The Sterling Directive

By Tim Standish

An espionage thriller set in an alternative late 19th century London.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Close to the Edit

Just a quick update on where things are with The Sterling Directive.

I had my first call a few weeks ago with my editor, Craig. He was really good to work with and has the gift of being constructively and helpfully critical in a way that is encouraging - both overall and when it comes to specific aspects of the manuscript. He also has a very wry and deadpan sense of humour. 

I was quite neverous to hear the feedback of a professional reading the book for the first time and was delighted when Craig said he actually enjoyed reading it. Phew! Key Performance Indicator No. 1 achieved.

This stage is what is called the structural edit, so Craig's feedback was on plot, structure (obvs), characters and so forth. In passing he said that the manuscript was really clean (thank you my grammarian test readers!) so we are hoping that the copy edit (looking at the writing itself) will be relatively quick.

In the meantime though, I have the task of incorporating this first, overall set of feedback. In fact, there isn't that much to change - and nothing to remove, which is so far from what I was dreading and very pleasing. There's some work to do on some of the scene setting and letting some more of Sterling's inner thoughts and feelings show through, as well a couple of scenes that need the pace tweaking slightly. I also need to do some work bringing the alt-history timeline and current state of world affairs into focus more clearly and more quickly. 

All the feedback was great, however, the first bit Craig gave me was my favourite, made me laugh, and it went something like this:

Craig: Can I just check, is this meant to be set at a specific time?

Me: Oh yes, it's in November, 1896.

Craig: Okay, but there's no concpetual or stylistic reason why you are keeping that deliberately vague?

Me: Er, no. I've got a really detailed timeline laid out for everything that happens in the book and it's very specific. I know which day each chapter is taking place, what time Maddox arrives in London. No, I'm very clear when it's set.

Craig. Right. (pause). You should probably just tell the reader that.I mean literally, just put the date at the beginning of the book.

Me. (embarrased, laughing, slaps own forehead) Oh. Right. Yes. That would probably help.

So, off to the edit! First task: type out the words 'London, 1896' at the beginning.

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