If you’re just tuning in, go back and read my first entry, since this is a continuation. Go ahead, I’ll wait. (Did you read it? C’mon, scroll down.)
Okay…last time I gave you a little background on the beginnings of the new Karen Vail novel. (What’s it called? Not so fast. Tell you later.) So writing a 400 page novel requires a lot of discipline, and it means you have to keep a lot of facts, thoughts, and ideas straight. Problem is, I was due to begin the book tour for The 7th Victim.
While on tour, although there was very little down time, I tried to touch the manuscript daily, if only to look at the outline to keep my mind on the story and characters. In airports, on airplanes…I wrote. While in Seattle, during the long drive to a military base for a book signing, I flipped open my laptop and wrote. In November, en route from Tucson to Phoenix, I had a two-hour phone conference with Mark Safarik (FBI profiler, Mary Ellen’s former partner), who’d by now had read the first half of the book. I took notes and made changes directly into the manuscript as we spoke.
A few weeks later, around December 20, I typed the final period. I handed the rough draft to my wife, my first-line editor, who had read the manuscript in large pieces and was now going to read it for the first time as one unit. I sent the full manuscript off to Mark and followed up on some research points (I can’t tell you what because I don’t want to give anything away). My wife finished her read and gave me a set of edit notes. I addressed her major points, and then, on December 31, I sent the manuscript to my editor, Kevin Smith, who I’d worked with on The 7th Victim. Kevin and I work very well together…our sense of suspense and characterization often run parallel, and he’s good at pointing out spots where I’ve missed an opportunity. In short, he loved the new novel and said it’s “a fantastic, rousing follow-up to 7th Victim,” and that I “have established a great franchise character in Karen Vail.”
Kevin sent me his editorial narrative, which included his overall impression of the book as well as specific comments on anything that occurred to him during his multiple reads of the manuscript: characterization, story/plot, action, continuity, pacing, suspense, and so on.
Kevin essentially received a first draft—at this point, as hard as it is to believe, I had not even read the manuscript myself. While Kevin was reading it, I spoke again with Mark, who had, by now, finished reading the manuscript. Fortunately, Mark felt I’d gotten just about everything right—a tremendous relief. I made the few corrections Mark suggested, then addressed Kevin’s notes and looked at those places in the manuscript where he had specific comments. Equally as fortunate, Kevin felt it was pretty clean and didn’t need any major editing. In some cases I made changes based on his observations. In other cases, he and I discussed the issues, and the final “solution” emerged from ideas that arose while we were brainstorming.
I then read the novel myself and line-edited (reading it sentence by sentence and making changes that included changing words, adding or deleting sentences and paragraphs, clarifying plot points, correcting grammar, etc.). I addressed various questions/notes I’d made along the way, and completed research that still needed follow-up. I sent it back to Kevin for his final read-through while I completed my line-editing. Any polish was then applied. The amazing thing is that when dealing with 120,000 words over 400 pages, no matter how many times you read it, you still find things you didn’t see before. I’m a detail person, and it still happens. It’s maddening. But it’s a fact of this novelist’s life.
That’s it for now. Next posting: check back on Tuesday. I’ll take you through what happened when I submitted the final manuscript…