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Robert Batten

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Author

Tag: Blood Capital

April backer update

April has come to a close and I've sent out my monthly update for backers of Human Resources. You can read the update on the Inkshares site here.

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Blood Capital Developmental Edit Milestone

Updated 02/11/2017 to reflect the now announced final title. The previous version of this post named the book by its working title, Human Resources.
Over the past month I've been working through the developmental editing process for my sci-fi novel Blood Capital. This week I reached a milestone with my editor; he gave our updated outline the green light, freeing me to start work on rewriting pages!

What is a developmental edit?

Let me include a description of the process from the Inkshares blog:

The first round of notes is what we call “story architecture” and it’s the first part of the developmental process. It focuses on a series of high-level structural notes that discuss the: 1) the core of the story, 2) main arcs and characters, and 3) the unexplored, negative space of the story. Classical developmental editorial tends to focus on honing the present version of the story. By contrast, this architectural round asks not what the story is, but what it could be. It throws wrenches, offers zigs rather than zags, and explores the unwritten negative space to mine potential. Not every story goes through this process, but many do, and some of our most successful stories have changed significantly during this process. Depending on how extensive the notes are on this process, it can take three months or longer.

During this process, the developmental editor worked with me on testing the architecture of the draft novel. He challenged many aspects of the story, working collaboratively with me to address any issues identified.
To kick off the process, my editor read the draft manuscript in its entirety. They then put together a series of notes (thirteen pages of them) and line comments on the manuscript itself. This represented our starting point, and once I'd read through the feedback, we had a direct chat to discuss and make sure we were on the same page.
After the initial notes, the process shifted gears to an iterative cycle. I wrote a detailed outline for the novel — acts, chapters, scenes (with detailed scene notes). We then collaborated on this document — outline, feedback, discussion, new outline, feedback.... and so on.
The process was difficult at times, as it required me to challenge, and in some cases change, key aspects of the novel. My editor didn't let me off the hook with weak justifications, but neither did I feel like I lost control of the work. The process was collaborative, and the changes my own creation. In the end the book will be stronger than ever, and I'm thrilled.

What's changed?

Everything, and nothing. The changes we have agreed include a substantial restructure of events, primarily in the first and second acts. We've dropped several characters who weren't contributing to the story and removed plot points which were becoming a distraction. We've made sure as events culminate in the third act both the objectives and stakes are clearer, and that events converge on a more climactic point. The themes of the book have been tightened, and events more closely aligned to the core story. What hasn't changed, is the core premise and scenario. For those who have read my excerpts online and pre-ordered the novel, I'm confident you'll get the story you are expecting.

Next steps?

I've jumped into the rewrite process, starting with a revamped prologue. Once the updated draft is complete, it will get dissected by an editor again, but this time looking at a different layer of detail. The amount of work ahead is a little intimidating, but I'm excited to get started and looking forward to getting the finished product to you.

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HR February Reader Update

Today I sent out the February reader update for Human Resources. These updates are sent using the Inkshares platform, so you will find the update over here. This update includes:

  • Latest information on publication.
  • ISBNs, Goodreads, and book store listings.
  • The Chinese Jian (Ling's sword).
  • The AICon event I'll be attending.
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Ling's sword; the Chinese Jian

I've added a new bonus feature for Human Resources; a page on her sword, the Chinese Jian. Go take a look.

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Human Resources Submitted to Editors

As of a few minutes ago, I submitted the completed (draft) manuscript for Human Resources to Inkshares. I've been working on this full-time throughout January and it is a huge relief to have made this milestone.
From here, the formal editing process begins. There are three stages of editing with Inkshares; developmental, copy, and then proof-reading.
The developmental edit is structural:

  • Is the pacing right?
  • Are there any plot holes?
  • Does this character make sense?
  • Does this sub-plot go anywhere interesting?

The developmental edit should take about three months.
The copy edit is technical. It focuses primarily on grammar and spelling, helping make the writing as clean as possible. This edit takes about one month.
Proof reading is the final step, fresh eyes are given the completed manuscript to read cover to cover and provide feedback. When working on the previous two editing stages, you can lose perspective by spending so much time working on specific details. This stage helps make sure the novel "works." This stage takes about one month.
In parallel to the editing, the publisher will have designers working on cover designs etc. I've been told who will be working on Human Resources and I'm excited about it. I'm waiting for confirmation as to whether it is something I can announce — stay tuned...
If you would like more details about the publishing process with Inkshares, and what will happen at each stage, the company recently released a post about it here.

