The Returning Tide – Work In Progress
I’ve neglected the blog – sorry. Life has been a bit full on and with the relocation from Dubai to the UK it’s become even more distracting.
However I thought I’d blog a bit about what happens with a book once the first draft is done. Sometimes a ‘book’ has been in my head for years so by the time my fingers hold a pen or hit the keyboard I know the story. But this hasn’t been the case with The Returning Tide. One February day my editor and I sat down to talk about the next book. I thought it was going to be one I had in my head…in fact I’d written 20,000 words already, but she wanted something different. Cue brainstorming session of about three hours…all sorts of gems that had been just chilling in the back of my mind began to pull together as the paper in front of me filled and an idea came together. By the time lunch was over I had something to work with…
Just before the end of September I considered the rough draft done…later than I would have liked because my first drafts are a disaster – thankfully they are for my eyes only. The book only truly begins to take shape once I begin to edit. So the first thing is to print it off.
1. print out single spaced and between 10-12 Times font (this is so that I can fit the whole book into about 100 pages and doesn’t frighten me as much this way)
2. highlighters, coloured pens, a notebook – this book has two timelines and three key characters so I need colours that will represent these things. I am very visual and at a glance I can see where things are (the brilliant Julia Cohen does this with coloured post-it notes – my cat loves post-it notes and I lose plot point this way!)
3. READ – make notes in the notebook and on the page. DO NOT TOUCH THE COMPUTER – repeat do not touch the computer. If compelled to rewrite or write a new scene then do it on the page or in the note book
4. Wait a day at least – do the laundry, take a bath…talk to spouse!
5. Gather pens, notebook and marked up script…make notes of that things you noticed page by page. You are creating your own editorial letter just like an editor doing a line edit would send you. I also make a separate list of the BIG ISSUES that I need to address or simply remember to ‘pull’ through the story be that themes, imagery or the hero’s eye colour – can not say how many times that changes…
6. Begin to rewrite using the notes you’ve made
7. Repeat process…
Here’s the opening scene of The Returning Tide – draft 2…it may well change!
Make haste! The tide of Fortune soon ebbs.
September 8th, 1945
The marquee housing the wedding party was small, but it was not needed the weather was perfect for September. The long wheat in the next field rippled in the light easterly breeze under the clear blue sky, but the sea swelled like my sister’s belly. The war was over. My sister had just married and not too soon, for she was starting to show. Her groom, handsome in his US Army Captain’s uniform, stood awkwardly beside her with his arm resting lightly against her back. He squinted into the distance looking for something, something that had been lost. Innocence, I should imagine. Eventually they would head to America and, if fate were kind, I would never see my sister again.
I turned from the couple and my father came to me with his camera. His hands shook. This was new and not ideal for a surgeon.
‘Take the photograph for me.’
I pressed my lips together about to shake my head and refuse.
‘Yes, take it.’ His voice sounded as if he was giving an order to the troops and not to his eldest child. He wore his uniform and he outranked me. He was a major in the army still and I had just been released from the navy. He had a role and I was adrift on the tide, ready to go where it would take me as long as it was away from here.
I held the camera in the direction of my sister but could not look through the viewfinder. I did not want to see the couple perfectly framed in the September sunshine. It was not an image I wanted to keep. Instead I peered over the top of the camera, looking at the house. Up until July Windward had been a place of happiness, refuge and peace despite the war. Once the camera clicked I handed it back to Father and walked away. My duty was done. I’d had enough.
As I looked out to Falmouth Bay I could see the exposed rocks that littered the beaches below threatening any boat trying to navigate on to them at high tide without a chart. One night in London I met the most handsome US officer at the Savoy. Just one glance from his big blue eyes and I was lost without a map and my compass found a different north. Everything changed. My sister had been the romantic one, the flighty one. She never stopped talking about dreams of a house and kids. How deluded I had been. I had wanted more. I had worked hard to gain a place at university. But then the war came and had altered everything including me.