Thursday, 15 May 2008

Back again

Well, I’m back to where I was at the end of January before I had a look at the structure of the w-i-p. That is, about 60% of the way through. It has been an interesting journey and is beginning to pick up speed. I’ve even figured out the detail of a very vague section up ahead, a bit like hurtling along at 200mph and seeing the dense fog ahead of you begin to lift.

Of course, this is just the ‘first’ draft. I put that in inverted commas because the first draft committed to paper/machine only gets there by a weird process in the strange space that is the inside of my head. I have walked through a scene with the actors until I can see it from all directions. In the process, I have knocked a lot of the really rough edges off, leaving it ready for detailed editing.

I used to look at editing as a necessary chore. I suspect that stems from the amount of non-fiction I’ve produced. While editing is necessary to achieve clarity, it is also necessary to remove all ambiguity and layering. These are the very things that, if used properly, make a piece of fiction interesting – to read and to write. I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into this.

At the moment the text is both text and a series of notes to myself. In trying to conjure up an atmosphere for example, I will pile on the adjectives in the first draft. They are there to guide me. When I come back, the challenge is to find a word or phrase that will encapsulate the section of thesaurus I have thrown at the canvas. The trick also is to keep all the links to other bits of text that will work on the reader at a subconscious level so that one scene will echo another through mood, scent, movement or whatever other device is appropriate.

I’m currently reading a master at this sort of thing - John Sladek. I’ll post a piece over on grumbooks when I’ve finished, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a text that makes such enormous leaps. It’s wonderful. What seems a throwaway line in one chapter emerges a few chapters down the line as significant. Things going on in the background suddenly flower elsewhere. And all told in a fresh and engaging style. Brilliant. Inspirational.

And the real beauty is that my own work has developed into a four book cycle. Hard as individual words and sentences sometimes are, I am still so excited with the project and so much looking forward to the other three books.

1 comment:

Lane said...

It's great that you've still just as excited about your project. Four books!

Agree totally about slathering on adjectives in the first draft. The fun is peeling them back later - although you've described the process so much better:-)