Tuesday 9 June 2015

First Edit - Let the Games Begin

I'm doing the happy stressed dance today.

I was fairly fed up when I finished writing novel number six last Wednesday (no, you haven't missed anything, one of those was never published). It had been a long hard slog to the end. I swore I wouldn't touch the manuscript again until I return to the UK in September.

I reasoned that even if I did want to look at it before then, I have far too much work to focus on. I have twenty international human rights delegates arriving in the space of three months, with hotels, transport, volunteer placements, homestays, speakers, logistics and all that jazz to figure out. I have a great team, and a program assistant (flying all the way from Bosnia), to help me out, but it's still a lot of work. 

Honestly, who has time to edit during all of that?

Well, I thought I'd just take a little peek...

I'm now on page 139!

That's edited.

Despite having broken the spellchecker with the weight of dodgy words, it would appear that most of those dodgy words were Irish. Or fore'n as me spellchecker likes to think of it. There doesn't actually appear to be that much glaringly wrong with the words themselves. They seem to have fallen into an acceptable order.

I'm still not entirely confident about it - no one ever is. Not on first edit. But the fact I've foregone stuff I really should be doing in favour of reading stuff that can probably wait, attests that it is, at least, readable. 

Couple of characters I'm loving. Aoife, obviously, the wicked stepmother. Bit of a rebel child, born before the days of crack cocaine and Harley Ds, making up for it with fast horses and soma. She's a mess, but I understand her. "Love me!" she cries, whilst killing everyone you know. 

She has her issues, who don't?

Then there's Aodh, the eldest man child. The character I thought I'd feel least towards, and actually feel the most. He's the surprise in the story that kept me going. I've mentioned how hard it is to retell a story where you can only alter the in-between but not the ending. Where you know where it's all going to end up even as you start the first line. It's difficult for people who just like to invent shit to stick to an outline. You have to have something in the story that's a complete unknown - that you write to discover.

For me, that was Aodh. I had no idea who he was when he first appeared, and I've watched him write himself into a full-grown character.

The book's in three parts, and I'm just coming to the end of Part I. This was the easiest part to write, because it's a bit of a court intrigue: plots, petty jealousies and plenty of sex. Easy writing, easy reading. 

It got a bit more complicated after that - when the children are turned into swans. It's hard to write about a group of swans without sounding insane or corny. You certainly can't write about swans having sex - especially with humans - unless you're going to turn it into an altogether different sort of story (one that would get you banned on Smashwords). Relationships need handling with care.

They're also in the middle of the sea for 300 years, so that needed work. Unless you're willing to skip over three hundred years in a couple of paragraphs, or bash away at it, making symbolic reference to the sea and analogising your readers to death, something else really needs to happen there - other characters, other sights, other worlds. 

I'm happy, because I think the style I found for myself in Rosy Hours has followed through into Children of Lir. I think it is pretty - and I like pretty writing. But this time it isn't dark - and I like dark writing. 

I mean, there are some dark parts, but there are no horrorful parts, and I miss that a little.

I don't know yet because I haven't asked anyone else, but I think it's a good book. It's very different to Rosy Hours. I think it might attract a very different audience. Or it might attract a great deal of criticism. Always a risky business with retellings, especially loosely historical ones.

Really, this is just a post about how happy I am that it doesn't suck balls.


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