I finished checking the page proofs for Blood and Iron today. I’ve posted an extract over on my website: follow the link http://www.tonyballantyne.com/?page_id=178
I’ve just got the copy edited manuscript for Blood and Iron from Macmillan and I’m busy working through it. It always amazes me the inconsistencies the copy editor picks up. The MS must have been read by at least six people by now, including me, and none of us noticed that I used the same word eight times on one page, or that one character knows another’s name even though they’ve never met before.
The copy editor also queried the fact that I said the Stone Age came after the Iron Age. In fact everyone so far has pointed out this is the wrong way round. They’re right of course, but I state here, for the record, before the reviews come in, that on Penrose the robots learned to handle iron long before they learned to handle stone. In fact, for robots, the Iron Age means the time of the birth of the robots.
Okay, I make it me 1, copy editor 552 and counting.
“No, father, you never did care about anything except your precious job.”
This is a line from Blood and Iron, spoken by a young woman to her father, and overheard by a nearby robot. Given the circumstances in which the words were spoken, I originally used an expletive in place of precious. But then I realised that as the words were being translated by computer as the young woman spoke them, and robots don’t use human expletives which tend be organically based, the sentence would probably read
“No, father, you never did care about anything except your rusting job.”
This is logical, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to the reader at first glance as it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing a young woman could say. I could have put in an explanation (a common writers’ mistake, in my opinion), but that would have slowed down the action, and worse, taken the reader away from the scene and reminded them they were reading a book.
I love a complicated plot, I love hard SF, but when it comes to the writing I always like to Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Anyway, Blood and Iron is finished and should be with Macmillan now.
Follow this link to my website to see Jon Sullivan’s amazing cover for Blood and Iron, published April 2010.
Julie, a friend of mine, came up with a perfect description of the process.
She said that when you first write a story it’s like a baby: perfect and precious in your eyes.
After a few redrafts it grows into a young child: you see that it has its faults, but you love it anyway.
But as you keep rereading and improving, a story becomes a teenager, lurking in its bedroom and complaining that you don’t understand it anymore. Catch it on a bad day and all you can see is its faults- everything about it irritates you. If you’re honest with yourself, you realise that you’ve both been in each others company too long: you’ve both changed.
By that time you’re looking forward to the day when your story can go out into the world and start earning a living. That’s when you can both see the best in one another again.