Monday, 12 November 2007

Reading a Manuscript Part Two (Part One)

I’ve finished my editorial notes for The Bromley Boys and have emailed them back to Dave: my next few entries will be a general summary of my main points. They’ve taken me longer than I would have liked, which is mainly because I’ve been pinging around from one book project to another and haven’t had the headspace to have a real think about Dave’s book. There’s been something nagging me about the manuscript and it took me a while to work out what it was.

What was nagging at me was this. Although Dave’s book is ostensibly about the worst season in Bromley’s history, what I realised on reflection was that it wasn’t actually about Bromley’s worst season in history after all – it was really about Dave. It’s the coming of age story of a fourteen-year-old football fan who goes from being an outsider to one who belongs. The football stuff is important, but it’s a backdrop to the real narrative, which is Dave’s personal journey. The fact that we know from the start that the season is Bromley’s worst means there is little plot 'pull' in this storyline. Essentially, they started badly, and stayed bad. The only dramatic tension is whether or not they can avoid being really, really bad. So the structure has to be shaped around Dave.

Once I’d worked this out, I went back through the manuscript to mark down where the plot points were in terms of Dave’s personal journey. I then had a look at Dave’s original chapter structure, and worked out how to reshape it in accordance with these plot points. The chapters in which the main points were football ones, I folded into the ‘Dave’ chapters. From the original 34 chapters, I’ve reshaped into 22. It’s worth saying that in doing so, I’ve haven’t suggested any cuts – it’s all been to do with moving the chapter markers to (what I think is) their rightful place. Chapter breaks, for me, are signposts as to where the narrative is going and as in real life, unclear signage can lead to people getting lost.

1 comment:

Bhoyo said...

I'm the other Dave from Dave's book. It's wonderful reading the back and forth here. Makes me feel 14 again - but in a good way. Dave did actually drag me along to see the woeful Bromley that season. Once. He was in his pipe-smoking phase, insisting there was such a thing as "that Condor moment." That was the only entertaining thing about the entire outing.