This morning I finished the first draft of my fifth novel. I say ‘finished’ because I got to the part where I could type THE END and not have to write any more.
But of course, now the real work begins. The writing, the planning, the thinking-up, is the fun part. Your characters take you on an adventure and as you are carried along you get to know more and more about them and understand why they do the things they do. It’s a particular kind of schizophrenia and don’t worry; I won’t hurt you.
Now comes the editing. Or ‘ead-‘itting, to be more precise. The story needs to be put into shape to make it fit for human consumption. I might know what I mean by a certain phrase but will other people, the people who live outside my head, I mean? Does the story hang together? Have I missed something out? Have I forgotten something I mentioned early on?
I’ve mentioned before my writing routine, the daily word target of 2,000 words. This allows me a substantial chunk of the day to revisit what I’ve written and to scrawl notes in an exercise book: reminders of facts to check, of questions to answer, of changes to make. This makes the editing process a lot easier – I’m able to do much of it as I go along. Therefore the editing process, well, my part of it, is a matter of tweaking and fine-tuning. Does a particular sentence need trimming or expanding? Does a particular simile convey the most effective image?
I tend to read the book out loud to see if the language flows but I’ve found the best way to spot typos and other errors is to read the book backwards.
When I’ve done this, I sent it out to a couple of friends, willing volunteers who will give me their honest reactions to the story and spot any wayward typos that they can. This is a nerve-wracking time for me… I want my baby to be liked.
I begin this process tomorrow; the incentive to get it done is that I have ideas for my next book already beginning to crowd my imagination. Tonight I celebrate reaching THE END.