• Better than you think

    25 November 2011

    I've been busy editing all 12 of the "Zom-B" books over the last few weeks. I've finished first drafts of all 12 books already, but I like to spread the editing process out over a few years, giving myself plenty of time to tweak and get each book exactly the way I want. This is the first time I've been able to read through all 12 books, one after the other -- it will also be the last, as I'm close to producing my final drafts of the first couple of books -- once I've done my final bit of work on those, I won't be returning to them. I've been reminded, editing so many books, of something that I can't stress enough to young writers -- YOUR FIRST DRAFT IS USUALLY BETTER THAN YOU THINK!!!


    I find writing the first draft of a book the hardest part of the writing process. It's also the most disheartening. When I'm in the middle of a first draft -- indeed, even when I've finished it -- I often think that a book is deeply flawed, that it isn't working, that I'll have to re-write it completely or even scrap it. The dialogue will seem stilted. I won't feel like it has rhythm. Sometimes I'll wonder why I ever started it in the first place. Then, I leave it for a few months, and when I return to it, a magical thing happens -- it gets better without me doing anything to it!! Of course nothing has actually changed when I return to a completed first draft -- except inside my head, and the way I respond to it. Having finished a first draft and given myself a good break from it, I can look at it more objectively, and what I find more often than not is that the book works far better than I feared. Sure, I'll have to go through it several time before it's ready to be published, tweaking and fine-tuning and sharpening-up. And yes, sometimes, I have to cut out a lot of passages, or re-write certain scenes, or fit in new scenes in certain places. But, generall speaking, the books are far more solid than they appeared to be when I was huffing and puffing my way through the first draft.


    As I say elsewhere in my Writing Tips, it's vital that you finish what you start. You won't really make great advances as a writer until you start completing first drafts. You never learn as much about story-telling as when you take a story all the way to its natural end. So it's important not to judge your first draft too harshly. Have faith in yourself and the story you're telling. Ignore the voice of doubt at the back of your mind, the niggling worries that it's no good, that you're wasting your time. Nobody gets it perfect first time round, and even established, experienced authors like me worry. It's natural to worry. Just don't let your worries put you off your stride. Keep pressing on, stick with it, and see it through to its end. Because what you'll almost always find when you look back is that your stories -- and you -- are usually a lot better than you might think they are!!!!

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