The new draft of The Ghost Smuggler that I’m writing at the moment is definitely a very different beast – hopefully a better beast.
There’s the switch from third person to first person which is obviously a significant change but there’s other things as well.
There’s less traveling for a start.
I noticed during the first draft (and this was reinforced by some of Jeff VanderMeer’s feedback) that I have a tendency to fill in all the gaps in a timeline. If characters need to get from A to B, well, I need to talk about that and all that travelling gets boring very quickly. That’s not happening any more.
I’ve also moved some of the scenes to different locations so that there isn’t any travelling in the first place.
In the book, our hero, Kaei, is hired to find someone in the mines under the desert city of Karabar. Originally Kaei travelled across the city to accept the job, then travelled to meet another character that was going to help him, then walked back across the city again to get to the mines. Now, everyone meets up in one place and heads out to the mines from there. Much better.
The second thing I’m trying to avoid is enjoying writing rather than enjoying telling the story.
This was some advice that horror author Steve Harris (no relation) gave me a long time ago. He’d been reading a story of mine and pointed out that there was a passage where it was obvious that the words were flowing smoothly and I was really enjoying writing. Unfortunately, I was happily writing all these words, adding all these neat little details about the world, but the story wasn’t going anywhere – I’d got so wrapped up in writing that I’d forgotten to tell the story.
There were definitely times in that first draft of The Ghost Smuggler where that happened so this time I’m trying to make sure that any information in those ‘fun’ bits of writing are woven neatly into the story not just thrown thoughtlessly onto the page. [Philip Harris]