Justice Will Be Done …

Anyone who reads my work will be acquainted with my continual need to see justice done. It’s usually summary in style. After all, who needs a judge and jury when you know who the bad guys are? I know that there are those who might disagree, but we’re talking fiction here.

The immediacy of that type of justice is more akin to retribution, a demand for an individual or group to pay the price for the wrongdoing.

What other justice is there?

Apart from that which we associate directly with crime, we can also, ‘do justice’ to someone or something. In other words, to represent fairness or appreciation where applicable.

Having completed another edit of my latest crime thriller, Codename: Foxglove, I feel that I’ve encompassed both meanings of justice. Within the story, there are few grey areas for the characters. They are either bad guys doing bad things, or good guys doing bad things to bad guys. In that second category, in mitigation, and using artistic licence, I absolve the good guys.

How have I used the second meaning of justice?

I feel that I’ve done justice to my original idea for Beyond The Law and the creation of the trilogy. From a passing thought (as we creatives tend to have), Phil McKenzie’s plight became a poem. By the end of the poem, I knew there had to be more. It became a thirty-plus poem series; The Hawk.

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I followed up on the supportive comments of my fellow poets on the Starlite Cafe website, and prepared notes with a view to using the poetry series as the basis for my first novel. In further preparation, I enrolled for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November 2010. I completed the challenge and ended with a rough 65,000 word story. I was in full-time work at that time so it took two years of dedication and multiple drafts before Beyond The Law was published.

I increased my output (work permitting), and apart from other stories over the next few years, I completed my first crime thriller. I later amended the title to Beyond The Law: Formation, because it became the first in a trilogy. Like many of my readers, Rachel was a favourite character of mine, and so she was developed in a spinoff; Codename: Nightshade.

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Once again as the story closed I had a nagging doubt about leaving things as they were. Dominique had been introduced in Rachel’s story and at that point I recognised what had to be done. The series needed not only another spinoff, but one which would provide closure.

Codename: Foxglove is now a few weeks away from publication, having been through two full edits already, and more are on the way. I aim to have the manuscript ready for beta readers by November.

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If you’d like to be one of my beta readers for this final tale in the series, I’ll be ready to send out the manuscript on Monday 29th November. The deadline I’m setting for returns/critique points is Sunday 5th December. This will afford me two weeks to work through the feedback and amend as necessary.

When I publish in mid-December, Justice will be done … regarding the Beyond The Law series.

Comments and suggestions are welcome as always, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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Beyond a title …

 

The Red Pen is mightier ...
The Red Pen is mightier …

I wrote in a blog post early in 2015 of my intention to revisit all my novels. As any writer will know, it is not a decision taken lightly. Once underway, the task becomes an obsession. Lifestyle is affected, and so too are social media habits. Other writing projects are sidelined, but the focus must remain on the primary issue – improvement of the target title.

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Since my intentions were stated last year, I’ve revisited four of my titles. Two have had a few hundred superfluous words removed, and two titles have been amended with subtle touches – and have now been categorised as ‘Romance’ rather than ‘Thriller’.

I accepted at the outset my greatest challenge would be to work on my top-selling title – Beyond The Law: Formation. (Originally titled, Beyond The Law)

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Beyond The Law: Formation

I believe a brief history will demonstrate how important this project was for me.

May 2008 – I introduced Phil McKenzie (Hawk) as an action character in a poem. I followed this rhyme with another and built a series of 30 poems about Hawk.

Nov 2011 – I used my ‘Hawk’ poetry series to write a novel in a month in the NaNoWriMo. The story consisted of 56,000 words.

Oct 2013 – Following 18 months of writing and rewriting, I published Beyond The Law. The tale had expanded to a staggering 154,000 words.

(At time of writing this post, it continues to be my top-selling title.)

Aug 2016 – The revised version is now available, and is now supported by Beyond The Law: Retribution, the second tale in the trilogy.

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Why affect the length if the book sells?

I’ve since written more books, and as all writers find, I am improving my appreciation of what is good, and what is better. I regularly check out the ‘do and don’t’ articles, and I recognised a few issues from my past writing.

Over-description (flowery language), passive dialogue, procrastinators, idlers, flat modifiers, qualifiers, and a few other odd words which are best left in the brain, not on the page.

Where did I find my list of procrastinators, idlers, etc.?

At this point I’d like to mention, and say a public thank you to Kelly Hartigan. I haven’t used Kelly’s professional editing services yet, but I am a keen follower of her wisdom. To find out about those groups of words I’ve mentioned, and to gain an insight into Kelly’s valuable tips and suggestions please visit:

Kelly Hartigan – website

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How have I amended Beyond The Law: Formation?

1. I removed the unnecessary words as detailed above (procrastinators, idlers, and so on).

2. I tightened the dialogue, and many dialogue tags, without altering what was said.

3. I located and amended passive voice, to active voice.

4. I located and amended a few cases of ‘head-hopping’ (changed Point of View). Okay, in this case there weren’t many, because I tend to hold a POV within a scene. If I want to change the POV, I change scene, usually by using a centrally-positioned asterisk, instead of a line-break.

5. I referred to all reviews, made notes of points raised, and made minor adjustments where necessary.

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How long did it take to perform this edit?

Six weeks. Apart from a couple of breaks of three or four days, it was constant, hard work.

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What is the end result?Novel - BTL - Formation - 220216

I trimmed 28,500 words from the manuscript, which began with 154,500 words.

The story is now 125,000 words, supported by 1,500 words used for back pages information on other titles.

I believe I’ve improved a story I already liked.

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Will I go on to perform the same ritual with my other titles?

Yes, all of them, and I’ll take each one on a slimming exercise. It’s not such a daunting task, because I’ve dealt with my longest book, so the others will feel less arduous.

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Why should I bother?

1 – I’d like my readership to get the best deal possible, and ‘the best deal’ isn’t only about the price, it’s also about the story, and the quality of writing.

2 – My intention is to produce my titles in paperback, but to ensure I’m able to use the same profile and book dimensions I must keep my word count down. In my eBooks for example, I give a blurb for each of my titles at the back of every book. These will be reduced to a list of titles by genre.

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A side effect of my efforts has been the relegation of my other projects. I will now work to complete three of the four other titles, but my next collection of short stories will be postponed until at least December 2016/January 2017.

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If you haven’t read Beyond The Law: Formation, the revised edition is available.

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As always, thank you for reading my thoughts, theories and ramblings. All feedback is welcome.

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