3/9/2018 – Cleanup Crew


Last night I had a dream I was being eaten by blind dogs.

This is good.

It’s the type of thing that usually happens when I reach the 70,000 word mark of my novel in progress. The current status of the plot is right before the mad rush to the climax. All the balls are up in the air, and it’s my job to catch them in a neat little row.

I am trialling a new method of editing, for which I start going over the book from the beginning as soon as I reach 40,000 words, the approximate halfway mark. I find that by then I’ve already got so many important things to fix that if I don’t start knocking some of them into place I risk becoming overwhelmed with the task ahead by the time I reach the end.

This way, as I blaze through first draft in a chaotic caffeine fuelled frenzy like Hunter S. Thompson on a crack binge, the Editor version of myself can comb through in the wake and mop up the mess. I think of it as my personal Clean Up Crew, the first to arrive after a natural disaster, moving aside the debris and putting mercy kill-shots in the heads of the surviving adverbs so that when the real help gets there the way is at least clear.

Already I can see how bad it’s going to be: useless adjectives lie screaming in the vacant streets of pointless scenes; characters wonder, shell shocked, through giant plot holes, looking for their arcs and finding nothing; a blues band is playing somewhere, but it doesn’t advance the story at all…

All told, I’m optimistic. There may be work to do, but there is also plenty to see that brings a light to my eye. After twenty failed novels, I’ve got a thousand yard stare: I’ve seen some shit, man, some real shit. And this book? Well, it’s not the worst I’ve seen. There may just be something here, yet.

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