Thursday, March 5, 2009


Winds of Dune--Finishing Touches

Over the past week I completed my final read-through and edit of WINDS OF DUNE, while Rebecca has taken each section of the manuscript with her sharp red pencil (purple pen, actually) to do her line-by-line copy-edit. Right now I'm going over her marked-up manuscript, keying in all of the fine-tune polishes she suggested, so I can deliver a clean manuscript to Tor Books and Simon & Schuster UK on Monday, where it will go into production. This is the tenth draft of the novel.

So, how does a book go through all these steps? Brian and I brainstorm the novel together over the course of several days, mapping out the storylines, breaking down the chapters, and then we write a very detailed outline (often 50 pages or so) and divide up the chapters according to which parts interest us the most, which scenes play best to our individual strengths.

We write our chapters, edit them, and make notes, after which we combine the chapters into the whole manuscript. One of us (Brian, in the case of WINDS) goes through the integrated book for the first time, doing the major work of getting the pieces to fit together, and then the other author (me, in this case) takes the second crack at it, polishing more, fixing inconsistencies, adding scenes, deleting scenes. Then it goes back to Brian, then back to me, back and forth until we're reasonably satisfied with it.

When we had finished five drafts of WINDS, I delivered it to my group of test readers, who were the first objective outsiders to read the novel; we sat down together for most of a day discussing what didn't work, what still needed to be fixed, and how best to do it. I then did another major rewrite, sent it off to Brian for him to go over one more time. Tthe seventh draft of the book went to our editor Pat LoBrutto and publisher Tom Doherty. After they gave us their comments, Brian did another revision, then I did a final read-through and edit (the one I just finished last week). Rebecca completed the process with her very detailed copy edit, after which the book is finally ready to go to the publisher for production.

And that's where we are now.

Next, Tor has their copy-editor go over the manuscript to mark any typos or punctuation errors, note any further inconsistencies, etc. Brian and I each see it one more time after this, and then the book is typeset. We both proofread the typeset galleys, as well as two professional proofers. THEN the book is printed and shipped off to your bookstores. So, when you see the novel on the stands this August, think about all the stages it's been through.

-- KJA


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