Beautiful Books Link-up: Editing

SURPRISE CHRISTMAS POST, GUYS! (Okay, eve of eve of Christmas Eve. Whatever.) I'm jumping in very very late on the Beautiful Books link-up by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In. Beautiful Books is a blog event linkup focused on three different stages of writing: plotting, writing, and editing. I'm crashing in late for the last round: editing!

(You should join in too. Just click the button at the top of the post.)

Perfect timing, since my novel Winner Takes All is now on Figment! Here are the Beautiful Books questions:

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best) how well do you think this book turned out?

Hmm ... maybe 7? It didn't come out a mess, but on the flip side it doesn't have the "reach" feeling -- which is why I'm now fleshing out everything, while fixing up the pacing. (Oh goodness me, the pacing. I have no idea how to deal with it.)

2. Have you ever rewritten or editing one of your books before? If so, what do you do to prepare yourself? If not, what’s your plan?

Yes, yes I have! I've completely revised Shadowplay (and am not too sure with the result, but it's time to cross my fingers and let it go.) My plan for Winner Takes All is slightly different: basically flesh out, pace, pare, characterisation, pare some more, then go down to the line edits.

3. What’s your final wordcount? Do you plan to lengthen or trim your book?

75K! I plan to lengthen it first, and then trim. I'm thinking that at the end, it'll end up with the same wordcount, but I really don't know -- this one feels like it's the right length, just not the right stuff.

4. What’s are you most proud of? Plot, characters, or pacing?

Oh, that's a difficult question. Uhhh ... Winner Takes All has two intertwining storylines, and I'd choose plot for the one tracking a peasant's rise to queen regnant, but character for the other one where we meet loads of characters with amazing backstories, hopefully giving off a World War Z vibe.

5. What’s your favourite bit of prose or line from this novel?

Let's show you!

I feel it really encompasses Talisa's character very well -- she's insecure but determined -- and it also shows the kind of writing style I'm going for: lyrical, especially in describing thoughts.

6. What aspect of your book needs the most work?

I think pacing? Because I tried writing a query-style blurb last week and I realised the important stuff in Ylen's plotline happens way too late.

7. What aspect of your book is your favourite?

Style! I decided, from the beginning, that this was going to be in a lyrical, poetic-prose style, and I'm reasonably happy with the results: not too much imagery, more on the thoughts side. I'm trying to go for evocative here, but I'm still working on that.

8. How are your characters? Well-rounded, or do they still need to be fleshed-out?

I'd say that my secondary characters are fairly satisfactory for first-draft secondary characters. My main characters -- well, they developed a lot in the drafting process, but I feel like they can still go the extra mile. We'll see.

9. If you had to do it over again, what would you change about the whole process?

I'd give myself a longer buffer period. I went to Argentina in the first two weeks of December and thought that would be enough, but even though I've seen lots of new things that I need to work on, I feel like I'm still missing parts of the picture.

10. Did anything happen in your book that completely surprised you? Have any scenes or characters turned out differently to what you planned? Good or bad?

I was going to write this in a format we had Ylen's chapters and Talisa's documents, diary entries, etc., but it turned out into a very Nineteen Minutes-esque intersecting timelines thing. And I did reveal more than I'd originally planned for the backstory. But I think these were for the better, since it helps heighten tension and connect with the reader.

11. What was the theme and message? Do you think it came across? If not, is there anything you could do to bring it out more?

Oomph. I'm still figuring this out. First theme is sort-of-racial bias. Basically, Hong Kong and China aren't on the best of terms, and China and Taiwan aren't on the best of terms, but aren't we nominally the same nationality? It makes me really sad there's so much bias and misinformation. (It's not really racial bias, but the closest thing I could name.) Another theme is how unreliable history is, and here's my logline: History is written by the winners, but it utterly demolishes the winners who lose.

I think the first one came across pretty well, because it's central to the core conflict, and in fact I'm worried about beating the reader around the head with it. The second theme is more subtle, but I'm okay with that, because it was always meant to be secondary.

