The Ultimate Rewrite

It is Thanksgiving in TrumpWorld, but since I don’t live there, I might as well compile an update on the latest projects. In the past weeks I have among other things been involved in rewriting my sci-fi fantasy novel manuscript Quantum Touch.

There is a specific connotation to the concept of rewrite, including the idea of refining the original text, but since there is no reason for me to sugarcoat anything here, I can tell exactly what I ended up doing.

In a sentence, I wrote a whole new 74000-word book, in A4 size with 1,5 line space that is about 315 pages.

There was really nothing wrong with the original version, but the characters were somewhat distant and unrelatable, so I decided to switch the point of view a bit. It is basically still the same story, only the way it is told has changed. To compare this to anything, Quentin Tarantino ended up making his allegedly best movie Jackie Brown by telling the same story from two different viewpoints. I ditched the first version because it was “hiding the ball” so to speak: it kept too many secrets and told the reader too little. It is not enough to hint that something’s about to go down in a story – things actually must go down.

As did the rewrite. First I only changed the beginning, but the new characters presented there took the whole story and made it theirs, and my role was limited to keep making notes of what was going on with them. I did have always notes on the next couple of chapters as I went on, but they were more like loose overall plot descriptions than strict guidelines.

Now I know what Tim Cook meant by saying a few years back that the only thing they changed in iPhone was everything. Apparently the same is possible with novels.

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Visitor’s Dilemma

As part of a process of preparing for rewrite of Quantum Touch, my scifi/fantasy novel manuscript, I was pondering a very specific and concrete problem the other day.

In stories where contact with another life form takes place, some sort of communication also takes place. I mean hell, even in Independence Day movie series (they are about to go franchise) the alien uses humans as a conduit for the monster speaking flawless English.

In novels the problem of common language can be dealt in many ways, but some sort of credible solution is required so that the ones entering a new world are at some point able to understand what the locals are about.

In our world it takes in some regions only fifty miles or so to switch from one spoken language to another, so creating a ready-to-use single common language between the two lifeforms as joining their respective universes would be quite silly.

From narrative viewpoint the issue is the following: how to justify the long learning process? How to make readers wait that those newcomers get the hang of a totally new way of communication, in addition to the obvious circumstantial and cultural shock?

My answer in this particular case is that I won’t. Instead I changed the story so that when the protagonist arrives, there already is another character who has done the dirty work of language learning for him. It was much easier to remodel the story than to try to force the existing story to these new demands.

The new demands by the way stem from the fact that I am going to start the to-be-rewritten story more or less from the point the current manuscript ends. But that is a story of its own, I will get back to it later.

Meanwhile use your language lavishly and stay classy,

Jari Peltola

@JariPeltola

contact

In Contact the alien life form looked like Ellie’s dad and spoke perfect English. Lucky for Ellie.

 

 

 

Undercover Boss

As I mentioned in the last post, Vigilante, my latest crime manuscript is now posted to my publisher, and hopefully it will come out some time in 2017. Also Quantum Touch, my scifi/fantasy manuscript, is currently being evaluated by another publisher. I finished the Vigilante rewrite well in time for the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which I had planned to follow diligently.

I did not plan however a phone call from a tv producer I know from previous projects. In short, I am now to make ten manuscripts for a tv show based on raw material already shot. The first cuts have about two hours of footage per episode, and I am to edit these to the 43-minute format, which is the industry standard for a one-hour slot.

Because of confidentiality agreement, I cannot reveal any more details, but the show is a localized version of an international franchise. If you take a closer look at the headline of this post or the attached image below, it may possibly give you a hint of what I am to do in the coming weeks in addition to watching sports.

More later when soccer and confidentiality allows, until then stay classy.

Jari Peltola

@JariPeltola

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Past the first step

The rewrite for Vigilante, my fourth crime story, is now done, and I am pretty happy about how it turned out. I removed some 15 pages of mainly backstory and odd plotlines and added about ten pages of new material, consisting of three new chapters and overall tweaking. The result is 232 A4 pages of material, which should meet the suggestions given by the publisher after the first version.

I also filed in the first version of Time Kids, the manuscript for children’s novel, but since this is the first time my publisher hears about the whole thing, I won’t dig any deeper into the project at this point.

Speaking of jinx, I almost feel I should not write this but what the heck, I’m done with superstition. Quantum Touch, the sci-fi fantasy manuscript I sent earlier in the spring to a couple of other publishers after my current one decided not to go into sci-fi publishing, was really not a project I’ve been thinking about recently.

However I did receive an email earlier this week about Quantum Touch from another publisher. In the email they said that the manuscript was very promising and that they will pass it further for more detailed evaluation.

I know this does not mean that it will make it all the way to the publishing stage, but at least Quantum Touch did make it past the first step. I will deal with the next steps when they are due. The world of publishing is not about one person liking a particular manuscript. The market situation, other manuscripts offered, possible similarities in planned release lineup – all this and much more is involved.

So, will there be other projects published in the near future in addition to Vigilante, which now seems likely? Stay tuned, and of course classy.

Jari Peltola

@JariPeltola

(the image below is the dummy cover I made for Quantum Touch)

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The showrunner author

Since the last post, I have been working on further rewrite of Vigilante, my latest crime novel manuscript, which has a preliminary release date in spring 2017. This of course depends on many other things than just the manuscript, but anyway I am due to file in the rewrite next month.

