Ian Rankin: ‘Solitude, coffee, music: 27 days later I have a first draft’

Via The GuardianIan Rankin: ‘Solitude, coffee, music: 27 days later I have a first draft’. He describes a regime few of us can arrange, lacking a house in northeast Scotland and a patient spouse, but still offers much useful advice. Excerpt:

There is no such thing as a “typical” day, even when I’m busy on a book. Some days the words flow, others feel like wading through suet. The phone rings, the doorbell sounds, there’s shopping to be done or an urgent email demanding a reply. That’s why I try to get away.

I’ve got a house on the north-east coast of Scotland, three and a half hours by car from Edinburgh. Very limited mobile phone signal and no TV. There’s a landline but I haven’t given the number to my agent, publisher or any journalist. Perfect.

I’m in the middle of a new book right now. It’s going pretty well. The first draft took me 27 writing days. It’s rough – really just me checking the plot works. The second draft sees me polish the prose, fix faults in chronology and geography, and add meat to the bones of my characters.

So while my first drafts are usually done at a gallop – if I’m writing quickly, then the story will also have pace – I take things more slowly in the second and third drafts. The third draft is normally what my publisher and agent get to see.

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