Madeleine Marsh



Yesterday I printed out the first draft edit of the second book, The Art of Necro-Gastronomy. It started me thinking about the process I went through to write and edit The House at the End of the World and how I’ve changed that process for this new book.

Both manuscripts are products of NaNoWriMo, so both were in about the same state when I first picked them up: missing bits, contradictory timelines, hurried endings. Art had too many characters and a whole section that after a useful chat with Hubby has now been mercilessly chopped out and left on the cutting room floor. It was that major change that has enabled me to re-write the entire second half of the book and get it to a place where the whole narrative at least makes sense. Now for the many edits that will eventually – at the end of October – end in me having a draft I'm happy to hand off to my two beta readers before the start of this year's NaNoWriMo.

Last year I started the edit of House at the end of the summer. Edits involved my laptop and two iPads, many slim Moleskin notebooks and a pile of empty gel pens. I wrote in coffee shops, restaurants, in the car, at home, anywhere I could grab a spare hour. Almost every word was rewritten at some point between September and January. The opening paragraph was rewritten at least twice a week and I even ran it by an opening paragraph expert. Characters were developed, the landlord was born. A lot of explicit sex was removed! My wonderful beta readers returned their edits and more repetition and exposition was ripped out, replaced with tweaks that came to me at random. At that stage, the book was all my brain had room to process and the muse (the creative part of my mind that writes) was trying to punch its way out through my eyeballs with frustration.

In January, I read through the book noting down everything that happened, all the information that was revealed page by page and sorted out (hopefully) any continuity errors. After that, my third beta reader checked it for Americanisms vs. Briticisms, spelling errors, grammar guffaws. I put every hyphenated and capitalised word into Google to check for accurate usage.

Art will go through the same intense editing and scrutiny. The draft that goes to my beta readers in October will in no way resemble the draft I have printed out and sitting in a red ring binder in front of me with a refillable gel pen this time around. The final book will be very different to the version they read. But this is how the book matures, grows and becomes something I hope people will actually want to read.

Last updated: 2013-08-25 13:02:27

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