Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Serial novel-writing

In The Daily Telegraph, Ronan Bennett explains to Jasper Rees what it was like writing his latest novel, Zugzwang, in instalments.
"I think the first half stands up pretty well, and after that I do feel I lost the plot. There was too much exposition, rather than letting events and action lead you in, and some wrong turns that I couldn't put right. I left the rolling into the denouement too late, forgetting that actually endings need time. I realised by Chapter 28 that I was nowhere near the end."

Bennett now suspects that, as a writer who never plans his endings in advance, he bit off more than he could chew when he started researching the labyrinthine relationship between the Bolsheviks and the Okhrana, the Tsar's spy network...

It eventually took him seven months to revise what had taken him seven months to write. Loose ends were tied up, solecisms corrected, the second half was "substantially redone" and the entire ending rewritten.

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