The End wasn’t really the end, of course. After I finished I went back to the beginning and began editing my book chapter by chapter. Yesterday I got to the end, again.
You can break down the changes I was making into three broad categories:
- Plot holes
The dialogue changes tended to be shortening the interplay between different characters. When I was writing my original drafts there was a lot of switching between different characters, sometimes just to interject a word or two. I think this reflects most naturally how people talk, but the problem with this approach is that even the most realistic fiction isn’t an absolutely accurate portrayal of human life. This is because much of our lives are repetitive and would be dull to read about over and over again. Even rock stars have to brush their teeth and shower, occasionally.
Fiction is life with the dull bits left out – Clive James
So out went the ‘I means’, ‘you knows’ and so on, and in came more structured dialogue.
The ins and outs of the plot have changed on many occasions since I first sat down to write it. This meant it was important for me to go through the book to make sure everything added up and there were no plot holes. For example:
- If a character is threatened with prison, for how long would he be behind bars?
- How exactly does Dust, the app that is at the centre of the book, work?
- Do the characters’ ages match up with the time frame of the plot’s unfolding?
On that last point, it was very helpful to write a timeline, which I’ll go into more detail about in a later post.
Finally there were stylistic changes I felt I needed to make. Sometimes I would go over what I’d written and cringe at how pretentious or badly-written certain passages sounded in my head a second time. I hope this doesn’t happen (too much) with my second review. One of my goals with this book was to make it readable. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of over-writing. Perhaps it’s the journalist in me, but I was never a fan of flowery writing just for the sake of it. Hopefully reading it won’t send you to the dictionary or have you thinking I’ve set out to write War and Peace II.