Our Kind of Bastard has had its beta readings (or possibly alpha readings; the terminology is beyond me) and the feedback is in. There is much work to be done. There are flaws with just about every single aspect of the novel: its characters, plot, dialogue, setting – all need work.
But it’s not all bad. There is a good story hiding in there. It just needs more. More backstory, more development, more atmosphere, more time spent on characters. Just more.
Aside from the bits that need less, of course. Fewer distracting digressions and parenthesised asides.
Writing is a tricky business, and this is perhaps the hardest thing to drag yourself to: to take a work out of the ‘completed’ siding of the mind and disassemble the train, adding in new coaches, new trucks, repainting and getting it ready to run the Submissions Express.
Except that, as a sequel, this train is going nowhere for some time yet, even should it be made all gleaming-squeaky clean.
The work must still be done, however.
Getting feedback is perhaps the hardest – and most necessary part of writing a novel. The mental adjustment involved in hacking off the first two chapters, for example, or removing a character, or simply adding in a scene, is out of proportion to the actual work involved. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it can be a whole lot of chopping, of typing, of tying together. But the mental effort involved – not in simply coming up with new ideas but with cracking open a ‘perfect’ capsule of a novel and rearranging the innards – far outweighs that. To me at least.
So I gird my loins and put the kettle on, select the writing music of choice, and get down to it. This thing ain’t gonna write itself.