Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Writing Update


Okay, that’s sorted. Before Christmas I received the version of Jupiter War, edited by Peter Lavery, along with some helpful structural/character notes from Bella Pagan. Peter was the editorial director of Pan Macmillan and Tor who originally took me on. He’s now retired from Macmillan, but continues doing what he loves, which is using his scary pencil to puncture inflated writer’s egos, while Bella is a senior commissioning editor for Tor/Pan.

Peter’s editing I am accustomed to. It is generally along the lines of ‘this is a clearer way of expressing what you want’. He also picks up on repetitions and grammatical errors, selects out sections he designates ‘unnecessary?’, and returns a typescript in which I never find a page lacking corrections. After I’ve gone through his stuff the word count has usually increased by a few thousand words. But I have to add that what I take on board is completely down to me. When, many years ago now, he first returned the typescript of Gridlinked with pencilled-in corrections, he also sent an eraser – my choice.

Bella’s notes I looked at with a slight sinking sensation in my gut because structural changes can be sticky, and a simple note concerning the behaviour of a character can involve checking the same throughout the entire book. However, I’m well aware of the danger of authorial arrogance. An established author can think he knows best and the result of that can be big fat books full of boring waffle. I therefore took the bit between my teeth and dived in. She was right, of course, and I made many of the changes she suggested.

Now it’s time to get back to Penny Royal. I was on book three before Christmas but have now gone back to read through from the start of book one, correcting and altering along the way. I need to add some stuff concerning a black hole, I’m considering shifting two sections at the start of book one to the beginnings of the ensuing two books, but mostly I need to sink myself back into the whole thing and remind myself where I was at. Having gone this route before, I know that I won’t read all the way through. At some point, within the next few days, I’ll get bored with that and leap ahead to start writing afresh. That’s all for now.

6 comments:

Unknown said...

I do appreciate your willingness to
disclose the gritty kitchen details
of the novelists craft, a reminder
that books aren't magically conjured
out of the air but constructed with
the kind of care taken by a Swiss
watchmaker.

daniel ware said...

as my previous comment seems to have disappeared?!

Glad to see peter's still going strong (though it's not really retirement if you carry in doing your old job!) - he is a decent fellow :-)

Looking ever more forward to your next books, though i expect I'll be onto e-books by then...

Neal Asher said...

Unknown, that would include die-casting, forging and generally forming the components out of bar stock first.

I don't know why your previous comment disappeared, Daniel. Was it the same? Anyway, for Peter it was retirement from commuting, office politics and endless strategy meetings.

Paul said...

Hmm.. So how many books are you working on that have not been released? I can't wait to read all this new material. I'm hooked.

Neal Asher said...

I'm working on three that haven't been released yet, Paul.

daniel ware said...

More or less, neal!

Ah, meetings: bastion of the incompetent, frightened-to-make-a-decision, technically incompetent, self-serving management types - he's much better off now then!