Writers\' Forum - 04.2020

(Darren Dugan) #1
when it certainly wasn’t!) I’d developed a
strategy one of my students coined ‘Mind
the Gap’. Every time I get stuck I just write
to myself in capitals what might need to
go in and skip ahead. I focus on getting
to the end of the story, leaving spaces if I
don’t know how to reach the next bit and
hopping on to a scene I do know about.
Some authors get the whole thing down
and then go back to correct, change,
rewrite and edit. I tend to polish, edit and
rewrite as I go along. Each day I’ll re-read
what I’ve written the time before and
polish that up before I continue. Then,
when I get to the end, I go back with a iner
toothcomb and tweak, embellish, ill in the
odd gap, maybe do some tightening and
give it a inal hone and polish.
It was then that I realised The Big Five-O
was a bit short. When a novel is too long
it’s easier to cut. I know because when
I inished the manuscript of Mum in the
Middle I had to drastically rewrite it to it
in with what the editor wanted (she was
right!) and then I had to cut a whopping
23,000 words from the inished product.
Interestingly, I did this and nothing
appeared to be missing plot-wise. It was
a very illuminating exercise and the
whole experience/nightmare made me
determined not to waste words in future.
A ny way, The Big Five-O was too short
and I needed a solution. Padding it out
was no good. Another plotline might do
it. I soon dismissed both of those ideas.
Instead, I went through it all and made
sure I’d properly covered what my agent
Teresa gets very fearsome about - the six
senses. Had I properly described what
everything looked like, smelled like,
sounded like?
I also looked for any places where I
hadn’t covered what the characters were
feeling. It’s easy to concentrate on what
they are doing and forget feelings. I also
checked I’d explained motivations for
certain behaviours. Sometimes I dropped
in a bit more backstory.
Another 5000 words were added like
that, then my editor wanted me to write
out a couple of scenes in detail instead
of just referring to them in the past. For
example, Sherie goes on a date and, in
the irst draft, I show the reader the very
beginning of it and them getting a taxi
home later and then cut to Sherie thinking
about it the next morning. In the inal
version that date is described in more
detail at the time, with some of their
conversation etc.
So, to recap, The Big Five-O was the
easiest book I’ve written by far and well
worth the time spent planning. I’ll write
any other books in exactly the same way.

It’s easy to


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