Still working on Smoke & Mirrors. I’ve given it another read through this week after the wake-up call, which has led to me striking nearly 4000 words from it. I’m very happy about that. It’s now down to 90,000 words. There are some weeks where I feel that I’ve really learned something about the craft of writing. This has been one of them.
I’ve learnt that I don’t like adverbs and I should use them sparingly. I’ve learnt that the use of clichés should be a birching offence. (I think that to include them occasionally in dialogue is acceptable. People do use them in speech.) I’ve learnt that there isn’t anything much more distracting and irritating for me in a story than a cringe-worthy home-made simile. (Good ones are worth their weight in unicorn semen. But use sparingly.) I’ve learned to stop saying something and then saying it again differently. I’ve learned not to be so verbose. I’ve learnt not to tell so much. I’ve learnt that Hemingway was right when he said writing is rewriting. I’ve learnt that Elmore Leonard was right when he said if the author’s voice comes through get rid of it.
I’m not saying that my stories from now on will be free from all the above but I’ve learnt to recognise them better and the need to weed them out/do something about it when I do. I believe that is an important step towards becoming a better writer. (For those thinking: about time, Rome wasn’t built in a…oh crap – is that a cliche?)
I’ve enjoyed myself on this. I didn’t relish the prospect of taking the knife to the text again but as I was going along I found the removal of every word and phrase something satisfying.
The most important thing is that I am much happier about the book. I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating (some things are): my aim with every book I bring out is that each addition should contribute to the series. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, ever. And I don’t want to let myself or my characters down. That brings a certain pressure to bear. But then no one said being an attention seeking vanity publisher was going to without its challenges.
I am determined to have Acer #3 out before Christmas.