I’m being virtuous.
Here I am even with my structural edits for book three (The Business of Death) due tomorrow, and I’ve been frantically getting them done, even though I have new stories I want to work on – writers are like magpies and new stories are extremely shiny at this stage in the novel-writing cycle. New stories, other stories, wearing a tricorne hat, mowing the lawn, anything but the story you’ve been focusing on for months and months.
Though I do like this process. I’m at the final read through tweaking stage – which usually takes me about a week to two weeks.
I tend to find that the first two-thirds take up about three-quarters of that time, because they’re all about set up, getting the story moving, feeding in necessary back story but not too much, and generally sorting out all the thrashing about I do in earlier drafts. It also takes me time to get into reading the story yet again, you read through something enough times and all you can see are the mistakes – it’s like chewing on used gum, you’ve ground the flavour out of it. The story’s not story to you any more, it’s words that you are using to perform what you hope is a fascinating and interesting function.
But by the time I get to the final hundred pages, something curious happens, it’s all about momentum, and if the novel is going well, it tends to drag me along by then. And the story starts to feel new.
Doesn’t mean that I’m paying the pages any less attention, just that there’s less work and more story pay off going on – it’s also, probably, because it’s the end that I spend most of my structural edits, before this read through, working on.
The last two books were like that, and this is too. Which either means that it’s going OK, or I’m deluding myself.
How do you find it with your edits and rewrites? Is it the beginning or the end that’s hardest for you?
Oh, and tomorrow once I hand this in I’m going to see Inception or Scott Pilgrim versus the World – any recs for either?