Sunday, 3 January 2021

Editing a novel

I've learned about the writer's craft.
Long finished was the early draft.
It's been some months since last I read it.
The time has come to do the edit.

"Be ruthless" is the key advice.
"Prune that script and don't think twice."
I thus embark upon this chore.
The mantra must be "less is more".

The mental scissors, sharp and sturdy,
Snip away the over-wordy.
They trim out all that smack of "tell".
The adverbs disappear as well.

The key thing is but one refrain:
"Cut, and cut, then cut again."
Those parts that don't move on the plot
Are banished, as they're needed not.

The clues...the hints...have been curtailed,
Those scattered crumbs just faintly trailed.
Irrelevancies, too, have gone.

The finished work reads "twice upon".

A review of an unnamed novel *****

The first stroke of genius is surely the plain cover, which gives away nothing of what's to come. And what's to come is minimalist writing at its finest. Take the unconventionally uncapitlaised word "twice". This instantly intrigues. In common with the more familiar "once", we are inexorably lured into asking "when?". In the past? In the future? Or that ever present bridge in the time spectrum of "now"? But, more pertinently, why twice? Why not thrice or often? The preposition "upon" also intrigues. Upon what? Surely nothing as mundane as a sofa!

The succinct plot leaves everything to the imagination. Who, exactly, are the characters? Can our first impressions of them be trusted, or will they transmute? Indeed, is anything quite as it seems? The potential for twists and turns is infinite, and the denouement is everything the discerning reader could possibly ask for.

This unusual novel is sure to have you turning every one of its 376 blank pages in your desperate need to find the answers to the many fascinating conundrums it presents.

1 comment:

  1. The ad agency employees who form the collective narrative voice of Joshua Ferris’s masterly debut, “Then We Came to the End,” are on intimate terms with the concept of branding. As branders, they undoubtedly would have advised their creator, in planning his second novel, to hew closely to the recipe that made his first novel such a critical and popular success, that made it read sort of like a highbrow novelization of “The Office.” With his second novel Ferris makes it clear that he has absolutely no intention, for the moment at least, of repeating himself or creating an authorial brand. In fact, it’s difficult to believe that “The Unnamed” and “Then We Came to the End” come from the same laptop. zaxbyslistenss