June 2023 Archive

Progress Report June ’23

The big news over the last couple of months is that there’s a film adaptation of Best Served Cold in the works. Not much more I can say at this stage. It’s in the casting and scouting phase and the script has been revised and rewritten about a million times. Doubtless it will need to be revised and rewritten many more times in response to actor’s notes and scouting and design work and so on, but the writing part of it at any rate is frozen (along with all other film and tv writing work) while the WGA strike is going on.

Still, that has meant I’ve had a couple of months to focus pretty much exclusively on The Devils, which is timely as I just finished a loose first draft at the end of April and had the first round of general editorial notes back from my UK and US editors. The book’s had a bit of a scattered gestation over the last couple of years what with work on the film and other things, so it’s actually quite welcome to focus on it exclusively for a while and try and properly get my head around it, take in my editor’s notes and the feelings of beta readers and put a plan into action that’s gonna get me to a solid second draft (by which I mean one which is consistent start to finish and has the right major plot movements in the right places).

I’ve now made one thorough pass through the whole thing, added three or four new scenes and did some heavy rewriting, cut down some of the sprawling and self-indulgent action scenes a bit and generally tidied up, plus rewrote a few scenes towards the end to get a bit more punch out of them. I usually hate books while I’m writing a first draft, and start to like them while I’m doing the second, and this book’s no exception. It’s the part of the process I most enjoy, in general. With some books one pass has been enough to get things to a decent second draft (specially true of later books in trilogies where you’ve already set things up somewhat and worked out who the characters are), but with this one I’m gonna need to do at least one more. Often as I write a first draft I get closer and closer to what I want, so the last part doesn’t need an awful lot of work, and the second draft is mostly a matter of bringing earlier parts into line with the final one. This time around, though, a lot of the big changes I made were at the end, and rewrites there are gonna need some seeding and setting up throughout.

My current plan, therefore, is to spend July doing another pass through the whole book with an eye on some specific plot stuff I need to tweak and develop, then August looking at each point of view character in turn, working on the voices, trying to give them each an effective arc within the whole, and set stuff up that can pay off later. Some of the characters are mostly there already, but a couple need to be worked on a bit more to feel distinct.

Then it’s into the more detailed and specific rounds of revision – more editorial notes, a pass looking at dialogue and behaviour, a pass looking at setting, line edit (where editors make detailed comments on the text), and a pass on the detail of the language. That’s sept-dec, with the hope of getting the whole thing finished (or at least nearly finished) by year end. Of course the hope is that the WGA strike will be resolved long before that, and I’ll therefore be putting unknown amounts of time into rewriting Best Served Cold, but that all remains to be seen…

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