“This is my book,” I say to MadFather. Forty-seven index cards are laid out on the bed, each representing one scene. “But it lacks pacing here, and I think these four scenes need to go, and this reveal needs to be… more.”
MadFather puts his hand to his chin. “Talk me through it, then,” he says.
So I do. It takes thirty minutes, because I am boring and like to explain all the nuances and themes. He listens silently.
“I think you’ve started too early,” he says. he points to the fourth index card. “Start here.”
“And I think the two main plots need to interlink more…”
I look out of the window at the darkening Saturday afternoon. Why don’t you just write it how you want it the first time? is a think people say when you tell them you are on draft two of a novel. But it’s just… Writing a novel is REALLY HARD. There is so much to consider: pacing, plot, characterisation, development, whether there is enough action interpersed with character development, whether the main plot is the main plot or if a reader might be more interested in the subplot, whether the action moves quickly enough, or too quickly and doesn’t leave any room for incidental action, and not to mention whether the actual sentences are well-constructed. I could go on: writing a novel with an actual plot is somehow more difficult than writing one without one, in a funny way.
“He sees this crime,” I say, “but he doesn’t know it. Why would that happen – how could that happen?”
“The crime needs to be different.”
MadFather picks up one of the cards and stares at it. “Hang on,” he says. “Just look.”
“It’s eighty thousand words?”
“Look,” he says. “He stands and gestures to the cards. “You wrote a book. Just look at it for a second. And let’s not think of the work that needs doing or the deadline or your worries. Let’s just look at this – you said you’d write a book in three months and you have.”