12. Do you like writing with a deadline (like NaNoWriMo) or do you prefer to write-as-it-comes?

I wrote my last novel as-it-comes, but I wrote this one with a deadline, and I think it worked much better. But experience and such factored in too, so. I'm on a site called myWriteClub which tracks my writing progress, though!

13. Comparative title time! What published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men, etc.)

Oomph again. Okay, I mentioned Nineteen Minutes, for its dual timeline structure, and World War Z, for its huge scale and documentary/interview style, but I was also inspired by Gone Girl's unreliable narrators and wife vs. husband conflict. Talisa's storyline is also a subversion of the rags to riches trope, as well as a sort-of-adaptation of Mulan.

14. How do you celebrate a finished novel?!

Tweeting! I also post on the blog, although my celebration post was for uploading the revised first chapter on Figment ;)

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?

THE FEELS, of course. But to be more serious, I want them to come away doubting the world they know. Doubting their own motivations. But also screaming and sobbing at the twist (I hope!) ending.

That's about it; thanks so much to Cait and Sky for hosting this awesome link-up and giving me another excuse to ramble about Winner Takes All! Merry Christmas, all!



  1. It sounds like your novel-crafting is going splendidly, with better work to be done soon! :D I also like the theme/message you took on; it's not one I run into a lot in the American world where I have been planted and I wouldn't be brave enough to tackle something like that. *nods* Good luck editing! :D

    1. Yeah, it's very much influenced by my Chinese background. For many of my future ideas, I'm wholeheartedly embracing my own culture, and I think that's a great thing because I'm familiar with it! Thank you so much for the positivity!

    2. I think that's awesome, and I'm sure your familiarity is going to make the story shine. :D Looking forward to more updates.

    3. Thank you! I'll be sure to keep the blog updated with my latest writing exploits ;)

  2. I'm so with you for #15!! Screaming + sobbing = happy author. Omg, how wacko do we sound?! But still. FEEEEELS. XD
    I hope you have a good time when you go to revise this!! It sounds incredible. Pacing is usually my struggle too. *headdesk* I never know if I'm going to fast or too slow until I finish draft 1.
    Thanks for linking up with us!!

    1. We aren't writers if we aren't wacko. See, alliteration! XD Yeah, the pacing seems fine when I plot, but then when it comes out ... whoops. But no first draft is perfect, I suppose :) Merry Christmas!!

  3. If the excerpt + first chapter are any indication, you are doing splendidly in the poetic language department. I'm so in awe of authors who manage to achieve that feel - I've sprinkled it a little bit throughout Frozen Hearts, but I've never managed to write a whole book with that kind of voice! (I stick with regular poetry, haha ;))

    Also! My friend sent me this great article the other day that I thought you might want to see - it's pretty old, but maybe it'll help with your pacing issues?

    1. Let me tell you, your poetry is killer. I wish it was Friday every day so we could get more Friday Poetry, ahaha ;P It's a new thing for me too, hopefully it'll work out fine with content and stuff. The article on pacing is super useful, thanks so much for suggesting it!

      Merry Christmas!

  4. Woohoo, fabulous post!! Your book sounds marvelous, and I love that you're making an effort to write lyrically; that's something I wanted to do with TON, too, because I absolutely love books that are able to make prose sound like poetry without losing sight of characters or plot. Just from your snippet I'd say you did a fabulous job--I love the imagery!

    It sounds like you've got good plans for revisions, and I wish you all the best as you go forth into edits. Good luck! And Merry Christmas, too! :)

    1. Thank you! You're doing a great job with TON too, as far as I can tell from the Beautiful Books Link-ups! And good luck to you too -- we who are about to revise salute you, or something. Have a great holiday!

  5. Comgrats on finishing your new novel! I personally think it sounds great, and I love the excerpt.

    1. Thank you very much, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Have a great New Year :D


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