My new novel* found it’s birth in late spring days in French Languedoc when there were still wild flowers on the byways and the riverbanks. By eleven o’clock in the old town of Agde the deep shadows of the tall buildings offered relief from the sun climbing to its mid-day zenith.
And out of this heat, out of these shadows, out of time, came my story.
So now here at home it’s my delight to escape our dark northern November and re-enter that Southern world of bright light and deep shade, of an old world and a new one, as I hammer away at the final draft of my new novel.
I’m often asked how many drafts a novel goes through: a question hard to answer in these technological days.
There is the handwritten draft, then the transcription draft, when the novel really evolves. After that there may be all kinds of changes as I go through the story again and again. This may involve shipping around chapters and paragraphs to tighten the structure, adjusting events to meet to the internal logic of the story, taking out characters, putting new ones in their place, replacing prose with dialogue to increase the pace, replacing dialogue with prose to render some reassuring distance and clarity for the reader. (How much one thinks of the reader in these final drafts!)
How many drafts? Three? Ten? hard to tell in these days when redrafting is mostly done on the computer and does not involve painful retyping at each stage much recourse to SnoPake. My modern way might involve four printed off copies to see how the changes work on the page but these are the result of eight or ten ‘redrafts’ on the screen.
The first drafts involve great inspiration and intuitive story- making, along with the creative melding of research into a real but invented world. But these last drafts are intricate, detailed exercises in both the writer’s and editor’s craft to make sure my readers ‘get’ my idea and enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
* I have at last found a title, but as yet it is a secret…