Finch from Inception to Interior Layout

You might remember a little novel I done finished called Finch, already available for pre-order.

It looked like this:

Then this (standing in for many, many drafts; click link to see more):

Ann read it in full regalia, with guardians:

Ann then created a spiral bound copy that was easier to work with, and I incorporated her edits and made my own further edits. The new format helped me to look at the text with fresh eyes.

After that stage, I sent it to my agent Howard Morhaim and my editor Victoria Blake at Underland, and she sent back her notes, which took the form of suggested edits and comments in the text, as well as general notes, excerpts from all of which I’m including here (there was more analysis, but I’d rather not make that public now). Howard gave more general comments over the phone. I also felt comfortable now shooting it off to a couple of other first readers.

My first step was to take the line-edits and easily-fixable things mentioned in the comments…and take on board the ones I agreed with, or find a third way; for example, with the note about Sintra above, it turned out a couple of half-scenes embedded in the right places in existing scenes worked better than a full-on new scene with that character.

Then I created a version for further editing that included more major fixes on scenes, as well as scenes lacking that needed to be included. I also created a version that seemed pretty watertight even without further changes and sent that to my agent for foreign sales.

As I began to revise further, I sent individual revised scenes to Ann, and to Tessa Kum, who had had some good insight into Sintra, a character who figured in several revised scenes. I also shot it off to Eddie Duff and Jonathan K. Stephens, Ambergris fans I knew I could trust to help me with chronology issues, and to Dave Larsen who always helps with gun issues. Reader comments came back via email, for example these two:

I then attacked the final changes, sent that version back to Victoria. She sent a few last edits, I made those changes, and then it was time for creating the interior layout, which right now looks like this (with a couple of detail examples; crap–Coulthart should be on there!).

In 2010, probably by around May-June, I will scan in and electronically archive all stages of the creation, development, and editing of Finch, and post the link on this blog. In case it’s of use to anyone in terms of process. I’m not going to be that transparent prior to publication and during the sales cycle because I think it distracts from where the emphasis should be: on the finished novel.

20 comments on “Finch from Inception to Interior Layout

  1. Jeff –

    This was great to see; I’m always curious about the writing processes of other writers. Beautiful cover, too.

  2. Matt says:

    This is a great post, Jeff– Thank you for being so open and sharing so much. This is the first time I’ve seen the FINCH cover as well– It’s fantastic.

  3. Vega says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this and all the other posts about the Finch process! I especially found the comments on the sentence structure very insightful… given that I had huge problems reading Sylvia Kelso’s Amberlight (which employs similar techniques), it gives an explanation on usage of such writing.

    Hopefully I wouldn’t have the same issues when I get to reading Finch!

  4. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    No first reader has had a problem with it.

  5. Natania says:

    Very cool. Great to have a view into your process! And I agree–the cover is really smashing, too.

  6. Larry says:

    That was a cool history behind the writing. Could your plans for showing the evolution of the text be seen as a coda to your upcoming Booklife book? It does seem like it’d fit in with that on a spiritual level, from what I recall of you talking about that upcoming book here.

  7. drax says:

    I love stuff like this. Thanks.

  8. josh says:

    I’ve been keeping a close eye on the assembly of Finch & I really appreciate your sharing. Not only is it interesting, it’s actually helped me straighten out, reorganize & technically jump-start my own work, so thank you.
    Impatiently drooling until the releases of both Finch & Booklife!

  9. It’s a fine piece of work. You should be proud of it.

  10. Glad it’s been of use. It’s not set in stone yet, but it appears I’ll be doing a country-wide 5-week book tour in Nov-Dec for Booklife and Finch.

    Larry–certainly Finch is mentioned in Booklife several times, and the PR plan for Finch is in the appendices.

  11. Larry says:

    Interesting, as this sort of thing fascinates me as much as the finished product. Remind me again, is it September or so for Booklife, or has the publication date changed in the past few months?

  12. This will undoubtedly be of great value to those of us laboring among the great unpublished. Thank you in advance for this.

    But, ya know, instead of just scanning it and sticking it up on the website… maybe you should see if anyone would BUY it. (Anyone meaning some breed of publisher, that is.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like that, and I’m sure it would find a good home in the Writing section of the bookstore.


  13. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    That’d just be the extremely annotated version of a novel, with drafts, etc. It’s much better suited for visual representation on the internet. But I will be doing a book on the craft of writing, as a follow up to Booklife.

  14. What a fascinating entry, Jeff. So nice to share in another writer’s inside experience. And man, that cover! *Damn*. Who’s the artist? Who’s the designer? I’m reminded of the Fury in *Mystery Man*: “My pants are getting tighter….”

  15. I cannot wait to read FINCH! It’s about time we all returned to the haunted streets of Ambergris….

    This glance behind the editorial/revision process is fascinating as well. Thanks for giving us a peek behind the curtain.

    John R. Fultz

  16. This submit is bang to the money, so much so I just tweeted it to my friends.

  17. Inception absolutely deserves five stars out of five in my viewpoint.

  18. I believe I am going to go and watch Inception once more. I really loved it!

Comments are closed.