Inside the Fiction Factory – Part 24

Second Draft – Completed

The last third of the second draft of The Kill Switch has gone well. I’ve finished up in good time and I’m all set for draft three during December. Draft three is my favourite of the process. This is where I have the knowledge the plot is sound, the structure works and there is nothing major to work out and finish. I should say this knowledge is all from my perspective. By the time this is passed to an editor, they may have a different take on it. For now though, I’m confident I have something solid to work with and have to trust my instincts that I’m good to continue with progress.

I will work through each chapter in order and not move on to the next until I’m satisfied it is readable. I will be adding in extra sentences while correcting what is already there, and looking for stock phrases I use and changing or deleting them. I have a list of common words and expressions I use while drafting. This has been compiled from many drafts over several years. I have no problem with using stock phrases when writing at speed and concentrating on the story. Draft three sees these repetitions removed, spending time to come up with something more suitable. So I will keep a running total of how many nods and shrugs, smiles and frowns and watch them reduce into single figures by the time I reach the end of the draft. My list includes dozens of words that I use when drafting and I’ve come to recognise them through practice and now take great delight in replacing them with something that doesn’t distract from the story. Any spelling or grammar issues will also be addressed to the best of my ability. The aim is to end up with a draft that I will be happy for others to read and comment back on.

I don’t use an advance reader group, mainly because I don’t know anyone interested enough and with the time to assist with this. I am very reclusive in this respect, and I admit I have not pursued looking into this further. I’ve written enough to know when I feel I’m doing okay, and trust my instincts to continue. The idea of giving out early drafts for comments I think would end up derailing me, leaving me to worry over if I take the feedback onboard or simply ignore, and I don’t need that pressure. I work fulltime, and I use what time I have outside work to write. As a rule I don’t read other people’s work and comment back, with one exception. I know a writer I can call on to read through and give me an honest opinion on what they think which is invaluable. I have also read advance copies of some of their novels. So it’s not that I’m against the idea of honest feedback at this point in the process. I’m sure advance reader groups are a big help to many. I just don’t see it working for me.

I check on the cliff-hanger endings of each chapter, and make sure I have something in the last sentence that will make the reader want to start the next chapter. This is important to me. I think my style lends itself to this. It’s what I like as a reader, so I try to do the same for my own readers.

As The Kill Switch is a cybercrime thriller, I’m making sure where I use technology, it’s described in an understandable way for all. A great deal of effort was put into The Kill Chain in this respect and the feedback I have since received from readers confirms the effort in doing so was spot on. Many have said they were worried it would be too complicated or go over their heads, and were delighted to realise they could understand and appreciate what is going on. Cybersecurity is a complex subject. I hope I am making it more accessible to all.

Draft three will hopefully be completed in December, though this is a challenging month in respect of writing schedules and habits. I do take holidays. I enjoy time off, though I never stop what I refer to as thinking like a writer. That’s a good topic for a future blog post.

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