Editing THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS: New “Seven Suns”

Late last fall I went through a writing marathon to finish the first draft of THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS—Book 1 in The Saga of Shadows, a new “next-generation” trilogy set in my Seven Suns universe.  After prepping for many months by rereading all seven novels in The Saga of Seven Suns, plotting the multiple storylines in great detail, I wrote the entire 836-page first draft in 47 days.  Then the editing started…

The third draft was in good enough shape that I handed it to my group of test readers and to my editor at Tor Books.  After I received all their comments, suggested changes, revisions, deletions, and rearrangements, I had my work cut out for me. Then I also received the detailed letter from the Tor Books editor. I dove in to do my manuscript surgery—just as I set off on my national HELLHOLE AWAKENING tour.

It took me weeks to address the various issues, rewrite scenes, change characters, build suspense, add descriptions.  By the time I was done with the Draft 4 overhaul, I had added another 10,000 words, bringing the manuscript up to 869 pages.  Now, it was time to go back to page one, sharpen my metaphorical red editing pencil, and then go back through again with a ruthless eye to cutting anything that didn’t need to be there.  A book this big cannot afford to have flabby prose or slow spots.  I trimmed out everything I possibly could, while also giving the whole story a big read to make sure all the story threads tangled and tied together properly.

On the way through, I found even more ways to speed up the pacing, rearrange a few chapters and scenes, tighten everything up.  I had previously added 10,000 words…and now I cut another 16,000 back out—one at a time, word by word, line by line.  Back down to 814 pages.  And, while I went through the manuscript, I compiled a 14-page glossary of all the terms and characters.  In a complex story (which will continue for two more novels), I think the readers deserve the glossary just in case they need the reminder.

So now, Rebecca will go over the manuscript for her final copy edit, checking it line-by-line…while I finish developing and fleshing out the blueprint and chapter-by-chapter outline of HELLHOLE INFERNO (which I brainstormed with Brian Herbert a couple of weeks ago), and Brian, meanwhile, is doing his final read and edit of MENTATS OF DUNE before delivering it to our Tor editor.  All the universes mesh together like the gears in a cosmic clock!