The Editorium Strikes Back!

I’m deep in the middle of copy-edits at the moment. It is a doom-filled process and one I intend to write more about when I’m not too damn busy doing.

So in the meantime please enjoy these pictures of the all-new singing and dancing Editorium! A room of one’s very own (apart from all the family stuff that’s temporarily – he hopes – dumped in here for the interim) that actually has a view. I’ve spent the rest of my writing life staring at a wall; now I merely have to turn my head slightly to the left and I see fields! And trees. And a big, big sky.


Typically I’ve waited until the heatwave has ended before taking my photographs. That’s just how I roll.

The most wonderful thing about this space is that I can cocoon myself in books. How wonderful, how warming, to be surrounded by some of my very best friends.


The obligatory shelfie

My actual writing-desk is a hideous mess at the moment. I’d like to say that it is a work-in-progress, which is true. I suspect, though, that there’s always going to be debris scattered all over. The more mess changes the more it stays the same.


Besides, I like a little mess. This is a work-space, not an Ideal Home installation.

Now I’m off to get back to my edits. Hopefully I’ll have a more enlightening post for you next week.

Happy writing.


Beyond the Editorium

Editorium End

The lambuscript and scene-by-scene guide all scribbled-upon and ready to be encomputerised

Update time: I’ve just finishing my first read-through of my first draft of Oneiromancer. For those new to this blog, don’t worry if that means nothing to you. I’ve not posted that much about the actual story, and I’m not going to start here. There’s plenty of work still to be done, and plenty of chance to snare you into my world of visions and wonder.

The read-through, all cosy in my Editorium, has been fun. The slog of the first draft, the puzzle-box devising, the tormenting of my characters and their individual journeys, is over. There is a sense that the hard work is done, although (if experience is any guide) that’s almost certainly untrue. I’m sure my beta-readers, when this finally goes out to them, will request extra bits in the most inconvenient way possible. They will demand I excise whole sections that contain crucial information that must be retained somewhere, somehow. And I will swear.

Back to this run-through. Let’s start by saying what the second draft not: it’s not going through and correcting spelling and improving prose. That’s what I used to think. When I first started writing seriously I thought that editing was improving the writing and killing typos. Now I know I was wrong. The most important thing here is to fix the plot. Sure, as I read through I’m keeping an eye out for base errors, for poor dialogue or clumsy (or simply second-best) prose; I’m incapable of not looking for things like this. But at this stage plot is paramount.

Sometimes you have to write things to work out in your mind where you need to go. This is where the famous soggy middle comes from, I think. Sometimes you can almost hear the author thinking ‘right, where do I need to go from here? How do we get there?’ These passages need to be written: they’re the author’s way of finding the path. But they have no place in the finished novel. Cut – cut cut cut. But in every excision there’s a small piece of information that needs inserting, or a particularly revealing snatch of conversation, so it’s not just a case of going through the text with a pair of scissors.

Then there are all the changes that the characters have been through. Of course you want them to end as slightly different people (in some cases they’ve changed from ‘alive’ to ‘metabolically challenged’) as they live through the novel. But sometimes their base identity changes: your heroes, you realise, are better slightly older, or younger, than you originally had them. Maybe you realise that the childhood trauma you gave them isn’t the right foundation upon which to hang their neuroses. The second draft is the place to go through and fix all these errors-that-aren’t-really-errors; to adjust initial descriptions, to foreshadow later shocks and to take the deus from the machina.

It is a twofold process. The first half is spent with the manuscript and a pen and copious ad-hoccery. That’s what I’ve now completed. The second half is spent on the computer actually entering in the changes and will take a lot longer. This is because most of my notes are either illegible or run along the lines of ‘insert new scene: ref. Jazz – she’s been to a club/gig (too young?)’ thus leaving almost of the work to Future Rob. I’ve been highlighting work to do rather than actually doing it. Past Rob is right pain in the backside, as anyone who knows him will testify.

So this next pass will take much longer. It will combine small, local improvements (the ‘writing’) and larger situational changes. Locations may change. Characters certainly will. I have at least two new scenes to write and a half-dozen to delete. Then and only then will the novel go out for reading by people other than me. I’m aiming at the end of February for that particular milestone. But don’t worry, lovely bloggites. Whether you care or not, you will be kept informed.

Happy writing.

The Editorium

Welcome to the Editorium. I shall be locked her from now until Oneiromancer is transformed into a beautiful nightmare, slaving beneath hellish lights and the whip-hand of dark dominatrices. Please – allow me to show you around…

Editorium 1d

1. The manuscript

The sacrificial lambuscript itself: ready to be carved open, torn apart and generally disrespected. Double-sided for the saving of paper (although the printer took its customary tithe) but double-spaced text for the insertion of scribbles

2. Scene-by-scene breakdown

My own guide to what happens in each scene, to whom, why, and with a note of anything I might otherwise forget. This is my big-picture guide, the context-setter; also to be scribbled on (to the max) as I contemplate whether even a single scene is worth putting in the final novel

3. Notes

The companion document to item 2, this is simply a spreadsheet-list of all the ideas and thoughts that I had whilst first-drafting. It’s a miscellany of consequences; things to foreshadow or forget. Good ideas, bad ideas; things that occurred to me in the white-hot moment of creation and then erased from memory. A list of questions to answer or obliterate

4. Pen

It should be red. It’s not. It should be proper ink – a fountain-pen for preference. It’s just a cheap black biro. But it writes well. The ink flows and doesn’t make me swear. That’s all I need. I had to throw out two others before I found this (I’m a compulsive pen-hoarder/thief)

5. Feedback

A few scenes have already been road-tested by the legion of doom – my writing group. These are my sample pages, lovingly scribbled upon and deconstructed by my colleagues. I’ll go through them as I get to each scene in question

6. Notelets

For the making of notes. I’m not quite sure why I need these, but I have them and I’m sure they’ll come in handy at some point

7. Character list

Every named character in the novel is in these pages. Some are simply a name; others have a history, a description, and even a personality. I’m keeping the notes on hand to aid in my consistency as I have a habit of recycling minor characters; sometimes they reappear hundreds of pages apart and I can never remember how I described them previously. It also helps me track changes I’ve made through their development

8. Light

The Editorium is not the dark and dingy lair it appears here. Light is important. No point squinting to read your own indecipherables. So I have the lamp that is half-visible in this photo as well as the main room-lamp and many windows. I just took this photo on a particularly dark and dingy morning

9. Mythos

Another list of notes. This one is on the world I’ve created; a little background on how it differs from the real world; aesthetics, structure, monsters real and imagined. Like all the other print-outs, this is a working document. I want a hard copy partly for ease of use but also so I can deface and add and grow the story. Although I don’t need to know every little detail of the world I’ve built I need it all to be consistent; I have to be able to create new details that work within the existing framework. Hence this. Another place to store ideas and to build coherence

10. Coffee

Because coffee

Not pictured:

11. Comfy chair

Because backache is not a writer’s friend

12. Accommodating (and most lovely) Wife

Vital for the retention of testicles when it’s realised that not only have you ‘appropriated’ the dining table for an unspecified period, but you’ve suddenly grown enormously possessive of it and will permit no foreign object to rest upon its surface. A good support network is crucial. So is having all your organs where they belong