Thursday, 15 January 2015

Marinating Your MS Can Drive You Mad...But It's Worth It!

It's been thirteen days.
Thirteen long days.
And I'm going mad.

Has there ever been a better portrayal of complete madness than
Dwight Frye as Renfield in the 1931 Universal production of

I am absolutely dying to get stuck into Project X but I have another twelve days to go in the marination process.

This is good stuff, though. All is going to plan.

I have forgotten why I wrote the book. 
I have forgotten all the characters. 
The plot is blurry, the sequence of events mangled and mixed and bollocks knows what I did at the end! 

Should I be worried?


Because in two weeks time I'm going to pour myself a very large whisky, light a (metaphorical) Monte Cristo, settle back on the sofa and read the first draft from the point of view of a reader.

At the end, if its good, I'll carry on working for a maximum of two weeks, probably not even that. Then I'll start post production - proofing/editing, cover, acknowledgments, marketing plan and registering the MS with a solicitor.

At the end, on Sunday evening before I retire to my sauna (bad back, you know, old war wound); if its a bad read, I'll bin it. 

I'm not going to rewrite a bad idea. I don't even know what a third draft or a fourth draft is. 

Old school writers in the days of longhand novels and arthritis-inducing typewriters felt compelled to preserve and salvage most of their work because of the sheer back-breaking graft they put into it. 

Modern writers armed with a word processor can find it just as easy to start a new novel as they would dredging through an unsatisfactory whole for the workable segments. 

That's what I do. 

I have four part-written first drafts somewhere lurking  in my 2003 tower which are, quite frankly, not worth asking anyone to read. 

And they started off so promisingly too!

If you're pumping out rubbish you are not happy with just because you've spent three months on a first draft and you may as well put it out there, because it is free, innit, then you're contributing to the unfortunate situation in which we find ourselves, where there are too many novels on the market and too few people prepared to read them.

The vast open air bazaar at Marrakesh

So. Your first draft is critical and it's the reader in you that needs to be satisfied, not the scribbler.

That's not so say I won't add stuff, and/or polish it.  As I wander about waiting for the January Blues to pass and the month to speed by, I keep coming up with riffs and digressions and subplots and addendums and patterns and loads more new stuff.  

Bits that really shouldn't have ANY business being in a first draft, which, if you were a boxer, should be your heaviest punch, the one that floors the opponent. Not the most stylish punch, not the most trained or orchestrated, not the most cunning or shrewd, but the most solid. The one you remember.

Frank Bruno wobbles the unbeatable beast that was
Mike Tyson in 1989

Next week: The Wizard's Cauldron returns from a break with a romance double bill featuring the wonderful Kennedy Ryan and the following week, the name on everyone's lips, Tracie Bannister.

Then on the first of February, I'll finish off the marinade.


The Reader of Novels, by Antoine Weirtz.


  1. Great thoughts, as usual, Wiz. There's a sense of excitement that takes place when a writer re-reads their work after they've let the project sit for a while, and a completed draft that a writer revisits with fresh eyes can sharpen and enhance that awareness, as well as point out glaring ugly strokes of pure junk that need fixing, hehehe. Enjoy the whiskey, Wiz xx :)

  2. Missed this one!! Excellent stuff Wiz :-) And now here we are nearly at publication day...