In a bit of crazy convergence, it looks like I’m going to finish the final draft of Certainty at pretty much the same time as this blog reaches the end of its first year. This round of editing is hardcore stuff, with the little changes and the big changes and the more judicious use of the word ‘fuck’, all adding up to something that is shaping up to be pretty bloody great. I’m now only one chapter from the end, and may well get there before I go to work tomorrow (all part of my new “wake up stupidly early” regime). I have to go back and think about a couple of things before it’s totally ready, but it feels great to be very nearly there.
Work on my new novel has had to take a bit of a back seat while I’ve been hammering out the new draft of this one, but it’s been great to get back into the world again and make it leaner, meaner, and as tight as a badger’s arse. I’m learning much more about what I do well (action stuff, most of the dialogue), what I do badly (transitions, clunky explanations for things that could easily be written in one sentence), that I’m not as terrible at description as I thought I was, and that I have an unfortunate penchant for overwritten Bond-villain-style speeches.
Best bits of the edit so far:
– Discovering hitherto unknown homo-erotic undertones between my main character and the billionaire who takes him under his wing (sample comment from Sarah: “Gaaaaaaaaay”). This has all been ripped out, and one of the recurring themes of the book (my main character seeing the group of people he joins as a potential new surrogate family) has been completely excised as it didn’t quite work. Close, but no cigar.
– Kelly for Annie. One of my characters was a bit of a wet lettuce, and was only really there because I thought that the ensemble my main character finds himself in could do with another member. As it happened, though, I already had a character earlier in the book who was good but was then kind of abandoned for plot purposes. It was surprisingly easy to replace the weak character with her, and it solved a whole bunch of issues.
– Finding that I can argue my corner pretty well in the face of pressure when I dig my heels in. A back and forth with a published author is always pretty awesome, and I was surprised to win some of the arguments about structure, plot and character.
– Finding easy solutions for long-standing problems. Sometimes a writer is so close to their own material that they can’t see the wood for the trees, and some of the clunky sentences that had driven me insane for ages were instantly put right by Sarah. Very gratifying.
– Seeing vast swathes of text with no comments in them whatsoever. Also known as: you did this bit right, son. Interestingly, the chapters that I thought about most and put the most work into – the big set piece chapters – tended to be the ones with the least to change, despite being the most difficult bits to write. Note to self: don’t be so fucking lazy in future.
Only a massively cool car chase to go now, plus the short epilogue. Win. Then I can think about selling the bastard thing.