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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Not Waving But Drowning

Whew - I'm finally breaking the surface for an evening from the OCEAN of edits I have been wading/swimming/drowning in for the past two weeks.

Procrastination? Who's got TIME?? Especially when you have EIGHTY pages of edits!! and a DEADline!

I even had to miss the amazing Keren David's launch for the Almost True (which I am just finishing reading - incredible - the story is so fast-paced and gripping, and the main character is just so real, his voice is so true that I'd find it hard to believe she wasn't actually a teenage boy, if I didn't know her already. And her writing - her characterisations and ways of expressing thoughts and feelings through actions inspires me to be a better writer. And also makes me incredibly jealous.)

On the plus side - and it's an AWFULLY BIG plus!! - I have finally received that most-longed-for, dreamed about, aspired to, precious thing - a CONTRACT for my first novel!!!


I still can't quite believe it - I have to keep pinching myself.

And actually, it's not just my first novel - it's for two!!! How incredible is that?

And more than a little bit scary - especially now I've seen the contract and the deadline for the first three chapters and detailed synopsis of the second are currently due on December 15th (which seems awfully close when I've got 80 pages of edit and 3 fairy-tales to write by Dec 1st) - but I don't know what that's going to be!! HELP!!
(Sorry for all the capitals - I'm over-excited, it's the first typing I've done that's not editing for days)

However my amazing agent and fairy godmother Jenny is hopefully working her magic and conjuring up a little more time for that - or perhaps choosing a story!

For now, the edits are the priority - in all their varied glory:

a) First there are the line edits - change this reference, cut this word, alter that sentence. Easy, straight-forward, quick.

b) Then there're the slightly more chunky ones - take out this character, this scene, add this back-story. A bit more tricky - how do you add all this information whist retaining the flow and the pace of the story? How do you cut one thing without pulling at threads throughout the entire novel...?

c) Then there are much bigger changes - add in a whole plotline, weaving it into the story and make it make sense with everything that already happens and look how everything afterwards is also impacted. Hmm - a biggy.

d) Then there are sort of vague, potentially volatile changes - strengthen this character, strengthen this relationship. Strengthen a character? A relationship? Look at every scene they're in and change their behaviour, their actions - this is one I'm really worried about as it could have big repurcussions and requires a lot of thought.

e) Then, finally, when all that is finally (hopefully!) done, come the fine-toothed comb edits - read through the entire manuscript, looking at any repetition of phrase or idea, picking at any sentence that could be better-expressed, any adjective that isn't pulling its weight, really concentrating on making this book the best it can possibly be.

f)After all this, the manuscript is bound to have grown (mine's grown 3,000 words in two weeks) so then you have to go through again cutting, pruning and adjusting any extraneous word (My agent and I cut 40,000 words before we even approached any publishers!).

And then, finally, (hopefully by the deadline!) I'll heave a big sigh of relief and send it off back to the editors.

Who will then send back the next batch of edits :)


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on securing a book deal, that is the most incredible news! Hope you get it all done but most importantly I hope you enjoy doing it all.
I wrote my dissertation on fairytales so I'd be interested to know what it is you're doing related to them?


Anonymous said...

Hi Lucy - thanks for posting, and for the congrats - I'm over the moon!

I'm also writing a series of 8 rhyming 'Fairy Tales with a Twist' for Orchard Books - each told from the POV of a traditional 'villain' - not sure if I can say much more at the mo, but they're great fun to write, but sometimes those pesky words just refuse to rhyme.

Wolf, for example!

What was your dissertation about specifically?

k x

Anonymous said...

I used Grimm's fairytales and looked at the maturation process in girls. It all got rather grusesome and sexualised in terms of the representation of these girls. I found different stages in Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White!

Was so much fun to research and write.

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