June 28, 2012

Anatomy of an eBook:  Something Real

I finally got around to updating my progress meter here on the blog.  I'm at 74% of an anticipated 65K-word novel and it's still June, so I'm very pleased.

I was keeping up with my 1000-words-a-day output until last week, when I got caught up in editing my dictated text (I prefer for the Dragon software to transcribe it into MS Word rather than the Scrivener software I use for writing) and then transferring it into the appropriate places into my Scrivener document.  I have to make sure this text is in good shape, because once I delete the voice file, it's gone forever and there's no going back to listen to what I actually dictated. 

Then, a few days ago, I noticed a timeline error.  Horrors!

Back when I was writing for Arabesque (seems like a million years ago), the editor sent out a rare blanket communication to all the writers telling us that we had to pay more attention to the timelines of our stories, because the line editors were seeing a lot of errors that required considerable time to revise to fit properly into the story.  If you're thinking this must be a common error writers make, you're absolutely correct.  It's also one of the worst.  Not only can a timeline error require great effort and extensive re-writing to correct, but if it is not caught before publication it can render the entire novel into an implausible mumbo-jumbo, and I've read at least one book where this actually happened (written by a popular author who has had many reissues of earlier books, this particular title has only had an initial release, which tells me that the editors became aware of the error after they published it).

One thing I liked about one of the free writing software programs I used in the past, Storybook, was that it had a section to include the timeframe of the action.  Since that time I discovered Scrivner, and while it does not have this feature, it is by far the best writing software I've used.  I understand that some writers use a timeline program in conjunction with it, but I've found an easier way to track when the action takes place:  I simply include the month and year at the start of each chapter summary.  I can easily switch to the corkboard view, which places each summary on a separate index card, and see an overview that includes the timeframe and gives me a complete overview of my work-in-progress.

Timelines are especially challenging in Something Real, since the majority of this book takes place between Save The Best For Last and The Heat of Heat, while the shorter second part takes place after The Heat of Heat has concluded.  A lot happened in between these two stories, and I have to be able to provide accurate updates of where the major characters are in the latter half...everything from where they are in their careers to how long they've been married and how old any children they have might be.  It took me two days to straighten this out, but I'm happy to say I've got it under control.

So it looks like I'm still on schedule for late summer publication, although much of this will depend on my editor.

Stay tuned!