I finished first round edits last week. The new novel is a crime thriller set in Dublin but, you know, because it’s my baby, I’ll say it’s much more than that. This is the novel I worked on a year ago during NaNoWriMo. A novel that I almost left on my hard-drive without submitting. But the characters kept pulling me back and I couldn’t leave the manuscript alone.
I’d always wanted to write a thriller. I guess years studying anatomy, physiology, dealing with the psychology of pain and the fear of pain meant suddenly the crime thriller genre seemed a good fit. But still, even though I’d written the guts of the novel that November and an ending was beginning to reveal itself, I stalled for a long time. Fear can hide in many places, even in excitement. I guess I was nervous, anxious that I’d chosen the wrong perspective to write from and a knowledge that this novel was different from anything I’d written before. It was darker, the writing tighter and man was I in a strange place creatively when I wrote it.
In 2015, I resolved to dig much deeper with my craft, to push myself and I knew this novel was a result of that intention. At the same time, I enjoyed the fact that it was different, that not many knew I was working on it and that in effect removed any pressure. It allowed me to play with narrative more, be braver with my subject matter and challenge my ideas, take them a step further and then further still. In short, I’m so grateful to whatever entity drops ideas into writers’ heads, as this novel has tested and rewarded me in many ways.
This weekend, I’ve been working through some minor changes and although at times, editing can be tough (that’s how you know you’re doing it right!), it’s still massively enjoyable to work inside this story.
Here are some of the places editing has taken me this week: knowing that law enforcement is ruled by procedure, or should be, I’ve had to double check a few processes and devices used in the novel. So, I got me talking to a Detective who deals with serious crime. Even though I had a good sense of how interviews are carried out in real life, it was great to have some professional terms to bandy about. The terms haven’t made it into the current draft but it was so interesting to hear how structured the process is, when and where those arrested can ask for a lawyer, the processes of arrest, remand, pre-trials and trials. Sometimes, a writer spends many hours researching detail that never makes it into the finished draft. But for these scenes to feel real to the reader, the writer needs to paint over and around the subject matter with the same confidence their characters would, hence the full immersion in research. However, we do have to be careful not to distract the reader with showy-off tidbits and unnecessary detail just so we can show we’ve done our homework. On that note, back to the writing board I go…
Happy Reading and Writing!