I am currently editing my next novel. The book has already been through a number of drafts and is now a weighty 90,000 words. Weighty because I have printed it off and the pile of paper is gratifyingly thick but also because the book is finally feeling substantial in content: the plot, the timelines, the research and the settings are, for the most part, worked out.
I have read through the printed pages twice: the first time, quickly, to get a feel for the atmosphere, the readability of the book. The second read-through was slower, more reflective. I was on the lookout for surfaces and shortcuts, for false notes and weak spots.
I am now putting those thoughts and addressing those questions directly onto the next draft on my laptop. This is the time when I can strengthen the core themes that shape the story and give myself over to the characters.
There is an intensity to this edit which is different to all the others. It feels both precarious and immersing. This novel is told from a single, male perspective – the father of a family in crisis. It’s hard to break away from the relationship I am building with him although work, family, day-to-day life frequently intervenes. It feels as if I keep getting up and leaving in the middle of a confidential conversation.