I've not been idle - oh no! But what have I been doing instead, I hear you ask? Well...for those who remember The Fast Show...
This week, I 'ave been mostly editing.
Every spare minute, the laptop's been on, I've plugged the memory stick in, and set to work on StarMark. And you know what (sorry if I'm banging on about this) - it feels pretty good. I am currently at page 120 of 190ish and going strong.
There are certain things in the process that I've noticed are very different this time. Perhaps, having left this story for three years in a drawer, my writing ability has improved over time...Perhaps I'm more familiar with the storyline...Perhaps...oh, I dunno!
You be the judge! (And I have no idea why the text has gone doo-lally later on - apologies again! I've tried to sort it but without success...)
1. I seem to have found my writer's voice - the real one, the one that says 'Katherine wrote this.'
The strange thing is that I seem to be taking out all the big authorly words and simplifying the text. I find myself looking at the text and thinking 'That sounds so pretentious! How would you say it to get the important bits across in that scene?'
Irvana looked to where Matild indicated. The trees appeared to be thinning, the green gloom giving way to dappled sunlight, until suddenly the forest lay behind them and a magnificent view was revealed. She shaded her eyes from the glare of the sun, and gazed in wonder.
The road wound down from the forest edge through fields of swaying corn, towards the foot of an imposing cliff. At its base, fortified walls contained the hundreds of buildings which clung to the steep slope sweeping up from a busy harbour towards the rock. Where the gradient became almost vertical, there were no houses, but the natural fortress this created was topped by walls of gleaming stone. Excitement sent shivers of anticipation through Irvana’s body. So this was the city….it surpassed everything that she had imagined.
Irvana gripped the sides of the jolting cart and leaned round Matild. The trees appeared to be thinning, the green gloom of the forest giving way to dappled sunlight, until suddenly the trees lay behind them. She squinted in the bright glare of the sun and gazed in wonder at what lay before them.
The road wound right from the forest edge and down, through fields of swaying corn, towards the foot of an imposing cliff. At the base of the cliff was the city, its fortified walls wrapped tight around hundreds of buildings. The houses clung to a steep slope which swept up from a busy harbour, towards the point where the gradient became almost vertical; the natural fortress this created was topped by walls of pale gleaming stone.
2. Certain characters are acting differently.
Irvana, my MC, isn't quite the nicey-nice and two-dimensional girl she used to be. There's more depth to her, we know more of what she's thinking and experiencing; that infamous psychic distance that is so hard to do but so brilliant when you get it right! Mind you, I'm not saying for one minute that I HAVE got it right, but it certainly feels more right than it did before.
Irvana stared at the rows of bottles stacked behind the bar, feeling stupid and small and fighting to contain the panic rising in her chest. Of course Matteuw would be an old man by now – just like Gwendara had been an old woman. Gwendara had died...was he dead too? Her one chance to discover more about her parents was slipping away, and Irvana realised just how much she had hoped to find Matteuw so that he could tell her all the things Gwendara never had. But more importantly, if she couldn’t find him, what on earth was she going to do?
He wasn’t here! Irvana stared at the rows of bottles stacked behind the bar, seeing none of them. Why wasn’t he here? She felt panic rising in her chest, tightening its hold on her lungs and making it hard to breathe. Was Matteuw old, older than Gramma? She’d died...was he dead too? Irvana gripped the bar tightly as her knees buckled, desperately trying to stay upright. Her one chance in the city, her opportunity to find out about her parents…gone. What was she going to do now?
Before, I'd have approached editing as a way of making the writing sound right...which isn't actually the same as making it sound how I'd probably say it if I was to tell you the story verbally. See - that's the voice thing coming through again. I can't really give you an example, except to say that in a week, I've edited 2/3rds of a 64,000 word manuscript without going back to tinker! Except for a last look-through in the 'read' layout; making the words look like a real book page does wonders for picking things up. I've even managed to sort out my 'm' and 'n' dashes and apostrophes, especially as one character in particular will keep dropping her aitches! (Also discovered that if you write h'er and delete the h afterwards, the apostrophe's the right way round and saves you having to copy and paste! Joy!)
So what now?
Part of my eagerness to get this edit done stems from the fact that there are several open submission months coming up for agents and indie presses...and I'm toying with the idea of sending StarMark out again. I know I said I wouldn't, but I want to see whether this version gets the 'too nice' response again.
The other reason is that publishing Granny Rainbow has given me the confidence to publish a full length novel as well. Sure, it could still crash and burn and folk might hate it. But having published once, I know I can do it again. Even if this time, there are different problems. I'm already toying with ideas for the cover...
So there you have it - a quiet week on the Scribbles, but not a quiet week for the Scribbler herself. And there's still 1/3 of the MS to go, so if I'm a bit quiet over the next week or so, at least you know why...