New Excerpts

The novel page on Inkshares has several excerpts available to read from the first part of the book. Their platform enables readers to highlight sections they like, and add comments to discuss with other readers and the author. Up until now, I've left these excerpts alone as much as possible. I've received some great engagement from the community, with a lot of comments and interactions on the excerpts. However, with the second draft finished, I needed to update these excerpts with newer versions. This is now done, so don't be thrown if all the comments have disappeared. Hopefully, you'll all agree the new versions are an improvement.

Mailing List

I've started an author mailing list and will be sending out a monthly newsletter to people who subscribe. The newsletter will include some of my short stories, blog articles on writing, and information on other projects I become involved in. You can sign up here (and obviously unsubscribe any time if you find it isn't for you).

Other Projects

I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some other interesting projects currently funding on Inkshares:

  • Arcadia, Andre Brun: Peter Pan meets The King in Yellow. Ten strangers must band together and find a way to defeat Suelitta before they lose what is left of their sanity (Horror).
  • The Walls are Closing In, Jacqui Castle: Decades after The Seclusion, during which America constructed massive border walls and sealed itself off from the outside world, thirty-one year old Patricia Evans lives within the panoptic nightmare of a total surveillance state (Dystopian).
  • How to Kiss Like a Movie Star, Leslie Nipkow: What happens when a real-size girl decides to become a movie star? How to Kiss Like a Movie Star is a love story: tragic, funny, unrequited, and occasionally illegal, about death, acting, boxing, breast cancer, secrets, and soap opera (Memoire).
  • King's Daughter, Julia Bobkoff: King’s Daughter brings to life the 10th century saga of the spirited Danish warrior princess Thyra Haraldsdatter and the man she loved and lost, Norway’s legendary maverick King Olaf Tryggvason—a tale of love, war, betrayal, and redemption (Historical Fiction).
  • The Phantom Forest, Liz Kerin: In a war-torn tribal city inhabited by mystical spirits, a young woman named Seicha is ritually sacrificed to a demon and must navigate the dangers of the Underworld to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave (Fantasy).
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2016 Launch Pad Manuscript Competition

The 2016 Launch Pad Manuscript Competition has finally drawn to a close, and Human Resources has walked away with an amazing outcome; not one, but two major prizes:

  • The Ridley Scott / Scott Free Prize
  • The Inkshares Publishing Prize

Ridley Scott / Scott Free Prize

Scott Free, the production company of Ridley and Tony Scott, are one of the three major partners in the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition. As part of the competition, they guaranteed to option at least one script as their major prize. They ended up selecting two, Human Anew by Irina Ivanova, and my novel Human Resources. Sir Ridley Scott has made some of my favourite movies of all time - to have a shot at them developing my novel is a dream come true. The announcement of this prize can be found here.

Inkshares Publishing Prize

Inkshares are a book publisher that uses a crowdfunding business model to select the majority of books they publish. In keeping with that model, they applied it to the Launch Pad competition when determining the winners of their major prize (Inkshares are a partner in the competition). The model was simple; all 75 first-round finalists (as selected by the judges in the main competition) could compete. Their books would be available for pre-order on the Inkshares website. At the end of the competition, the three books with the most unique pre-orders (individuals ordering, not number of copies) would win.
The crowdfunding competition finished today at 12 noon PST. After an eight-week campaign, it was a nail-biting finish, with two other competitors neck-and-neck with me up to the final seconds. In the end, only one pre-order separated myself from second place. One, single, pre-order. I still can't believe it. It was such a close competition, Inkshares have since announced they are going to publish six of the books! You can read their official announcement here, and a similar announcement by The Tracking board here.

What's next?

I'll be working hard over the Summer to finish off the manuscript and get it through the editing process with the publisher. My focus will be on producing the best book possible. I'll be posting periodic updates on my progress as well as planned timeframes as I know them.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in getting this far. It has been an exhilarating ride, and we're only just getting started!

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