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Accountability Post 2021 Week 42

Introduction to the Accountability Post 2021 Week 42

I got the results of the developmental edit. It’s the fist professional service I ever purchased. I’d heard good thing about Reedsy, so I started there. I also compared it to other services, but in the end, I went with a Reedsy editor.

You might be wondering what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a developmental edit. You might be wondering if after reading it, I’ve been trying to reconstruct a shattered ego. Though you might remember that in my last Accountability Post, I had said there was a non-zero chance I’d skip this week. Yet here I am!

That’s a hint. But let’s talk about the numbers for last week first.

Accountability Post 2021 Week 42 By the Numbers

The Basics

My output last week had been higher than most weeks. Word count hit 10,259 and the total reached 133,035. Here’s what my output looked like last week:

I had unexpected casting issues! Plus, realistic space combat is hard. Partly because I don’t instinctively know what “realistic” is!

My output dropped to 5,445 words — about half of the previous week! But I had three very, very good reasons. At least, that’s what I tell myself. See what you think!

These are NOT Excuses

  1. Space combat is hard to get right. I’m not writing Star Wars, where an X-Wing flies like it’s in an atmosphere. That’s fine for a science fantasy. But I’m not writing a science fantasy. Nor am I writing Expeditionary Force, where the main character has access to an ancient genius artificial intelligence to grant the characters super advanced tech. My characters have to fight in Apollo-era craft on steroids. No warp drive. Rudimentary shields. Basic particle weapons that aren’t as powerful as the high-powered industrial lasers. The ships of this era don’t even have artificial gravity without spinning something! Thinking through the tactics and counter-measures in that kind of environment is hard. Well, it’s hard for me, anyway.
  2. Shift change finally caught up to me! You know how in Star Trek, Chekov is almost always on the bridge? Either the dude never sleeps, or the action always took place on his shift. I’d gotten away with focusing on the Indiana’s Red shift for the entire book and the first 2/3s of the second. But because of the first point about space combat, I had to have the enemy act during the shift from Red to Blue shift. That means I needed to cast the pilot, co-pilot, lead engineer, lead security officer, and the shift’s doctor for Blue Shift. That took most of Sunday. On the plus side, the back-story I came up with for the doctor involved Corporate and government politics in Botswana to the point where I now have an idea for a short story that could function as a lead magnet!
  3. Conrad’s arc needed help. Conrad’s the character who’s most like me, so I was having a hell of a time with his arc. Which makes no sense — I should know more about him than anyone! But now, by weaving his plot more intimately with Liam Martin’s and with the lore of the Corporate Boards, I think I have a path forward.

It amazes me how Google Maps can spark my imagination. This is where my new character Dikeledi Mogapi was born. By researching this location, I came up with an idea for a short story lead magnet. Capture from Google Maps.

Perspective is Important!

So while I might beat myself up because my output dropped so much, I have to remember. One year ago, my daily average output was zero words. The peak was zero words, and you can probably guess the low number based on those two data points.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Thank God for Dan Wells’ YouTube videos about story structure.

The Developmental Edit Cometh

The Package

On Tuesday, I checked my Reedsy account. The developmental editor delivered three documents:

  1. A book report that gave a high-level plot summary, discussions of the main characters, and an analysis of the plot’s strengths and weaknesses.
  2. A diary of the editor’s reaction to each chapter.
  3. A line edit of the entire manuscript.

Keep in mind that the edit cost a little more than $2,100.00 US dollars. That’s a lot, especially for a first novel.

Was the Developmental Edit Worth It?

See, part of me wants to draw this out for dramatic purposes. But you know what? I’m just going to lay it out for you, then tell you why I answered the way I did.

The short version is yes. The longer answer is “Oh my God, yes!”

From a purely business perspective, it was absolutely worth it. I’ve written a hard science fiction political thriller. It has a large cast and multiple interlocking arcs. Everything has to work, or it falls in a heap. The developmental editor identified weaknesses in two arcs. Now that he pointed them out, I can see that they are fatal. If I had published this, the book would have fallen on its face. So, for $2,100, I avoided a complete catastrophe.

Well, I avoided it if I can translate his insights into better arcs.

Do you want to know something funny? I think I can do it. I can see the finished arcs in my mind. But I needed the edit to show me where the problems were.

The business aspect is the most important. I’m not planning to participate in a vanity publishing exercise. I want to delight readers, so the opportunity to fix major plot arcs prior to publication was absolutely worth it, full stop. But there was another aspect that I needed to see. I needed to know that I don’t completely suck. I needed a professional editor to point out where I didn’t fail.

That was in the package, too.

That’s My World in That Document

If you’re a seasoned writer, what I’m about to say will seem quaint, bordering on immature. It reeks of newbie-ness. But I’m going to be straight with you. I was ready for the edit to come back and absolutely rip my manuscript to shreds. I was ready for any level of criticism. Heck, I was even ready for attacks on the basic philosophical concepts or technology I presented.

I’m no better at accepting praise than Rudy is. No more experienced, either! Capture from the Funimation stream.

The one thing I was utterly unprepared to read was praise. I had to get up from my iMac and take a walk. Never before have I read someone discuss the characters I created. Or the institutions. Or the plot developments. Seeing someone discuss how I’d setup two characters as foils for each other is completely beyond my experience.

He even picked up on the themes.

I hope I someday get to the point where that’s routine. That’s especially true of reader feedback. But for the first time in my writing career, someone spoke of my fiction, of my characters, and of the world I created, in a positive way.

Because of that experience, I have never wanted to write more. So, yeah, I think the monetary investment was worth it. On both a business and a personal level.

Scorecard: Goals for Accountability Post 2021 Week 42

Previous Week’s Goals

  • Finish Ira Malhotra’s Plot Turn 2: Started!
  • Finish Liam Martin’s Plot Turn 2: D’oh!
  • Start Dek Conrad’s Plot Turn 2: D’oh!

To be honest, my brain was busily fixing the two broken arcs in Evolution’s Hand Book 1: 61 Cygni. That’s in addition to the three issues I discussed earlier! I take those obstacles as a good sign, though, because I’m trying to be as creative and interesting as I can. There’s a character in an anime called Re:CREATORS. That character, Shunma Suruga, is a writer. Her dedication to giving her readers something amazing inspires me. Heck, Re:CREATORS as a series inspires me! So, if it means I need to spend extra time to make something more cool, then that’s what I’ll do.

Next Week’s Goals

Here’s what I hope to accomplishing in the coming week:

  • Finish Ira Malhotra’s Plot Turn 2
  • Finish Liam Martin’s Plot Turn 2
  • Start Dek Conrad’s Plot Turn 2

Realistically, I won’t be upset if I can only finish Ira Malhotra’s plot turn 2 and start Liam Martin’s plot turn 2. Malhotra’s is hard because I have to portray realistic space-based combat. Martin’s is challenging because I have to research virology. Though if I do it right, it could have implications for a future book in this series, beyond the third book.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever worked with a professional editor? Any insights you’d like to share about the experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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