Well, it took quite a lot of hard work and many long nights, but the first draft of The Children of the Sun, the final book in the II AM Trilogy, is now complete. The whole story is laid out, and everything came together pretty well. I've been waiting to write the closing epilogue for several years, and it feels good to finally have the words out on the screen. Now to begin the long and arduous process of taking the first draft and turning it into something worth publishing!
The Children of the Sun is the longest single work I've ever written, by a fairly wide margin, weighing in at 177,425 words. Blood Hunt was 154,148. Since most people think more in terms of pages than words, I'll give my best estimate: The print edition of Blood Hunt is 516 pages long including all the extra pages like the dedication, author's note, the TCotS sneak peek, etc. I expect that the print edition of TCotS will be close to 600 pages long.
So, let's discuss next steps. The first thing I'm doing is taking a short break from writing. One week, to be exact, to let my brain recuperate and distance itself from the work a bit. I'm going to play some video games and relax, and then I'm going to go back to the manuscript and tweak a few things that I already know I don't like. After that, I will send it out to several trusted readers, who will in turn read it and give me their feedback. This is hugely helpful in identifying inconsistencies, plot holes, and parts of the story that just don't "work" for people.
Once feedback is gathered, I will begin the second draft. This involves a complete rewrite of the book in a new word processing document, with the first one open on the other side of my monitor. It usually goes much faster than the first draft, and I will be setting myself a much higher nightly word count for that reason.
After the second draft is done, I take another short break, and let my wife read it and give final comments. Then I go back to work, and produce a third draft. This one isn't rewritten from scratch. Rather, I duplicate the second draft and then go through it making edits and tweaks as I need to. Once that draft is finished, it goes off to my editor, Lauren. She'll read through the manuscript several times, making multiple passes for tone, consistency, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and so forth. Then she'll hand me a "marked up" document with all of her changes, thoughts and suggestions, and I'll go back through the manuscript one more time, incorporating her edits. At that point my work as a writer ends, and my work as production designer begins — that's how it goes when you format your own print and eBooks, design your own cover, and build your own promotional website.
But we'll cover that process in more detail when we get to it! For now, the important part is: the first draft's done. The story's written. We're still on schedule for November, 2012. I hope you'll stick with my for the ride!
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