Lately, the questions I am asked most often are “how is your book going?” and “when will it be finished?”
The second question has a shorter answer, so I’ll start with that. “Soon, I hope.”
The first will need a bit of background information.
At the start of 2010, I began the planning process of a novel which started with a single sentence, describing the plot in 15 words or less. The sentence grew into an outline of three acts, which turned into a one page synopsis, then a four page synopsis and finally a listing of each individual scene. I wrote reference guides for all characters and narrative summaries from the points of view of the protagonists.
Each step inevitably resulted in rework, until several iterations and countless moments of frustration later, I felt ready to start writing the book.
To cut a long story short, I am now editing a complete novel, scrutinising each sentence – line by line.
With painstaking preparation behind me, I am fairly confident that I probably won’t change the high level structure or the sequence of scenes too much.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of the “clips” that make up the rest.
And this is the question I ask myself every time I open a word processor to start a day of editing – At what point will I be satisfied that I have written a particular sentence as best I can or at least well enough, to move onto the next sentence without looking back?
This is what I struggle with.
For someone like me, the editing of a new chapter can only be described as agony, going through several stages of culling and cutting and putting it all back again, of rubbishing and then changing individual words and sentences until, all of a sudden, it reads the way I want it to read and for some reason flows again, unlike before.
At that moment, all is right with the world and the end is finally in sight.
Until I start editing the next chapter.