Tuesday 3 August 2010

Revising A Book

Revising a book has to be one of the most joyous and most frustrating things in existence. It’s a chance to understand how bad (or good) your first draft was – and it’s certainly never perfect.
It’s back to square one, tearing down what you’d lovingly constructed and rebuilding in, hopefully to make it a better, much more solid and beautiful structure. The joy comes when you look at something you’ve reworked and realise that it’s much closer to your original intentions.
But it’s not solely about structure. It’s about character mood, the rhythm of sentences, the pace of the book, having dialogue that seems real. It’s like a Soviet exercise in self-criticism, except you’re the only person who has to make the criticisms as well as take them and you have to have the courage to be completely honest with yourself. That’s the only way to produce a book that’s halfway decent.
As anyone can tell I’m halfway through the revisions on my second novel, Drive the Cruel Winter Away. I believe it works, or that it well when I’ve finished with this. I’ll revise, then revise again, then send it off to the friend who tells me the truth about what I’ve written and listen closely to his remarks. Then I’ll make more changes.
With a little luck it should be finished by the end of November, about a year after it was begun.
And then it’ll be time to begin the next novel. Of course.

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