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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Destroyer of Worlds - 43% draft 3 - and choices to make

As of yesterday I'm 43% through the third draft. In the past I've gone over the manuscript one more time on-line after this before printing it out and paper-editing for a couple of drafts, but I'm going to move on to paper for the 4th draft because a) It's looking pretty good as I go through, though I'm still hacking and slashing at every sentence, and b) it's looking pretty good.

Aren't they the same? Yes. But here's the rub - what I call Word Blindness. It's looking pretty good because it is good, but also because I'm so used to seeing every page in the same format, I'm starting to skip over words, not seeing the story with an objective eye anymore. When this happens, our brain fills in the gaps, knowing what's coming, what's been written, and it looks better than it is. Time to print it off (or, if you always print and edit, time to change the font to Ugly Courier) and go at it with new eyes. Still, almost there....

Then? When my work is done and Janet/Fran/Mark have all inked their critiques of it? Time to market it. Because this book is so different from the type I've done recently - straight out horror, this time - I have to make a decision whether to give it to my US agent, who's currently marketing the first 2 (Solomon and Margaret's Ark, not Plague at the moment but to be honest still not sure if I'm not going to re-do the ending a little), or go at this on my own. I'm leaning towards marketing this on my own at first, considering my thought that I need some standard horror novels out there to build a name/rep, considering within the market I've got new stories coming out soon in some major outlets, best fire while the irons are hot (if that's the expression). Otherwise it'll simply line up behind the others and wait, and even then... not sure. A bit of a dilemma - am I being impatient, or realistic as far as how things are progressing (or not) here in the states and beyond?

The above, last question is, I think, critically important for my future, and one I need to decide on soon.

Anyway, the title the new book is going to be Destroyer of Worlds- it just works so well on so many levels. It'll change, probably, when an editor gets a hold of it. Who knows? If that happens, they can call it whatever they want. The question is finding a publisher, which is always hard.

Still, as always, while my beloved proofreaders hack and slash, I'll start outlining the next. Whether this is going to be the sequel to Solomon's Grave, or another rewrite of Solomon's Grave itself to work better in the US market (a distinct possibility), or an entirely new horror novel, we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Seeing My Words Through Others' Art

This weekend I received an email from Will Renfro (www.inkenstein.com), the extremely talented artist who has done the interior illustration for my upcoming Cemetery Dance story, "Living by the Highway." It's hard to explain the utter thrill of seeing something which has only existed, visually, in my own head suddenlybrought to life with pen and ink (or whatever media it might be). He captured all the elements of the story in a very detailed, stunning set of images. Not everything matches what I had in my head, nor will it what I imagined match the image that hopefully builds in the reader's mind when the story is finally, gently, placed in their minds. Never is. Everyone has their own references, experiences which are brought to the table. But the illustration is always the first thing the reader sees (usually), the draw as it were. This one will definitely do that (it creeped out my daughter as she looked over my shoulder - always a good sign).

Not always do you get to have this double whammy for a story - words and pictures. Still, though, in the few remaining print magazines out there, it's usually standard. The first time was way back in Fantastic Stories where my Great Flood story, "Lavish" was illustrated. Two images actually, and they were both fantastic (no pun intended). I was honored that my first story in CD, "Mermaids" written with L.L.Soares, was illustrated by a Necon friend of mine, Glenn Chadbourn (who has gone on to do some incredible work with Stephen King). More recently, Michael Apice's "Selection" illio was brilliant, especially when he emailed me the color version which still hangs on my wall today.

One thing I learned in this business is to appreciate these too-few moments of joy, when you see one more piece of a dream come true. As a writer, we want others to read and enjoy what we've done. And when it happens, when we have this brief moment in the sun, it makes all the crap that came before worth it. And don't get me wrong, even with the above-mentioned crap, it's worth it.

Dan

PS: 19% done with draft three..... If anyone's counting. :-)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

3rd Draft 1% done... Just a thought

Yea, I know, I just posted an update, but as I drove back from a late lunch where I finished up the second draft and began the third, something occurred to me and I wanted to get it down for posterity. I've been using the blog primarily these past 4 months to chronicle the genesis of a novel (not to mention keep myself moving forward on it), to see, for me at least, the various stages of writing, then editing. And, man, that was a long sentence....

Anyway, the first draft is basically a mad mind dump, where I never look back and allow myself to write anything, playing with words and leaving literary carnage in my wake. But the story gets written. The second draft was, as I expected, mostly following behind the first with a broom and cleaning up the aforementioned carnage. Also, this is where I have to clean up the plot points, especially in the first half, now that the story is completed. Pretty much every sentence had at least one fix needed, usually more, but to be honest this time through the mess wasn't too bad. I also tend to add more words, enhancing some scenes and coloring in the boxes as I go along.

Already, in the short bit I've done for the third draft, I can already see what comes next: cutting. Cut, cut, cut. One of the things I find often when critiquing others' stories is the problem of too many words. You need to allow yourself diarrhea of the keyboard when slapping the clay onto the - spinning clay thing - but now that the foundation's laid, the writing is too verbose. Time to tighten up, see where 10 words can work where I'd written 20. Etc, etc. I know in much later drafts, it'll come down to culling out the weak words like just and seemed (one of Fran's pet peeves). But this draft will be fun, I think. Cutting words out. I added 4,000 words to the manuscript in just the second draft. It won't surprise me to find when the third is done, I've cut at least that much. Different words, maybe. Still, when I'm done, the writing will be better.

Even better after the fourth draft, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. So, in summary so far: 2 months for the first draft, 2 months for the second. I'll shoot for one month for the third....

98.4%, almost there..

Just a quick update... didn't get any writing yesterday because things were a bit crazy at work and I couldn't get out at lunch... hate when that happens - though I like it when it's busy at work (I'm a software developer, to simplify my job title), so it's a bittersweet feeling.. Ah, bittersweet, what a girlie word.

Anyway, skipped workout this morning (again - bad habit, but been doing that a lot recently, I get obsessed in this stage of novel writing) and am almost 99% done with second draft, about to work on epilogue - which I WILL do at lunch. Then, I click CNTL-Home and start from the top, and do it all over again. Be interesting to see how quickly I can run through this. It usually goes faster after the second draft is done. I want to get it done, done! And I need a title!

OK, no time to wax poetic about anything right now. My compile should be finished. And I have to go to the bathroom. Busy, busy!

Dan