How does this work then? Simply, there are no rules. If you have a story that needs writing, by definition, you and it are individual. Every book has a different set of circumstances. I draw fresh, specific contracts for each new project.
A few principles are consistent. Namely, it’s hard work! Expect your work to come in between 60,000 and 100,000 words. That’s the first point. Secondly, once we have met and I am comfortable acquiring your voice please budget for four months and six sessions a week via Skype or phone!
Only very rarely will I start writing anything during the first six weeks or so whilst I learn your nuances, character, thought-process… and then at the end, you can go on holiday and I’m still left with about a minimum of three months’ work rewriting, proofing, running the legal checks etc…
I NEVER reread or add your changes until I have completed the first full draft of the manuscript. Trust me, the more you reread during the process of writing, the less clarity and less objectivity you have at the end when it matters.
That is what you need to do.
Can you write twelve chapter headings? I do not mean fancy, literary-pleasing bits of wordplay. I want very simple headings. As an example, in ghosting Bodyguard for Craig Summers, this was all I had to go on…
- Bombed in Iraq
- Bringing the dead body home
- Burning the dead baby at the tsunami
- Buying children from Eastern Europe for Panorama
- Arrested, on the piss at Germany 2006
- On patrol with the Mexican cops on the most dangerous border in the world
- Inside bin Laden’s cave
- Gary Lineker’s bodyguard
- Smuggling sex workers from the Czech Republic
- Buying guns off the street abroad and evading customs at Dover
- Snorting coke in the name of character
- The health and safety decade
That became 127,000 words in 86 days. When you have done this, we can talk.