Today on my blog I have a guest post from Steven Neil, the author of The Merest Loss. This has caught my eye and I’ve definitely added it to my ever growing TBR pile!
A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English
hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.
When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?
Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?
The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centres on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery.
The Merest Loss is historical fiction with a twist. It’s pacy and exciting with captivating characters and a distinctive narrative voice.
THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.
Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.
Social Media Links
Twitter – https://twitter.com/stevenneil12
Here is Steven’s Guest Post on his approach to editing.
Editing the novel
In this post I reveal my approach to editing, developed during the time I was studying for my Masters in Creative Writing. I write straight on to a PC, sometimes using Dragon voice recognition. I write fast and rarely stop to edit as I go. I find the more the editing is separated from the first draft the better the second draft is. I think I need to be in a different, critical mindset when editing. As Hemingway is reputed to have said, ‘Write drunk, edit sober.’ I always edit by chapter. I try to write so that each chapter is a little story of its own. I limit my chapters to no more than 2500 words. My logic is that when I am reading in bed at night, if I get tired, I look to see how many pages until the end of the chapter. If there are only a few pages, I read on. If there are a lot, I put the bookmark in. In my novel, you are never more than a few pages away from chapter end.
Here is the checklist I used when editing The Merest Loss. Feel free to use it as a template for your own checklist and add and subtract as you see fit. I hope it may help some writers out there to fine tune their own drafts.
WRITING CHECKLIST (for each chapter)
Is there enough sight, sound and smell?
Can the reader see what I am describing?
Is there enough movement, action?
Is there humour?
Has emotion been evoked? What will the reader feel?
Has the reader’s attention been captured?
Is the writing elegant, simple?
Have I put in things the reader will skip?
Is there fascination?
Are the adjectives, adverbs interesting? Are there too many?
Is the tense consistent?
Is the perspective consistent?
Is the voice consistent?
Are the verbs interesting enough?
Is the writing grammatical?
Is the punctuation correct?
Are the paragraph breaks appropriate?
Is there enough plot development?
Is there enough mystery?
Is the use of qualifiers and intensifiers appropriate and limited?
Is the reader captivated?
Does the reader think what I want them to think? Is there room for confusion?
Do the speech patterns reflect the person and the milieu?
How does it sound when read aloud?
Is there at least one compelling simile or metaphor?
Is there anything that could be seen as cliché?
Is any of the writing laboured or awkward?
Is the sentence length varied?
Is there any telling that could be shown instead?
Is the back-story necessary and well integrated?
Is there enough pace? Is it too slow or too fast?
Is there tension?
Are any words out of place e.g. too modern?
Is there character development i.e. does the reader learn something about a character that is new?
Is there plot development i.e. is there a new clue or piece of information?
Is there enough dialogue? Is it the best way to advance the story?
Can any words be taken out?
Is there at least one compelling phrase or image with a poetic element?
Is it credible, believable?
Is there too much name repetition?
Is the dialogue separated from the description?
Is it authentic?
Does it feel true?
What is resolved?
What is still to be resolved?
Will the reader want to read on?
© Steven Neil