I’ve been involved in a couple of on line things to do with writing in the last few days. First there was the Harvey Duckman writers on-line get together and broadcast as part of Scarborough scifi on-line (which replaced the convention for the obvious reasons this year). This was tremendous fun to be part of, and makes for good viewing too, if you are a writer or reader of genre fiction. With a lot of writers giving out advise and views on a whole host of subjects.
It can be found here on the Harvey Duckman presents page if you missed it live and want to catch up. https://www.facebook.com/harveyduckman/
On top of that, I was invited to be a Guest on Mark Adams ecliptic daily lock-down pod cast ‘Don’t say the C word‘, where me and Mr Adams and a fascinating chat about indie publishing. The episode with me in it (which I have not listened back to myself yet) is due to be broadcast on Friday. I’ll talk more about it, and Mr Adams show then. But these little half hour pod casts are fun, entertaining and cover a really broad set of subjects so if you have a little time to spare check them out.
One theme that came through both these events was what makes the difference between having written a book, and actually having written a book… Or to be more exact what the difference between having a first draft and having a finished published novel is. Not in a long details explanation of the process involved (it varies for everyone and for every novel in my experience) but as a general guide to give people an idea of what kind of process to follow, so what follows is a check list, of sorts, its not holistic, its just a general guide to give the writer with a first draft on there hands an idea of what they need to do next…
- Read your first draft critically and make lots of notes on everything. Every inconstancy, every idea, every character, what seems to work, what doesn’t. But don’t change anything as you go, just read and take notes.
- put the damn thing down, do something else, write something else, learn to tap dance, read everything you can find on the internet about honey bees, play some games, develop an interest in Equus asinus sanctuaries. Whatever, just leave the novel alone for a while to come back at it fresh.
- start a second draft, use your notes, put all those clever things in that make it seem like you knew what you were doing and where the story was going all along. Those bits where the character that turns up in chapter ten (because that is when you came up with them when you ere writing the first draft) is passed in the corridor in chapter two, and gives the main character a look that feels unsettling.
- having done a second draft rep[eat steps 1 and 2, then do a third
- find an editor, be it a friend or a professional ( or if your lucky both of those in one person) and unleash them on your darlings
- repeat step 2 while you wait for your editor, by now you should know everything there is to know about Equus asinus… (and if you haven’t looked that up then no I am not going to explain what they are)
- Listen to your editor, listen to what worked , what didn’t work, but bare in mind its your novel. It is fine to disagree with your editor, (though I seldom do) it is fine to ignore their advise (though I seldom do), its also fine to decide you need another editor (again, I am extremely lucky in mine, but I know writers who have had there books slashed by editors who didn’t ‘get’ the novel or ‘get’ the writer. So don’t make the mistake of thinking they are always right) (except for mine who generally is)
- do a forth draft, working through all the edits and fixes , and working out if they are the right edits and fixes.
- read through again
- find beta readers, a small group of them, and unleash them on your darlings, preferably with printed copies of proofs ( I use amazons proof copy service for these)
- read your own proof copy, with a highlighter pen and notes in the margin ,, but by this stage your just fixing small things , typos, the odd bad sentence, the odd grammatical fuckadoodle…
- take all the notes from all your beta readers and your won form the proof copy read and go through the whole document one last time…
And that is it. Well more or less. You can always take a break and study a little more on the subject of Equus asinus if you want. But by this point what you have should be as done as it is ever likely to be and you probably hate it just a little… But you love it a little more…
Then its just a case of publishing… covers.. marketing.. finding an audience.. writing the next one… buying a Equus asinus and keeping it in the garden….