My novel undergoes its own dramatic transformation.

Rachel and I have three people’s novels to edit at the moment. There are contracts to negotiate, a tax return due, and this week I had a podcast to prepare for.

Turns out, being too busy to think about your own writing is the ideal state for inspiration. That, relatively fresh eyes on a project and reading a really helpful craft book.

I’ve not looked at this next WIP for almost two years – not worked on it properly for four. So I was able to read it as if it wasn’t mine . The main weaknesses were immediately obvious, but I still loved the characters and relationships. I was prepared to be ruthless to make their arcs work.

Meanwhile, I panicked about the podcast I was appearing on with Gary Dalkin, our ridiculously well-connected editor. The co-hosts were Matt Bird, screenwriter and author of Secrets of Story, and James Kennedy, author of the critically acclaimed Dare to Know. They were exceptionally well-read and -watched. I’ve not even watched all the Star Wars films.

And they’d reserved 3 hours for the recording. There was no way I wasn’t going to say something stupid in that time.

What if they didn’t get my English sense of humour? What if I didn’t get theirs?

I started reading Matt’s book to prepare.

Which was a very good move for my WIP. I haven’t come across such an insightful craft book in years. So many bits of well-worn advice thrown out of the window. I hadn’t even finished it before I started recommending it to other people.

Biggest takeaway this week: a character doesn’t have to and probably shouldn’t, go from complete ‘zero to hero’. They only need to get in their own way some of the time. We root for people who have something in them that makes us hope they might win through.

(Btw, there was nothing to fear from the recording. Matt and James were lovely to us.)

With Matt’s insights, my fresh eyes, and lack of time for obsessing about the problems with my novel, I made miraculous progress. The structure and character arcs have fallen into place for starters. By which I mean I have a plan, not that I’ve done all the work involved.

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