Every author writes and then has to edit. It’s a painful process. Whole sentences that were lovingly selected have to go. Some of my funniest lines have been cast into the outer darkness during this culling.
Not only must the writing be polished, but the plot must be rigorously tested, and this is where I pay tribute to my brother. My books are subjected to a two-way test upon completion. My wife reads them (but she’s far too nice to say anything very critical) and then my brother is let loose. He is nice too, but that won’t stop him sending a sheaf of suggested changes, notes of solecisms and plot deficiencies.
I must be improving because he had about 125 for my first Mercurius book and he only had forty-something for the latest. But he’s good – really good!
He spotted, for example, that on page 113 I said something that appeared to contradict something at the foot of page 48. He was right. He noticed that a character spoke to Mercurius on page 70 as if Mercurius does not know who he is, whereas around page 25 he is directly addressed by someone to whom Mercurius is speaking. I don’t slavishly adopt all his ideas – I am not sure of his soundness on the implications of the Calvinist doctrine of double predestination, for example, so I left my text alone – but every writer needs someone like him, that trusted person who will tell them what they really think.
It makes editing much less lonely, and much more successful. So, thank you, Ian, once again.