Oh man, Truthwitch was tough. I wrote the first 200 pages in a whirlwind of inspiration in March/April 2013. It took me about a month, honestly. I stopped at 200 pages because at this point in my career, I don’t NEED to write an entire book. I can sell things on proposal (50-200 p of a book + long synopsis of whole story).
I revised the 200 pages with my CP and my agent for a few months (a LOT of that time was actually just waiting on my agent to get back to me). The book went out on submission in September and within 2 weeks an editor at Tor wanted it…but she wanted something called a Revise & Resubmit.
So, I spent ~8 days revising for this awesome editor (she wanted me to remove the only-briefly-there POVs, simplify the magic a bit, and cut out the prologue). I did what she asked (it felt right!), and sold to Tor in November 2013 (note: I wasn’t allowed to share this news for 5 months. It darn near killed me!).
THEN began the hard part. I had NO IDEA what to write. I waffled and worried for a few weeks, trying to reconnect to the spark and love that had first inspired the book.
Well, I couldn’t find the love but I forced myself to write onward anyway starting in mid-Dec 2013. ~1.5 months later (end of January 2014), I had 105K of a first verrrry rough draft. I revised it thoroughly, and at the end of February, I gave it to my CP. She was like, “Naaaah. This is all wrong.” She said it nicer than that, of course, but she pointed out how I’d totally drifted from my original focus/voice into a younger YA tone. This book was always intended as upper YA/adult, so I really needed to fix this error.
I dove back in, reading adult fantasy as I worked and trying to reconnect with those characters who’d first EXPLODED in my mind. 2 weeks later, I had completely gutted the second half on an emotional, character arc level. Round 2 was WAY better–I could just feel it in my bones.
So I started working with some other CPs/betas during March. They helped me spot some plot/character issues, but I still felt like I could make the book even better. Then I read a book that was getting a lot of buzz at the time (shall not name for you), and it was so SHALLOW to me. The world felt so 2D, and it (quite frankly) pissed me off that this book was being called “fantasy.” Now don’t get me wrong: I actually enjoyed the book I read, I just felt it could have been taken up a notch.
Out of fear that my own book could be “taken up a notch” as well, I went back through and HEAVILY revised one more time–deepening conflict, pushing my characters harder, and really trying to tap into the heart of each of their stories.
I turned the book into my editor at the end of April. It was WAY more work than I ever anticipated (not gonna lie), but I really wanted this book to be the BEST IT CAN BE. And I had been (and still am) willing to take some more time to get it there.
Well, 3.5 months (mid-August), I got my first edit letter. Some of it I totally agreed with; some of it took some time for me to come around to. One BIG issue my editor had was that the book was 160K words. She wanted to get it down to 115K. O_O
Well, 1.5 months later (end of September), I had removed an ENTIRE subplot, reassembled the story, tightened the HELL out of it, and gotten it to ~118K. At that point, I learned we were going to be picking up the pace on things. Rather than have a second round of revisions (as is standard), we’d combine line edits and revisions into one.
I got the revisions in November. I had 2 weeks to do them. It was SO HARD because everything felt really scattered in my head. We were changing the MC’s name again (from Sorsha to Noelle to, finally, Iseult), and I had made such huge plot changes in the last round of revisions…Nothing was coherent anymore in my head.
But I met the deadline, and early December, the book went off to copyedits.
I got copyedits early February with 1.5 weeks to do them. This would’ve been fine, except that as I read the book, I realized a LOT of the rushed changes I’d made in the last round weren’t going to work–plus there were some things I needed to change for book 2.
In 1.5 weeks, I gutted that book. I took it apart, fixed what needed fixing (a lot of the voice had gotten lost during that last round of revisions and tightening! I needed to bring it back!), and then I turned it in (~1 week late. So 2.5 weeks after I got it).
THEN, my editor was like, “GASP! What are all these huge changes! This is copyedits! We can’t do this!” To which I was all, “Crap! I AM SO SORRY.” Then, in a single weekend, she read the whole book again, made some more editorial notes, and I had 1 day–ONE DAY–to revise one more time.
We did it, though, and now that I’m reading the first pass pages, I’m actually impressed by how smooth everything is! I mean, it was all so scattered in my head by the end–so many rushed deadlines! So much cracking the story apart to reassemble it for more impact.
At the end of the day, very little changed. The events are the same, the characters are the same, and yet the WAY I told the story is so much stronger for all the revising and polishing and pushing myself to do just one more round.
I’m tired just thinking about all that work. But on the bright side, it makes me feel better about the current state of book 2–which is a Giant Hot Mess. I pushed myself to make Truthwitch the best it could be, and I’ll do the same for Windwitch. As Pat Rothfuss once said, “You’ll only miss a deadline once, but your book will suck forever.” ;)