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The Endless Edit

In my last post, I listed some of the pros and cons of ruthless editing a novel.  Cutting and refining strengthens the structure and plot of the work, but the constant process of changing things sometimes affects the overall quality of the writing, resulting in a loss of immediacy. 

My latest novel contains two viewpoint and I have found the female viewpoint the most difficult to bring to life.  This problem didn’t occur in my debut novel, Secrets, when I narrated some of the story through the eyes of Kaz Bradshaw (third person).  In fact, I found her viewpoint easy to bring off.  However, I’m really struggling with the female viewpoint in my latest novel.  It seems lazy in place, neither here nor there and too reported at times.  I’ve typed copious notes on the chapters in question and expect I will need several more months of work before I feel ready to send out the novel.

I’ve reached that stage again, the stage of ready to polish my manuscript and send it out. My latest novel Silent, a psychological thriller, falls in the YA category of fiction, intended for teenagers and Young Adults, and I particularly enjoy writing for this audience.  As I ploughed through the various drafts, I became aware – as I had done with previous writing projects – that a major edit only goes part of the way to achieving a polished piece of work. Admittedly, much of the editing process strengthens the plot and structure of the novel. However, a noticeable downside appears to persist – namely, that in pruning or refining the writing, the author loses something of the spirit of the work.  I believe this inevitably happens.

So how does a writer fix the problem?  In my opinion, by viewing the ruthless edit as only part of the process and going through the revised manuscript after a period of several weeks to gain a fresh perspective. Often, the edit will have solved many of the problems, but not entirely. The danger, I think, lies in sending out the newly edited work without giving it a second glance.

Another possibility – my opinion, only – consists of keeping records of all previous manuscripts and occasionally reaching compromises.  For example: section A in draft One is full of potential but a bit overwritten, section A in the next draft brings out the tension and gets rid of the superfluous, but now some of the potential for immediacy has gone. In other words, flat writing. The answer, perhaps, could be using a fraction of the overwritten section to boost up the style of the more tightened revised section.

Meanwhile, I hope to finish the polish by next weekend, so I guess I will find out soon enough if I’m on the right tracks.

Polishing The Manuscript

After months of and several breaks from the manuscript of my third novel, I need to do a final short overall check before sending the manuscript on to an editor for advice.  It’s astonishing how simple, and sometimes more obvious, mistakes can linger, even after many drafts.

My novel falls into the genres of thriller, crime writing.  Plots in thrillers tend to be complicated, along with the structure of the novel.  Each time a draft changes, the complexity multiplies, leaving lots of places where minor mistakes, or sometimes major ones, can fester and combine.  Further, changing the position of chapters often strengthens a plot – for example, chapter eight before chapter five because chapter five introduces a new viewpoint.  However, the writer may overlook the simple errors that occur as a result of this change.

Hence, the need for time out and ruthless edits.

Snow, At Last

At last, the first sprinkling of snow has come to London and this morning I had to take special care as I walked down the driveway to the main road.  Meanwhile, the weather is generally bleak and cheerless.  Winter. I keep busy with my preparation for the third novel, piano practice and language studies, and brave the weather for exercise when I can.

Hurry up, Spring!

After several weeks of mild weather, a sharp winter has come, making the air truly chilly.  My hands are cold. Two and a half years have passed since I smoked a cigarette.  I’ve stuck to my more recent New Year resolutions as much as I can, continuing the piano practice and language studies and studying the market for my third novel, but the prospect of taking brisk power walks up the north London hills in this weather doesn’t appeal to me and I can’t wait for the weather to improve so that I can resume the walks.  Meanwhile, I hope to send the third novel narrative to an editor in the next couple of months to get a professional opinion.

Come back, Warm Weather!

  • Do a professional recording (or near enough) of my piano playing. Works under consideration include:  the 2 Brahms Rhapsodies op 79, Liszt’s 12th Hungarian Rhapsody, Chopin’s 4th Ballade, and any four of the Chopin Etudes, including the final arpeggio study in C minor. In the past, I’ve done several online recordings and released the tracks on last.fm, but I would like to try a recording studio this time.

  • Seek editorial advice regarding my third novel, YA/teen fiction.

  • Continue my three language studies: French, German, Russian.

  • Exercise daily by brisk walking and/or hill walking.  (North London is built on steep hills!)

Just a few of my thoughts.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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