When in Doubt, Cut (28/9/09)

Posted in News

The great re-write-athon continues. King of the Crags has gone back to Gollancz now (ARCs expected around the end of October or early November). The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice has exited its penultimate rewrite, with another pre-submission spit-and-polish coming up in November. Next up, it’s another rewrite – the Gazetteer this time, then another one (that spit and polish), then probably another one (The Order of the Scales) and then probably yet another one, this time the edit to Thief-Taker. All in all, the great re-write-athon looks like it’s going to add up to something like seven months. With a bit of luck there might be a chance to work a bit on The Warlock’s Shadow and one or two bits and pieces. Or maybe I’ll spend my few spare hours watching True Blood and Dexter and other uplifting entertainments. Dammit, for a moment I had a flash of yearning for the good old days of NOT being published, when everything was new and shiny and rewriting  didn’t occupy HALF A F**KING YEAR!

In the meantime, however, it seems I am doomed to become a re-write expert. With two down and four to go, you’ll all doubtless be hugely please to know that I already have much unwanted wisdom burning to be shared. We’ll start with a simple mantra with which I shall beat myself repeatedly, probably wrapped around a handy piece of two-by-four: When In Doubt, Cut.

See, that uneasy feeling you get reading through your own manuscript at some point is the creeping realisation that your near-perfect work might, in fact, have an itsy-bitsy flaw in it. Now if you’re me, you’ll get this sensation  around about the time you get to a certain scene, say, of which you are particularly fond and proud. A scene that is, you believe, essential to the overall greatness of the story you’re trying to tell. A scene that will make your readers gasp with awe and bow at the mention of your name. A scene that is pivotal to atmosphere or to the understanding of some character, even if it’s a but superfluous as far as the plot goes and, in fact, had to be mangled into place with a crowbar and a mallet between two chapters that had previously been perfectly cosy neighbours.

You get where this is going, right. When In Doubt, Cut. No matter how awesome your scene is, if it doesn’t belong in your story then it doesn’t belong in your story. Cut it. Do it Now! Don’t think about it, just do it, and revel in the relief of knowing that that, even though it was hard, you did the Right Thing. Yes, I’m afraid some scenes need some Tough Love. You can always put them in some other story, right?

Or you can cut them out and post them on the internet (this is one of those Blue Peter here’s-one-I-made-earlier outtakes because what I cut out of Thief-Taker was pretty naff. But I promise, any more polished finished scenes that end up lying bleeding on the floor, I’ll put them up :-)

And if my recording of True Blood doesn’t start behaving itself RIGHT NOW then the next thing I’ll be re-writing is a letter to my insurance company explaining how exactly I accidentally dropped a laptop through the TV screen and right out the other side.

Anyway. Yes. When In Doubt, Cut.

How to Get Published: Myths and Legends (23/09/09)

Posted in Critical Failures

Hints and tips brought back from Fantasycon 2009 and a few reminiscences.

So you’ve written a novel. You’ve got the craft of putting words together into coherent sentences, choreographing those sentences into scintillating paragraphs, corralling your paragraphs into scenes and assembling a story. How do you get from there to seeing your name up on the shelves in the local Waterstones? The internet will fall over itself to tell you what you can do. All sorts of books will do that too. Trouble is, do any of them really work? Continue reading “How to Get Published: Myths and Legends (23/09/09)”

One rewrite finishes, another one starts (8/9/09)

Posted in News

The rewrite for King of the Crags is finally finished. (This is author-speak, which is, I’ve discovered, much like scientist-speak or engineer-speak for finished in that what it actually means, is that the bulk of the hard work is done and now I’m going to fiddle around the edges for several years).

OK. Almost finished. It will be finished before Fantasycon. Promise. Finished and deliverated. Well, finished and deliverated except for all the changes that will happen during the copy-edit, that is.

OK, OK, not finished then. On schedule. Will that do?

No it won’t, because April next year still feels like half a lifetime away. There’s the now definitely officially deleted prologue, but that’s old news. New news is that there is a most excellent draft map from the most excellent Dave Senior (no link – sorry) which just goes to show what a real professional can do when compared with my own somewhat less excellent draft map posted previously. Also, I’ve been sitting on the incredibly gorgeous draft cover for King of the Crags for ages now with dragon-art by the master of dragon art Dominic Harman. Unveiled exclusively here in advance of Fantasycon!

See what I did here? Lots of stuff by other people… No actual new material.

There will be, though, and a lot sooner than April. There’s a Sollos-and-Kemir short story waiting patiently to be written. There’s the gazetteer, nearly done, probably ready as a first draft by the end of the month, and believe me, that sucker’s going straight up here, warts and all and anyone who helps to proof-read it will get a part in the movie big thank-you. Promise.

In the meantime though, I have to go bury myself in The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice again.

Status Report (1/9/09)

Posted in News

Am uninspired. Witicisms and worldly insights elude me. The rewriting of The King of the Crags is a few days from finished. The first draft of the gazetteer might just about be done for Fantasycon. Still awaiting official map. Yadda yadda yadda. I am dragon-ed out. Am half moved to drop it all after this rewrite is done and go and do something else for a bit. Elf Cops: Kicking ass[1] and taking names. Pixellated wizards dealing in cut-and-shut horses. Overworked and underpaid goblin engineers building designer monsters for their arms-dealer troll masters. Something daft like that. Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Or urban fantasy. Something to do with zombies, or maybe some edgy vampire thing. Something that sells bucketloads is original. [2]

Fantasycon. Yes. I’ll be at Fantasucon. Come to Fantasycon! Everyone come to fantasycon and buy me beer so I can dazzle you with the exceptionally magnificent cover to King of the Crags and with awesome author insights like: How come zombies always seem to have all their teeth even when the rest of them has half rotted away? and If vampires are cold, how come I can see their breath?

I’ll get me coat.

[1] Don’t kick asses. They kick back and they’re much better at it.

[2] Yeah. Like dragons. Totally edge-of-the-envelope.