my most difficult. In BGCFA, the first two chapters were dropped completely after the book was bought. They just didn’t move the story forward. In this book, I actually added a Prologue that is actually more of an epilogue. Ah, foreshadowing tastes so sweet.

How Gloriously Odd

I am still editing To Sleep. No big surprise there.

What is the surprise is the word count. I ended it at 100,858. That gave me a lot of room for deleting the unnecessary. A few days ago, it dipped down to just over 98K which was fine. Still plenty of room.

I just saved it and happened to glance at the word count. 100,419.

Are the shoemaker’s elves coming in here in the mornings and adding stuff while I sleep?? I am beginning to think so.

Granted, I am adding a lot. Clarifying a few things. But none of it is unnecessary. Still, I am deleting sentences and paragraphs. I cut a huge chunk earlier. Yet, I am again over 100K.

How gloriously odd indeed.

I just checked the submissions guidelines for my publisher and their cut-off is 120K so I don’t have to hack and slash to make it fit. Or make an immediate sequel.

Still Editing, Sigh

Well, I cut a big chunk out. Just under 4000 words. The story will survive without it but it still hurt.

The wordcount dipped quite a bit for a while but it now has grown back to over 98,000 words. It ended with 371 pages and is now 365. So, not too bad but there’s still time for me to kill it.

My goal is to finish the edits at no less than 95K. And to finish it soon. I’m pushing myself to get this done and submitted.

Not sure if I will be seeking beta readers or not.

Here’s some of what I cut. I may still use it, not sure.

The horticulture center used a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture to grow the plants. Basically this meant the plants were not in soil but in water. This water was filtered by live fish in a huge tank. Their water, containing all sorts of nutrients in the form of fish poop and a substance the fish produced from several glands located behind their gills, was sent to the plants. Basically. Julie could explain it much better but I was just in awe of the live fish. They were the size of an adult trout, but all similarities stopped there. Their scales were not flat against their bodies but protruded out and acted like cilia by assisting in propelling them through the water. They had fins that were as close to arms and hands as a fish could get, I suppose.

I knew Malons were vegans so I knew the fish were not eaten. However, Frankie didn’t know this or had forgotten. “What do they taste like?”

The horticulture specialist looked like Frankie had just asked her what her child tasted like. I started to explain but a voice came out over a speaker near the tank. “Friend, we are not consumable.”

We all just froze still in place. “Did that fish just speak?”

“No, I did.” One of them, the largest, swam to the end of the tank where we stood. The others arranged themselves behind him. Her. Whatever. “We are a sentient species and it is considered quite rude to consume a fellow explorer.”

(…)

“I apologize greatly for my error.” Frankie got down on her knees so she was even with the fish.

“Apology accepted. Put your hand in our water so that we may know you.”

Frankie, with only slight hesitation, stood on her tiptoes and put her hand in the water. The big fish and several others came up and, I guess, sniffed her hand. The others swam away but the big one suddenly bit Frankie’s pinkie finger. A large amount of blood could be seen in the water. Frankie grimaced but did not remove her hand.

“You are in us now. You are, in our ways, one of us.”

The horticulture specialist was again shocked but she had the presence of mind to have Frankie remove her hand and wrap it in a cloth. Mona tapped something on her device. “Interesting. They injected you with a numbing compound to help with the pain. I have instructed the nanites to regrow the tip of your finger. You will not feel it at all.”

Frankie’s eyes got real big. I don’t think she knew how much the fish had bitten. I think it was Mona’s calm that kept her from cussing up a blue streak. Instead, she started grinning and turned back to the tank. “So, how do I taste?”

If fish could laugh, these fish would have been rolling on the rocks. “To use a human phrase, you taste like chicken.” Once we stopped laughing, the fish invited us to come to the larger tank and swim with them. They promised to not bite anyone else. I think Frankie was going to take them up on the offer. The rest of us were not interested that much.

In Which She Says: The End

That’s right. My SF piece tentatively called To Sleep is done. 100371 words. I aimed for over 100K to try and give the edits some room to hack and slash. I like this story. There’s some bits here and there that ramble and some details to fine tune but overall, this is a good story.

I will let it simmer for a month or so then do the edits. Part of me says to just clean it up, finish the loose ends, and send it off. Errors can be fixed with the official RCE editor (going on the assumption RCE will want it). But another part of me wants to fine tune it a lot, to make it a solid plot with no holes or problems. Then submit it.

I think I will go with the second, of course. I will not let myself fall into the perpetual cat-licking I am doing with Simple Sarah.

Science Fiction Is Hard!

The problem with writing science fiction is that what was once fiction is rapidly becoming reality. Writers have to stay ahead of the actual science. In Bradbury’s time, the concept of space ships and aliens were so very fictional. Now? Not so much. Oh, sure, we’ve not found aliens yet but we’re finding more and more planets and several that are within that “Goldilocks zone”.

There’s actually two kinds of science fiction. There’s the ‘soft’, which is the science in the book may or may not be actually, physically possible. And there’s ‘hard’ where the science is actually quite possible or is provable. I’m no where smart enough to write hard fiction.

