Sunday, 13 July 2008

The first of the first drafts

The whole family was down with sore throats and colds today. I was desperately trying to resolve a few final things with Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth so that I can send it off on Monday.

My books go through several stages once they have been assembled into a book-like entity. The very first stage is something that is in a constant state of flux, widening and contracting, bubbling up in one section and buttoning down in another. This is a kind of plate-spinning exercise - trying to keep all the component parts up and working and looking like a single creation.

This stage results in the first draft. Actually it is more like the pre-first draft, because it is a draft that will never leave my writing room. This draft is for me - a draft for me to see just how many problems I have shied away from resolving over the preceding months. It is a way of making those problems more tangible and that makes them easier to solve somehow.

I go through this draft making notes and then refer back to the copy on my hard drive and make another version. This draft is the real first draft, because it is the first I am willing to let anyone else see. This draft is read by my wife who is hopefully going to tell me if there is something that simply does not make sense and whilst she would feel awkward telling me something I had written was rubbish - she tells me a lot by what she chooses to pick out for praise. She is also very good at spotting spelling mistakes.

I then use these observations to go back and produce another draft - the first draft to leave the house. It is this draft - a draft that is hopefully true to the sense of what I want the book to be and as free from mistakes as I can make it - that will go to my publisher and agent. This draft is really the true start of the book as a book and not as a file on my computer.

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