ness writes about writing

why i’m enjoying editing my second draft

I’m one quarter of the way through the first round of edits on Project If … WHICH HAS A PROPER NAME NOW (I know. I feel as though I’ve named a child. MY CHILD!) and I’d just like to announce exactly why I’m enjoying this fantasy/truly-terrible-political-thriller/mystery-with-a-touch-of-comedy …


What do you get when you try and combine John Wayne and Jackie Chan-esque characters? Nothing. That’s what. You give him a name and suddenly he decides that a) you make terrible decisions and b) he’ll be completely his own person thankyouverymuch

He doesn’t have many words, he hates paperwork, and his eye twitches when things get on his nerves. Also, he is thrust into many, many awkward and dangerous situations and my gosh there’s one in this health spa (there’s a health spa named after the Very Dramatic Heroine of a Very Dramatic Never Written Story That I Once Outlined. Because: obviously) and I DIDN’T MEAN FOR THE CLAY MASK AND THE MISSING TOWEL SITUATION BUT IT TOTALLY HAPPENED. And I cackled while I wrote it. And I have zero regrets.

Marius is …

  • a teddy bear, if the teddy bear has been up to his neck in bureaucracy and forms and completely done with it all.
  • a far distant cousin of Aquila, from The Lantern Bearers
  • a relative of the Phantom. (If having scars qualifies you as relative of the Phantom of the Opera. In that case, I’m related tO HIM TOO! Who knew that pruning my finger instead of the garden hedge would pay off so well?!!)
  • like Batman, in that he’s a man and he’s fictional.


Hilda’s name might change but I adore her. She may have a huge Marius-sized crush, but she also has a goal and by golly, she’s going to reach it even if it kills her. (And it just might kill her.) Born because yes, there might be love interests BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? LOVE INTERESTS HAVE THEIR OWN DANG INTERESTS TOO.

And then there is V. B. who I couldn’t resist but inject a leetle bit of a Heyer Hero into. (I. CAN’T. HELP. IT.) and K who is suffering from a terminal case of Bad Writing (NO fault of my own) but I will rescue you, I swear it. YOU WILL BE LIKE A GLORIOUS VIKING GARDENER.


Dragons are the blue whales of the sky.

the author

My imagination is having a BLAST.


I’m pretending that all the twists were meant to happen from the very beginning. It’s pretty fun to pretend, if just for a little while, that I am Clever and Totally Meant This To Turn Out The Way It Did.


The first draft is always horribly rough – and I love the fact that with a second draft I can go back and I can just do better. I’m not aspiring to greatness; I just wish for characters that make me feel and a world that draws me in and action that isn’t boring and perhaps something that I take with me once I’ve read the book. So not much. *cough*

If you’re a potter, I have an ENTIRE analogy for you: You know when you’ve centred the ball of clay and you’ve plunged your thumbs in? You’ve got to just bring the walls of the pot up and up to transform it from the dumpy little ball into something nice and refined and breathtaking? That’s what all the drafts after the first one are like. Right now I’m just thinning the walls.

So watch this space. I have a deadline. I have several deadlines. I am terrible at deadlines but oh, I’m going to try.

14 thoughts on “why i’m enjoying editing my second draft”

  1. You had me at “cousin to Aquila from The Lantern Bearers.” My entire novel that I’m writing (still on first draft) could be said to be cousin to The Lantern Bearers, or even to Sutcliff’s whole oeuvre.

    Congrats on making it past the first draft! Sounds like you have some fun stuff going on.

    1. … then you must let me have my hands on it at some point!! Is it set in that sort of time period or are you embodying the spirit of it? I adore her books. They shaped my childhood and more.

      Thank you – there’s plenty of editing to do but I’m having a blast 🙂

      1. The spirit of her books. Mine is a fantasy set in my own invented world, but the culture and landscape are strongly influenced by Scotland (which I feel in love with through Celtic music, Sutcliff books, and then studying for a time there myself). My writing style and sensibilities are influenced by Sutcliff almost as much as by Tolkien. They both, in different ways, taught me to know what my characters eat for breakfast, and the names of the trees and plants around them, and the strong beauty of platonic friendships. They both recognized the importance of song to their cultures too; Tolkien through the narrative and mythological songs his characters sing, and their occasional wild bursts of expressive verse, and Sutcliff through the marching songs her soldier characters often sing or whistle to themselves.

        A time will come when I’m looking for readers to critique drafts, especially readers who don’t know me personally. And if I get it published, I’ll be happy to spread it about the blogosphere!

      2. P.S. The Lantern Bearers is my favorite move outside Tolkien’s works. 🙂 Close begins are The Eagle of the Ninth, and The Mark of the Horse Lord.

      3. The Mark of the Horse Lord STUNNED me with that ending. What about Dawn Wind? That one is great too. And the Silver Branch??

        Her platonic friendships are done SO damn well.

        Also, you have good taste.

      4. Read Outcast in high school right after discovering Lantern Bearers and Eagle of the Ninth. At the time I was disappointed because it seemed to lack the action of those books. But that was a long time ago and I want to read it again, as I’m pretty sure I’ll find something great that I just wasn’t quite ready for as a teenager.

      5. It’s a while since I’ve read it (maybe I too am destined for a reread) but I remember being conflicted by the ending. I think it might be a quieter read but then, she’s amazing at writing those quiet emotions.

      6. Have you read “Warrior Scarlet”? It’s definitely a quieter book with an unconventional plot structure, but it’s beautiful. I have a review of it on my blog that might be worth checking out.

Thoughts? Opinions? Kittens? Pop 'em below and let's chat ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s