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Writing on a Learning Curve

There’s an oft-repeated idea among writers that each manuscript is better than the last, in terms of craft. The more you write, edit, get feedback, revise, the more you learn. Your pacing gets better, your prose gets tighter. Your whole career as a writer is a macrocosm of the process of editing a single book. Each round makes it better; with each round, you learn something.

I’ve written two novels. The first has had the crap revised out of it and is querying. I’m in my first round of edits on the second.

The first, FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN, started as a forum role-playing game when I was in tenth grade. I began writing the novel version not long after that, and it stalled for several years before I revived for a second forum. It was only after that stalled that I became serious about writing this story and finished the first draft, a little less than two years ago.

The advertising banner for the second forum version.

Though I scrapped a lot of the original, I was still working with content that was six+ years old. It needed a lot of editing. The stuff I added to the new first draft mimicked my earlier style, so that needed trimmed down too. It was my first concerted to write and edit a novel for publication, and it was a crash course on wordiness, pacing, characterization, voice, all that.

Fast forward to September 2013, which is when I started my sci-fi first draft. I wrote it without an outline, 2k words a day (give or take), and finished it in two months. I let it sit for a few weeks and then started editing it right before Christmas.

And…I haven’t done much. And it’s kind of weird.

I’m almost through the MS and all I’ve done is clean up some prose and confirm some spellings. It makes me nervous. It makes me wonder if I let it sit long enough. Where is my plot overhaul? Where is my pile of cut words?

It got me thinking about this idea of improvement with each manuscript. I went into this round of edits expecting to gut my MS the same way I did the first one, but the truth of the matter is these manuscripts were not created equal. I was a much better writer in September 2013 than I was in June 2012–or in 2006!

Does this mean my sci-fi MS needs no editing? Please. What nonsense. But suffice it to say I’m eager to get new eyes on it, because it looks like I’ll need someone else to point problems out and jumpstart my brain.

So, on that note, I am looking for beta readers and critique partners! Here is the (really, really) rough blurb for the MS, which is still untitled. If you’re interested in reading, drop me a line in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @CaitSpivey.

Five years ago, eighteen-year-old Murray Baines ran away from home in a sentient spaceship she named Lane. This incredible being can jump fluidly through time and space, and he’s the only one of his kind Murray’s ever seen; but she asks no questions. Instead, she uses his talents to steal and trick her way through the universe, just her and Lane.

All that changes when she smacks into Blythe in a marketplace. With a male body and a preference for female pronouns, Blythe is confusing and inconvenient and all Murray wants to do is drop her stowaway off as soon as possible.

They’re attacked on Blythe’s home planet by a hauntingly familiar creature who is able to travel the same insane distances just as quickly as Lane. The creature follows them as they jump from galaxy to galaxy until finally Murray realizes: she can’t run away this time. She has to solve the mystery of Lane and the creature before her reason for running is exposed.


3 thoughts on “Writing on a Learning Curve

  1. I know what you mean about needing another pair of eyes! I’d be happy to beta read – it might take me a couple of weeks to get to it as I have a few other things I’m editing at the moment, but feel free to email me at 🙂

    1. Awesome, thanks Emma! I’m finishing it up this weekend, and then I send it out next week. 😀

      And I so feel you on having a lot of projects. No rush!

  2. […] on the NA sci-fi are going smoothly–a little too smoothly, in fact. Still don’t have a clue what to call it, because I am the worst at titles. But, […]

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