Friday, December 19, 2008

Ain't nothin' goin' on...

Editing, for me at least, is the least interesting part of the creative process. It's also the least interesting to blog about: at the moment, I'm reading the first draft of The Last Free City, and have noted some things that need changing. You don't say...

If you want to read an interesting and informative post about self-editing fiction, this isn't it. (The good news, however, is that this is: Sam Hayes--or Sam Hayesova as her Slovakian fans know her--maintains an excellent blog with a post on just this topic. Sam's post on editing also works in a link to an excellent Regina Spektor song which is worth the entry fee alone).

My initial view of The Last Free City is that it's not as good as The Dog of the North, a feeling I've long come to distrust. The more whiskers it grows, the more I'll come to love it. There's really nothing unfixably wrong with it. I've planted a few seeds in the story which don't pay off by the end, so I've got to decide whether to shoehorn in the payoffs or drop the seeds altogether. One of the minor plot strands threatens to overwhelm the others. One of the main characters seems underdeveloped. A couple of the scenes probably don't have the right viewpoint character.

On the other hand, some things are better than I thought. I have a minor character so spiteful she is a joy on the page; and more importantly the milieu of Taratanallos, the Last Free City, so malignantly undercuts the title as to create a sense of jewelled menace which is richer and darker than I'd originally conceived.

Over Christmas I'll finish the reading (another 50 or so pages to go) and then it's back to the business end of rewriting. Wish me luck!

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And don't forget to vote for The Dog of the North in the Gemmell Legend Award poll. Voting starts on 26 December and I'll provide full instructions once the lists open.

4 comments:

Matt Curran said...

Hi, Tim

I think because it's the dreaded "second book" you'll always be comparing it to the first, because Dog of the North is published - it's become the yard-stick.

I think you're right not to trust that feeling that it's not as good as the first, because lets face it - once you get to the editing stage, objectivity is questionable. It wasn't until I had someone independently look at my second book that I saw a couple of plot gaps which I resolved after a short break from it. It also gave me the confidence to continue with it.

So I've no doubt on the strength of the first book, that your second one will be a success.
Good luck with the read!

Alis said...

Hi Tim

I really do wish you very much luck with the editing and rewriting - unlike you I find it one of the best parts of writing as I feel I'm finally getting somewhere close to the book I originally conceived of.

Have a great Christmas, editing or not!

David Isaak said...

Dealing with those big matters of proportion, balance, etc. is the hardest thing for me. It's difficult to draw back far enough to see the chape of the thing.

So I'm with you; I dislike self-editing the full draft.

Editing with an editor, on the other hand, is great fun. But the editor has to like the book well enough to edit it. Sigh.

Tim Stretton said...

Thanks Matt. Grit my teeth and blind faith it is!

Alis, if I had an original conception of the book I might feel like that about it! But that was so nebulous that what I've actually written has driwned that original whisper out. For me the primacy of what's sitting on the page overwhelms everything else.

David, you've hit on the hardest bit. Unless it's patently wrong on readthrough (hey, how's that for hyphen-killing?) I leave it be and trust to luck...