Apart from a final finishing off chapter, a sort of postscript, I have finished the first draft of my next novel; now I have the editing to do.
There are the obvious checking for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and peculiar punctuation (I’m an expert in all of these!) and then the more complicated, such as continuity, deleting bits where I (or my main character Thomas who is the narrator) have wandered off into the irrelevant (I blame Thomas), little bits of story line I started which led no-where or might be used in another story. I look for inconsistency, and whether the whole thing makes sense and will carry the reader along. This last one is crucial – even if the events in reality are preposterous, the writer should be able to carry the reader along and make sense of it within the fiction.
‘Earthquake’ is probably the most complex of Thomas’s investigations; It begins in what I hope will be a familiar and comfortable way for the reader, his wife asks him to research her family. Then a client rings him up with a most unusual and seemingly possible commission, to find out what happened at a small private boarding school nearly ninety years ago which resulted in the death of two young girls. A third commission is to do a bit of ghost hunting, an ex-partner asks him to investigate the apparent haunting of a small hotel she has just bought. Interwoven with this is a domestic family problem of his own which Thomas and his wife must come to grips with.
So… Thomas – and I – have worked our way through these different challenges, and all has been resolved, with, I hope an exciting ending – now I am worrying in case the ending seems too far-fetched? But that is the skill of the writer (I hope) to carry the reader along through what in real life would be impossible situations and events, and come through to a satisfactory conclusion.
The ninety year old mystery is a complex story; the way I write is usually just to start at the beginning and work my way through to the end with only a rough idea of where I am going. This might seem horrifying and really stupid to some writers, but for me, I feel that I can properly feel the confusion, surprise, bewilderment, thoughts, ideas, and course of action that my characters will take, just as in real life. We never know what is just around the corner, and nor does Thomas.
Now I have to check on the story lines of the girls from the school, check their names and dates, and relationships with each other, to make sure that when I changed things as the story progressed, the back story is complete and consistent – that, for example, someone’s name doesn’t get inadvertently swapped, that their family background doesn’t alter, and for these girls at school so long ago, that their friendship groups are constant, the ‘houses’ they are in are the same, and that looking back from the conclusion, there is a clear and unmuddled line back to the first event, the Earthquake which seemed to trigger all that followed.
If you haven’t read my other Thomas Radwinter books, or my other novels, here is a link:
My featured picture, by the way is our view over Hobart from our hotel room while we were in Tasmania…