New book sitrep by Quentin Bates

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I’m sick of the sight of the book I’m working on at the moment. There, I’ve said it. I feel like I’ve admitted to hating my own child.

But it’ll pass. It’s just that I’m at the stage of this book’s life that for me is the most stressful part. The fun bit of actually writing the story to start with, all those possibilities and opportunities to screw with the characters’ heads, where all the invention and imagination are, is easily the best part of it all.

This time I’m fairly satisfied with the story. There are a couple of decent villains in there, some uncomfortable situations, a few ordinary people put into circumstances that call for desperate measures, plus my rotund heroine and her cohorts muddling through the whole lot.

Every writer works in his or her own way. Some meticulously plot and plan in advance, everything carefully set out in a spreadsheet with the entire plot laid out for the meat to be put onto the bones. Others just tap away and hope for the best without any particular plan in mind, just getting on with it and enjoying the surprises that each writing session brings.

I’m somewhere between the two, starting with a vague plan, a beginning and an idea of the end, plus a few waypoints that need to be touched on along the way. But I’m happy to depart from it when a new idea or a new direction appears, as they invariably do.

Getting swept away with the momentum of getting that first draft written leaves a bunch of plot conflicts, contradictions and continuity problems behind to be sorted out later. Well, now it’s later and all those problems are in the throes of being fixed.

How come that guy in chapter four was called Jón when by the time we get to chapter nine he’s become a woman called Sigga and has developed a limp? Did Gunnhildur know about the botched robbery the second villain was involved in back in chapter three? If so, how did she know? Was that car a blue Ford or a yellow Toyota?

I’ve now read through the manuscript half a dozen times and each time the plethora of red marks seems to get a little sparser.

Then my beta reader had a long, critical read and exhorted me to do better. That called for a few changes to the plot, a few thousand words to be dumped, a handful of new chapters and a whole load of additional minor headaches that need to be resolved.

By this time I’m getting sick of the sight of the whole thing and would gladly drop the whole lot in the bin. But it’ll pass. This is, I hope, the last big revision, unless anything serious pops up, but it’s all part of the fun.

The present swathe of red ink should be the last, and it should soon be in respectable enough shape for my editor to cast a gimlet eye over it. Then there’ll probably be more changes required. By then I’ll have had a much-needed break from the manuscript and would like to think that I’ll come back to it with fresh eyes by the time the copy-editor gets to grips with my words.

The problem is that there are a couple of other ideas bubbling away at the back of my mind that I’m carefully keeping there, right at the back where they won’t intrude on the work-in-progress.

But in the meantime, I have to get back to the last read-through. Oh, and I still have to think of a suitably chilly title.

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