Which brings me to my point. I’m writing a science fiction novel. I have tried this one before but it didn’t feel right and I ended it on this really out-of-nowhere over-the-top ending just to put it and myself out of my misery. I have another one, too, but it is in perpetual research and I sincerely doubt it will ever be written. But I love the research part! Anyway, back to the story at hand. I decided one of the problems with the original story is that it was too far removed from the emotional impact I felt it needed. Some big stuff was happening, emotional stuff, and I just never got the reader close enough. So I put on my Big Girl Pants and am rewriting it in first person.

Gasp! Say it ain’t so! However will you limit yourself to just one viewpoint? Are you even capable of it?

It is so. I do indeed feel very limited. There are some behind-the-scenes stuff that I cannot show and it irks me. And yes, I am very capable of writing in first person. It ain’t easy but I’m doing it. And I feel like I am doing a darn good job. And, by george that emotion is right there. Raw and available for the reader to soak up. In my humble opinion, that is.

And I watched the one that gave a far too brief introduction into the Universe As I Now Know It. In a span of a few hours, I’d gone from a pre-med student who kinda sorta knew SETI existed to being able to tell SETI where to aim their radio telescopes. Except those telescopes no longer existed. Nothing on Earth existed anymore. My apartment. My bike. The very expensive stacks of textbooks. My parents’ graves. All of it, gone.

I was in the kitchen, pacing. I even picked up the chair and considered throwing it. I guess I got myself all worked up. I felt a kind of pinch on my shoulder. My vision narrowed and I felt myself falling.

And then I woke up again.

#

I had hoped that when I opened my eyes, I’d see the white ceiling in my apartment. Or maybe the brown ceiling in Jose’s. I’d hoped that perhaps maybe wouldn’t it be great if I had been dreaming. But, no, it was that sickly, institutional gray-green instead. It was not a dream. I was back in the infirmary.

It was a small room. Just a toilet, a small counter and a tiny sink. In the toilet was a bluish water like in port a-potties. But it sure didn’t smell like one. There wasn’t much smell at all. I sat down to do my business and opened the small box. Inside was a simple bar of soap that smelled like lavender. I sniffed that soap like I was huffing spray paint. That smell, a very familiar smell, was real. The soap felt slick. That was real. My pee was warm and the sound of it hitting the toilet was real. I liked real things with real sensations.

I finished my business, flushed the toilet and washed my hands. I must have washed them about five times. I marveled at the lather, at how much just a few rubs of the soap on my palm could produce. Very real lather and very real water that washed it away.

It felt good to move at a fast pace. It felt good to sweat. It felt real like the water and the soap. My breasts were not comfortable flopping about as I jogged but I accepted the discomfort as another sign I was alive and real and whole. Tears wet my cheeks as I thought of jogging through Fairmount Park. Of how the sounds of the kids yelling, of the softball game, of the wind in the trees, the roar of the river. I thought of jogging along the river and watching the scullers. Gone. All of it gone.

The floor came up to meet me and I rolled off the treadmill. The alien wall on the alien ship in outer space was a far cry from jogging in a park. Crying, however, no matter where you do it, hurts just as much. At some point I felt someone come in and leave. Shortly after, or hours later, I couldn’t tell, someone picked me up but I fought them. I didn’t want to be comforted. I didn’t want to be consoled. I wanted to cry, dammit. I wanted to be miserable. I wanted to scream. When I felt something on my shoulder, I jerked away from it. I must not have gotten the full dose because even though I was dizzy as hell, I still was able to move away from…I didn’t know who it was. My vision was blurred by the tears and the swelling of my eyelids.

Up ahead near a large empty space where this aisle and an equally wide one sideways one met stood a crowd of women. Human women. I started smiling. I looked over at Julie and she, too, was grinning big. Humans. Awake humans.

We were mobbed by smiling, laughing, crying, hugging humans. Soft flesh, naturally warm. Bare skin, featherless and smooth. Light skin, brown skin, skin so black it reflected light. Hair. Brown hair, black hair, blonde, red, colors in between. Curly, straight, short, long, bouncy, flat, wonderful hair. Lovely women. Everyone of us a lesbian. It was better than any Indigo Girls concert could have ever been. It was orgasmic without the mess but just as wet. We all were crying. Happy, joyous tears of recognition in people I’d never met.

How long we all absorbed each other, I have no clue.

I have managed to bang out over 36K words so far. I did my usual stumbling at about mile marker 25K but Precious and I did a brainstorming session at Blue Mountain Pizza and I worked out some of the plot holes.

I know several folk would wish I would finish another Butch Girl book. Hell, I wish I could, too! But for some reason, they just don’t feel right. And no, I’m not even going to contemplate doing them in first person. I ain’t that stoopid.

Alive But Unwell

Yes, I am alive. Yes, I am writing. Yes, I am also playing games more than writing.

And yes, I am unwell. I would say I am sick but that’s a given.

I have bronchitis. This is week two. I’m tired of coughing. Tired of being so damn tired. I am getting better though. I can hold up the phone while texting now. Last week I couldn’t. I went to the doc Friday and got these huge antibiotics. Huge. But by Monday night, I wasn’t markedly better so back I went. Now I am a steroid and a codeine cough syrup that, for some reason, makes me cough. Weird I am, yes.

What am I writing? Well, working on Harri’s story. It’s going along well. I’m working hard to make it funny. I am also working on a Science Fiction novel that is going well, too. That one will be in first person and is interesting to write. Being in just one person’s head is difficult!

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions but if I did, I would resolve to get a book sold this year.