When is a novel finished?

This is a kind of zen koan – a mind-bending unanswerable question – for many authors. But as I’m getting ready to send off my next manuscript, these are the ten questions I ask myself:

  1. Prose – is it fresh, evocative, vivid, agile? Is it clean, with the occasional sparkle? Are the first five pages as good as they can possible be? Does it have a killer first line? Does the reader get a feel (or at least a hint) for the upcoming conflict in the first few pages?

Writers on the edge…(Genius)

Yesterday I watched the film Genius, in which Jude Law plays the utterly driven writer Tom Wolfe, and Colin Firth plays the (genius) editor Max Perkins, who also edited Fitzgerald and Hemingway, both portrayed admirably in the film.

I think writers should go watch (or rent) the movie. Here’s why.

Wolfe has been rejected by every publishing house in town, until Max sees something in his work. Most writers, even successful ones, had a rough start, or have not yet even had that ‘lucky break’, which seems lucky when it happens to others, and hard-earned when it finally happens to them.…


Is it worth paying for a copy-edit?

First, I’m an author, not a copy-editor, and I’m not selling any services. For my first four books I didn’t use a copy-edit as it would have cost me around a thousand pounds to do so per book, and I didn’t think it was worth it. Now I have a large publisher behind me, and have just had a copy-edit done for me (for free), I’ve basically changed my mind. 

The last stage before your words are locked in forever
When your manuscript is heading for publication, after you’ve done all you can to polish it, there are always two remaining items to consider.