Earlier I discussed the changes with my publisher, and from experience of having put three novels out previously I know that the rewrite won’t be that extensive. All the centerpieces are in place, right now it is all about the details, credibility in plot twists and such.

At this point, were I the late great Steve Jobs, I would grab something out of my back pocket.

In my case there is the first version for a children’s novel manuscript under the working title The Time Kids. I finished the manuscript yesterday, and I am to file that along with the Vigilante rewrite.

The Time Kids is a story about a time travel agency and many more things. It is just about half the length of Vigilante, meaning in practice some 110 A4 pages (the word count says a bit over 20000 words). In length that is comparable to for example David Baddiel’s excellent novel The Parent Agency. I also kept in mind the balance between humor and emotional bits Baddiel weaves in his book whilst writing The Time Kids. In crime stories humor cannot be in the forefront, but with The Time Kids I really threw in the most anarchistic gear I have in my box when writing is concerned.

So what about the blog post title about the showrunner author?

I recently watched the documentary movie Showrunners by Tara Bennett, in which people such J.J. Abrams, Terence Winter and Joss Whedon are interviewed about the pros and cons of actually running a whole tv show production.

Since I have been a writer for several tv shows, I know that on micro-level being an author of novels is not that different from being a showrunner. It is just that instead of putting others to work for you, you must put yourself to work, however with the same exact tools. The planning of several projects simulatenously, the preparation, plot structure and character details, the storyboards, post-editing: they are all there for exactly one person to do.

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The show title is then replaced by the author’s name or, more accurately, his or her work. For example right now a very expensive show called Game of Thrones based on George R.R. Martin’s book faces a major crisis, because the showrunner of novels cannot provide the scripts for the showrunner of tv series. I would not hold it impossible if the tv guy actually lent at some point some of his workforce to Martin, so that the latest novel would be finished as soon as possible. Sure, it will say George R.R. Martin on the cover, but no one cares a flying dragon who has actually written it. Rather, fans want to know what happens to Khaleesi, and a.s.a.p. please, they demand in several languages.

But usually it is just one guy writing his own books, running the show of being an author. My next deadline is called Euro 2016, since I want to finish the Vigilante rewrite as well as The Time Kids’s first version before the European championship soccer tournament begins mid-next month.

More about how things progress later, until then keep running your own shows and stay classy.

Jari Peltola

@JariPeltola

 

 

 

 

Snow in April

The title is not only an obvious Prince reference, it actually has snowed here several times today. Today I also got a phone call from my publisher, and as it stands now, Vigilante, my most recent crime novel, is now considered for a release some time next April.

Of course there are still conditions concerning the final edit and such, but right now it seems pretty promising that at least in some point in year 2017 Vigilante will actually be published, making it my fourth book that has come out.

Vigilante is a story including elements from undercover police operations as well as vigilante justice, as the working title suggests. As we discussed it with my publisher, there were also things in the manuscript that were not that important considering the main story (a touch of supernatural etc.).

Since none of these subplots were tightly linked to the a-story however, they are basically an issue of further editing (i.e. getting rid of them). This is why nothing major is about to happen in the editing process, perhaps I will also add a couple of more clarifying entries and a bit more detective work instead of merely telling what is going on. It is in general better to reveal things by drip-feeding them through action and also in dialogue rather than to just bluntly list things and serve them to the reader in one portion.

We did also agree on a timetable that enables me to file the edited version some time in June so there is plenty of time to concentrate on getting things right. What I did not mention was that I am also still planning on creating the Time Kids, a children’s book manuscript, so that it could be sent in just about the same time. I did not want to divert the situation today, it is better to cross one bridge at a time. Right now it is my primary goal to have that edited version of Vigilante ready, and should there be any bonus manuscripts to be attached with it, that’s great but by no means necessary.

I will continue my Prince marathon right now, do the same if you’re up to it.

More soon, stay classy,

Jari Peltola

@JariPeltola

Working the lineup

First of all, I just found out that at least on this desktop edition of WordPress (which I don’t usually use) there is the option for timing the publishing of a post. Hence this post seemingly appearing in the middle of the night on my time zone, actually this was written earlier on Monday.

Since the last post I edited Quantum Touch, the scifi/fantasy manuscript further a bit and sent it to four different publishers a week ago. Also, the publisher I have so far been working with now has the copy of my new crime manuscript Vigilante, which I sent in a fortnight ago.

I also started publishing a previous unpublished crime novel manuscript – written under the working title Cicerone –  chapter by chapter online. This was very much an ex tempore decision, but since I felt the manuscript was not maybe as strong as I would have wanted to but definitely finished and in general good enough for other people to read, I decided to put on a new blog, which now publishes (in Finnish only) a new Cicerone chapter every day from Monday to Friday.

There are 78 or so chapters in the manuscript so this will go on for a while. This is also the reason why I actually found out about using the new-to-me posting option in WordPress, the chapters come out at the same time every day, and timing the for me was a gift from WordPress coding gods.

As if all this somehow was not enough, I decided to do something about this idea of mine of a children’s book I have had for some time now. I will get back on this issue on a new post in the near future, but for clarity’s sake let’s put the project, about 60 pages or so,  under the working title Time Kids.

More soon, stay classy

Jari Peltola

@JariPeltola