Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Interlude: We've Got an Elephant!

Some writers seem to understand shape at some preconscious level. It’s in their damn DNA, it’s so deep. Ian Rankin talks quite openly about being his detective in first drafts – he has no idea where the story is going; he discovers things at the same time as Rebus. But the result is shapely and satisfying nonetheless.

Me? Most days it feels like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

At its worst, it feels like if I can screw up the structure of a story, I will. To use an analogy: I’ll pitch a beautifully sculpted elephant, then deliver a camel and a heartfelt apology. And my editors have to patiently unpick it all. (Thought about taking those humps off? What about adding a trunk? Plus – just asking Fletch – can we bulk this baby out a bit?)

Eventually, it looks sorta elephantine. But it’s miles away from the thing I first conceived.

Imagine my relief, then, when I saw this:

Thank you, Maureen McHugh. Thank you Austin Kleon. And most of all, a massive thank you to my editors. We’ve got an elephant at last.