Ghostwriter Diaries 16

NotebookHuzzah! I’m a very happy ghost! The first draft of the novel is now complete, nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. Having stormed through the final action-packed chapters, I now find myself with no more story left to tell.

But if you think I’m ready to kick back with a stiff drink, think again. My ultimate delivery deadline is April 14th, which gives me a little under six weeks to produce the second draft. That’s a fortnight longer than originally planned and therefore excellent news. But it’s still tight.

So what does the second draft involve? Well, I already have notes from the editorial team on the first part of the manuscript. Similar notes on the other two sections should turn up in my inbox soon. The feedback so far concerns a few stylistic issues (mostly to do with point of view) and there’s one passage to rewrite because of a minor revision to the storyline. The rest of it is the usual nips and tucks, correcting continuity glitches, clarifying action and amping up drama.

Beyond the specifics of the notes, the editing process will also give me a chance to reassess everything I’ve written, and spend some welcome time generally crafting the prose. I’ll reappraise the storyline from each of the main characters’ POVs and decide whether their actions really are as well motivated as I thought they were when I first put them down. I’ll perform basic housekeeping tasks like streamlining the speech attribution and scything out unnecessary adverbs. I’ll swap dry descriptions for startling ones. I may even be able to do a little late worldbuilding in those scenes that seem just a little too thinly drawn. I’ll seek out any opportunity to really it sparkle.

Writing is like making a sword. To create the first draft, you have to assume the mantle of a blacksmith. In a cave of white heat, you hammer out the iron blade with brute force and gallons of sweat. You don’t look up, and you don’t stop until you’re done.

The second draft is different. It means setting aside your apron, bending attentively over the grindstone and honing that crude blade until it’s sharp enough to cut silk. All the time hoping against hope that you didn’t screw up and make a ploughshare by mistake.

Have I forged an elegant cutting weapon or a clumsy farming tool? I’m about to find out.

What do you think?

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