Monday 18 March 2013

Oh, I'm tired, but it's (almost) done

Yesterday I finished my own edits on Head of Words. Roughly six hours of reading it over and over. I love that book but if I ever have to look at it again my eyes will explode.

I hadn't planned to give it another revision, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I can't understand these writers who finish a draft and shoot it straight out to an editor. I know a lot of people do, but what are they thinking? The less an editor has to do, the better. The less an editor has to do, the more of that book is mine. No one sees my books until I personally can't find a single blemish. Then I send it to someone who spots all the blemishes that my caffeine-soaked eyes missed. There are always a few...

What I was mostly doing in this revision was cutting. I hacked about 6000 words, bringing the book's final word count down to 98,400. Dan Barker has a habit of telling little anecdotes, and a couple of those didn't make it. I was also tightening the paragraphs, cutting unnecessary or repeated description, rewriting lines to make them flow better, looking at the rhythm of the paragraphs. It lost a few lines of description that I loved, but I think it's better for it.

Now it goes off to get a pro polish/clean up/proof. Then I'll go through it again to make the corrections and it'll go live. I'm still shooting for a late March/early April release.

And it'll be done. The odd little book I started writing in 2005 will finally be out in the world.

Unlike Tube Riders and Man Who Built the World, it wasn't dumped on from a great height by dozens of agents and publishers. From the moment I typed "THE END" I knew I'd never sell it unless I already had a name as a writer, so I just moved on to the next book and forgot about it. It's just too ... weird.

I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. On the one hand I love it because I went to places with plot and story that I'd never gone to before, and somehow or other I made it out the other side. On the other hand, I always felt it would struggle in the marketplace because it's a confusing book that requires the reader to suspend a lot of belief and also to look back on the book when they're done and see how everything fit together. There's a twist - well, two twists - which aren't really twists at all, because what happens is not really designed to be a big secret. The reader is actually supposed to know what's going on before the main character does, however, I'm expecting lots of reviewers to be like "well, I saw that twist coming", which you're kind of supposed to. You want a twist of mine you wont spot - go read Death Depends. You WON'T pick it. I guarantee it.

In short, while I'm proud of Head of Words as a novel and proud of myself for pushing my own boundaries with it, I think it will disappoint some readers. Fans of Tube Riders or Man Who Built the World (and yes, it seems like there are one or two! :-) ) will find it a hard read because it's nothing like either. The content is also a little nasty in places. There's a lot of recreational drug use, prostitution, violence, and tons of swearing (mind you, I just started reading JK Rowling's Casual Vacancy, and if she can drop a c-bomb in chapter 2 then anyone can ...). It might actually gain me more readers, but we'll see. I like to think I'm developing a small but loyal fanbase who've come to expect the unexpected. There will be more Tube Riders books, I promise you (#2 Exile is done, and #3 Revenge is being planned). However, beyond that, who knows? :-) I'll write whatever storyline punches me in the face the hardest, and I'm taking a lot of hits at the moment...

So, I really need to stop waxing lyrical here and get back to it, because I have a ton more books to write.

Chris Ward
March 19th 2013

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