The manuscript is complete. Yes, four months after starting, and one day early, I’ve finished the fantasy novel I’ve been ghostwriting. All that remains is to compose an email to my client, attach the manuscript and click Send. Do I feel good about that?
What do you think?
Today’s final session has been almost entirely a pleasure. My anticipated hike to the summit of this ghostwriting mountain turned out to be more of a stroll in the sunshine – almost literally, as I’ve been working under the clean bright skies of an English spring day. Bliss!
One of today’s tasks was to correct some inconsistencies in the colours of things. One character’s hair switched from red to blonde and back again. Then there were the uniforms of the various warring factions in the story. I wrote recently on this blog about how I like to use colour-coding to define opposing forces. Well, I employed that technique in this novel too (hey, don’t knock something when you know it works) but the occasional memory lapse meant the armies kept changing colour! Everything’s consistent now – I think!
I’ve also woven in some snippets of new backstory I’d been asked to include by the editorial team. While I’ve been writing this first book in the trilogy, they’ve been busy crafting the storyline for book two, so this second draft phase has been our last chance to foreshadow things planned for later in the series. These included a passing mention of two new characters set to play major roles in the future, and some background hints at the broader history of our imaginary world.
Late inclusions like these can be surprisingly tricky. I refuse just to drop them in willy-nilly. Nobody likes an infodump. I prefer to find a scene that already exists, at the appropriate point in the narrative, and integrate the new information in such a way that it bears on the actions or mindset of one of my POV characters. Anything else is just clumsy exposition.
The rest of this long, final session has been just me and the words: my final opportunity to read the novel – at considerable speed, admittedly – and make it right. More direct thought to help the reader empathise with the POV characters? Done. A light dusting of fresh environmental descriptions to help build the world? Done. Another cup of coffee to keep my eyes on the screen? You betcha.
The result is 85,000 words of prose that’s about to leave my laptop on the next step of its journey towards the printed page. Do the words feel like they’re mine? Well, yes. And no. It’s a curious beast, this ghostwriter business. For a brief, intense period I’ve been allowed to play with this story to my heart’s content.
Now it’s time to give it back.
This isn’t quite the end of my Ghostwriter Diaries. I’m planning to deliver one final report, probably in a week or two. In it, I’ll answer some of the questions people often ask me about ghostwriting. Maybe you have a question of your own. If so, please feel free to ask it – just ask me in the comments box below, or send me an email. I’ll be happy to share my answers.
Now I’m going to exchange my coffee for something a little stronger.
I think I’ve earned it.