Question: Whose favourite expression is “I’ve been disappeared”?
Answer: The main character in my novel, Anna.
Next question: Why am I quoting him (yes, “him” not “her”)?
Answer: Because I have been disappeared, editing onward to THE END.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the work is over. Far from it. This Speculative Fiction novel of mine evolved out of a decision to stop second guessing the market and write something original. I even dared swim against the tide with a non-dystopian version of the future. Yes, the human race is threatened; no, the planet is not trashed beyond repair.
The project began on 1st January, 2013: what better New Year’s Resolution than a creative challenge? You can read a summary of my progress during that year here.
The next step was to throw my novel upon the mercy of three beta readers: themselves published, and one of them a freelance editor. Their verdict … beautiful prose, original, a few plot holes needing mending, too abstruse in places in an effort to avoid exposition, more dialogue tags needed, and greater differentiation required between character voices.
Back to the drawing board for four months, with the occasional cry of “not another thing to do!”. I admit to having felt annoyed with my beta readers at times, but that was because their constructive criticism was about 90% right. Of course, I’m eternally grateful to them for all the work they put into their detailed reports on my manuscript, considering they have such busy lives themselves and did it voluntarily in their spare time. Ultimately, I decided that if all three of them pointed out the same thing, then it needed attention.
It’s unusual for a second draft to end up longer than the first (62K words, grown to 90K), but I went for minimalism initially and then had to build on this. I did edit some things out, just because they didn’t fit with the characters’ voices as they developed. There was a degree of juggling around chapters, putting some back story into real-time and, where this was impossible, turning back story into proper flashbacks.
This next week, I intend to print out my manuscript and check the plot hangs together after all the changes I’ve made. At the same time, I will do a full proof read as it’s so easy to miss mistakes when checking work on the computer screen.
Just as a closing bit of fun, does anyone remember that tagging game named Lucky Seven Time that did the rounds of WordPress a while back, where you had to post an extract from page 7 or page 77 of your work in progress? Having just looked back at my Lucky Seven post, I thought it would be interesting to compare my page 7 extract from then with a page 7 extract from my present version of the manuscript.
15th February 2013 version
“You’ve gone insane.”
“No, it’s you who’s insane for bringing me fish?”
You scowl up at the sky, as if there’s a cruel memory pinned to the stars. I look up. There are no stars. Only the face of a mother—the last mother on earth to have given birth. Your mother.
“She’s dead,” I remind you.
“She lied to me.”
“Oh, Anna, I can’t bear it. You’ll have to wear a hat until your hair’s grown back.”
We’re both spurting tears as Ka moves between hugging me close, pushing me away with the flat of her hand, or poking at me with a finger. I wonder whether it’s my bones or hers that will snap first. My arm bleeds, where she’s jabbed me with the scissors whilst wrestling them off me. I think I’ve cut her, too. Our blood and tears are smeared together.
“I love you, Ka, I love you. I really love you.” These words spill from my lips while I’m thinking, I hate you, Ka. I really hate you.