Just doing the 3rd draft of POINT. How I work (mostly) is this:

1) Plough through a first draft without looking back.

2) Do a total rewrite for the second draft. By this I mean that I avoid amending existing text. Instead, I have a demarcation line between 2nd and 1st draft: as I rewrite a passage (mostly without reading the older version) I delete the older version.

3) Polish/tighten up as a 3rd draft. This time I do edit existing text.

4) Print it out, read it aloud, and make corrections on the hardcopy before changing it on the laptop to create a 4th draft.

5) Email 4th draft to anxious publisher. (Deadline? What deadline?)

Over the past year and a half, the little twist has been that I've been working on 2 books at once (ABSORPTION and EDGE were interleaved in writing time; now it's TRANSMISSION and POINT).

Depending on how much I outlined the book before writing it (for the purpose of getting a publishing contract beforehand) the first draft can either be long and meandering or immense and weaving drunkenly across the storyscape. I've twice written books whose 1st draft was nearly double the length of the printed book - ABSORPTION and PARADOX. (That's tended to mean an extra draft, so that the 3rd draft is the big rewrite.)

Enough of writing. How about some politics?

EDGE and POINT are near-future novels. The two main political parties in the future UK are the LabCon party and the TechnoDemocrats. A reasonable extrapolation from our current lot? Let's hope. I'm expecting no miracles from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, but maybe some decent measures in the current clime.

Whoda thunkit, tho', about Nick Clegg as deputy PM?

I know some people thought the political satire in PARADOX was a bit dated - I mean, who cares about aristocracy, since we don't really have one anymore, right? And yet the Liberal Democrats are the only party to believe in abolishing the House of Lords. (You might have thought the Labour party would have destroyed that institution during their past 13 years in power, but it didn't happen, did it?)

For US and other non-UK readers: you do know that the upper house in Parliament consists entirely of people who have never been voted into office, right? Imagine a US Senate with hereditary membership. (Plus new members sliding in through some covert process not open to public gaze - a retirement present for old politicos.)

Maybe I'll stop leaving the blog a politics-free zone, eh?


Blogger Chris Mays said...

So thrilled to hear you're churning out the drafts! Is there any confusion with both you and T. Blackthorne sharing head/keyboard?

Yes, a lot of us Norte Americanos know the House of Lords is unelected. Here, we have the House & Senate of Lobbyists writing and passing legislation, which amounts to the same thing.

May 25, 2010 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger John Meaney said...

No problem sharing the head and keyb- He lies! Some day I will take control forever and then he - No, back, back...

Er, no problem at all. Honest.

Actually, there's some weird benefit, in that Tom gets to indulge in martial arts violence while using cultural references from everyday life, and John gets to dream up weird worlds. Absorption had no need of martial arts, but I might have been tempted to put some in if I hadn't had Edge to glory in.

So lobbyists, yes, I'd forgotten about those. In the House of Commons we have Party Whips - that's a job title, not an implement. Their role is to whip party members into line - voting with the party instead of taking an independent (or lobby-driven!) stance.

I'd always been bemused by the American reverence for the Constitution, and using it as a filter or framework for discussing legal and political issues. (And I do mean reverence, like a sacred document.) It was only during our election coverage that someone mentioned a little thing that I'd not paid attention to before - the Supreme Court's ability to overturn a law passed by Congress, if the law violates the Constitution.

That explains why people care so much about who the judges are. Got it.

In Britland, Parliament has the final say in passing laws. Hence the massive outcry over our recent expenses scandal. The guy who got his duck house in his moat paid for by the taxpayers did not even understand why people were angry. We would prefer our final arbiters to be moral and ethical people.

The rotten class system is still here. That's part of it. Although now people speak of the political class, and it's not a compliment.

May 26, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

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