At some point during the month, I hope to get my first novel back to the editor. This means I’ve had to put the second novel on hold and take a final look at the first book, a psychological thriller.
I feel the overall quality of the work has improved, in particular the plot and the structure, but at times I get so frustrated by traces of previous drafts still present in the work, especially old clichés like, “She went in, her unease mounting.”
For instance, what does “unease” really mean? Different things to different people. And would most people use verbs like “mounting” in their everyday vocabulary. I don’t think so. I’m having to find new ways of bringing to life the various emotional responses.
So what are the things to look out for in a (hopefully) final polish? If the story works – and I suspect mine is beginning to – I would say:
- Dialogue. Try to keep it relaxed with each speaker’s voice as distinct as possible
- Redundant sections. Cut these
- Does the unfolding of plot always make sense? I’ve included a new paragraph about an eight-year-old child’s introduction to a pony called Bella to bring out of the oasis of a childhood that later turns sour
- Specifics. Exactly what is it that affects the viewpoint character so much?
- Easing language that has become stilted or formal, or language that intrudes into the viewpoint character’s voice.
A bit hard going, but I think the extra work is worth it.