>The novel is done (2)

>Having completed the first draft, I’ve now finished my initial polish and delivered the MS to the editors. So that really is the end of phase one. My own brief editing process (brief by necessity of a tight deadline, the curse – and blessing – of a ghost-writing project) shaved about 1,000 words off the MS. It’s still a little flabby, but it’s better to give your editor something to manhandle. We could well lose up to 5,000 more words in the final draft.

So now I wait while the editors do their stuff. Next month I’ll get the MS back, peppered with corrections, suggested alterations and comments. I’ll have five or six weeks to work through it and create the second draft. For me, that’s where the process ends. The editors will continue to make minor revisions through to publication, but by that stage it should be 99% there. And my job is 100% done.

The hiatus gives me a chance to (a) catch my breath and (b) turn my attention to The Next Project, which is a set of historical novels I’m trying to get off the ground. You might think that’s a big departure from fantasy fiction, but it’s not. Writers use the same tools whatever the genre. The big challenge for me with this project is research, as I’m no historian. So next stop is a bunch of material on the early 17th century … with caution.

Why caution? I know from experience that it’s possible to do too much research. Or at least to let that research take over. You get so seduced by all this great stuff you’ve dug up – so interesting, so detailed! – you let it take over the story. It’s like a movie director pointing his camera at the scenery and not the action. In all fiction, story rules.

Still, as they say, the devil’s in the detail. So for me, for a while, it’s back to school!

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