Friday, 17 February 2012
Getting from notebook to novel - #6
So you've finished the book! The hours and hours hunched over the computer have finally paid off. Your story rocks, especially that neat little twist / devilish villain / saucy lurve scene (delete as appropriate). All you have to do now is have a quick read through, check for any outageous spolling mistaks (heh heh) and start sending it off to agents / editors / publishers.
Except you don't. This is the point where you will simultaneously become your own best friend and your own worst enemy. This is the point where you get out your manuscript, red pen and a notebook and begin the editing process.
As ever I learned a lot from my writing Bible, Stephen King's On Writing. He suggests printing out the complete manuscript double-spaced and doing a read through with a notebook by your side. Changing words or phrases is easy - just write them straight in, making the most of your double spacing. When you notice something which needs more thought or which is causing conflict, King suggests making a squiggle in the margin and then writing a corresponding page-referenced memo into your notebook. For example, some of my notes for the new book included "p216 Check paddock location" and "p89 Check Chloe's age." They're not always deal breakers but the fine details which make your world believable and consistent - especially important in fantasy.
It would be possible to write an entire book on editing, never mind a blog post - but one of the best pieces of advice I came across was to read your book as if it's your worst enemy reading it. Trust me, you'll soon spot the overuse of certain words (with Watchers it was a love affair with the word grimace, with the new book... I'm not sure yet...). On the other hand try not to lose the faith. Every writer has that experience of loving page 52, then reading it the next day with hatred in their heart. That's part of the process. The love will return - unless it genuinely does suck.
Anyway, I'm off to practise what I preach - wish me luck!