Tuesday, 28 July 2020


I know some authors who hate editing. I used to, but I now actually really enjoy it. A long time ago, an author had said (in a Tweet to me) that their favourite aspect of writing was the line-edits, because they loved tightening the words until they squealed. At the time I thought she was mad.


Now I know exactly what she means.

Don't get me wrong. I still love the thrill of the first draft - finding out what the story is about; working out how to make it all fit together; putting characters through hell and then getting them out again (or not, as the case may be!).

I'm less enamoured of the structural edit that follows, though thankfully, this time around, my extra planning in the early stages has mean that the structure has (so far) largely been unchanged and when I compare the scene list to my 'beat sheets' the book is still on track and hasn't suddenly developed an enormous middle or lost the third act along the way! This is clearly the way to go in future, because for some past books, I've been lost in the swamp of structural edits for ages.

But now comes the fun bit. I know what happens, I know what order it all happens in. Now I just have to try and get the words right! Of course, then it'll be off to my amazing editor, Fiona, who will make the whole thing sparkle, but I would like it to be halfway decent before she sees it!

So, wish me luck... I may be some time!

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

First draft done? CHECK!

Hang out the bunting, chill me some wine... I finished the first draft of book #9 at the weekend. All 95.5K words of it! And then immediately wrote the prologue for book #10! But that's a story for another day...

I'm relieved to have finished the first draft, but the serious work starts now. First up will be my structural edit. I already suspect one small strand will be going, so I need to unpick that and take it out. But after that I'll be checking pace and where the main 'beats' of the book are, and probably splitting it into chapters at that point. To be honest, this is my least favourite phase of writing a book, but it needs to be done!

After that comes the much more fun aspect of 'trying to get the words right'. This takes more time and although more fun, is also more tiring (at least to me).

But before ALL that, comes a large glass of wine, and a re-read of Aeron Returns and War (to make sure I'm keeping faithful to everyone's voices and mannerisms).

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Shiny New Thing...

Bright new shiny thing!!
"Look! Shiny New Thing!!"

My brain does this every time!

I get to within sight of the end of a first draft and it's as if my brain has finished it and moved on. In some senses, it has finished it. It's written in my head. It's just not yet actually written down.

I have about 5000-8000 words still to write in this first draft of book #9. That's all. I should (should) get it finished this week. I know how many scenes there are to go, and I know what happens in all of the scenes.

And so my head has gone walkabout and is on to something new. Vaguely related, most of the time, but an unnecessary distraction, nonetheless. Yes, it's all very lovely imagining the characters in another 10 years or so, but that's not helpful to finishing this book. And I don't know that I should really be anticipating writing an urban fantasy version of The Forsyte Saga, with generation upon generation of people.

Instead of managing to sit down and write the last few scenes, my brain is flitting all over the place, thinking about Aeron and Faran at forty years old. Or about the book that's been on hold for two years while I wrote and edited The Trilogy (and now a fourth book in the series). Or about the book that's now been on hold for eight years. Or about yet another book that's beginning to poke my brain, saying "Look at me! I'm new. And shiny. And at that fun stage where almost anything could happen!"

And that's the crux. The magical journey of discovery is largely over for book #9. I know what happens. I know how all the characters will react to it all. I know I have the less fun job of a structural edit looming, although at least the more fun 'getting the words right' edits will follow that.

But for these other potential books, all of that magic is still ahead. I sort of know what might happen, but nothing is fixed and all could change. My brain (naturally) wants to do all the fun, creative stuff of making people up, designing a new world and making things happen, rather than the harder (and distinctly less fun) bits of editing.

My desk is never this tidy...

The final week of writing a first draft is always the hardest. My brain has moved on but the hard work still needs to be done. But hopefully, by this time next week, three months after writing the first words in Scrivener, I'll have my first draft in the bag.

See you next week. Assuming the bright new shiny things haven't kidnapped me.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020


In my newsletter in May, I rashly wondered if I would have finished the first draft of the new book by the end of June.


But I'm getting there. The whole go-back-and-change-half-of-what's-already-written that I did at 40K slowed me down. I'm now at just over 70K words and am into the final act. And the change was needed, so I'm glad I did it. I just wish I'd done it a bit sooner.

Of course, this is only the first draft. After that, I'll do a structural edit, and then a 'trying to get the words right' edit. And then it will be off to my editor for her to work her magic on it. That's currently in the diary for late September. I should manage it! I had a planning session yesterday which seemed to suggest I only had 16 more scenes to write. No doubt that list will grow, but I'm going to try and keep to it!

Lock down is finally beginning to ease (I'm based in Scotland, so it's not easing as fast here as elsewhere), though as I'm not the most sociable of people at the best of times, I'm not rushing out to do anything! I still regret that we didn't have our holiday on Harris and Lewis (scheduled to start 5 days after lock down!), but maybe this autumn we'll head off for a week somewhere?

But before all that, I need a haircut! Seriously, what was clipped to grade 5 at the nape of my neck is now hitting my collar! That short 'fringe' you can see in my profile pic? That's now down to my ears. Goodness knows what my hairdresser will be able to do with it all. I'm booked in for an hour-long appointment at the end of July, but my hair's annoying me so much, I may have shaved my head before I get there! It's too long to leave loose but not long enough to tie back or clip back. I spend my days with it back in either a very broad hairband, or a bandana. My hairdresser suggested that given it had grown so much, maybe I might consider a different, longer style, since most of the difficult 'growing it in' stage would be past. Before lock down, I might have considered that, but my hair is driving me so insane that I've realised that the only two styles I could consider are: so long I can tie it back (and I haven't the patience to get to that); or back to it being short.

Anyway, back to fighting creatures that can brainwash you into attacking your own side...