Tag Archives: editing

It’s my party and I’ll release a new book if I want to…

So, two things going on today.

One: I’ve officially entered mid-life crisis territory.

Two: I’ve released a surprise novella!

We’ll not dwell too much on the former, but the latter? Well, that’s something I do want to talk about. New book’s called THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT and it’s a crime/ horror hybrid about a young goth girl called Kayley who… well… ends up in a basement. You can grab it now on all e-reader devices for the paltry sum of 77p.

(That’s 99c for our friends in the US).

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Episode 5

Wayne’s back with more genre goodness!

This month features:

A reading from Wayne’s latest release, PLASTIC JESUS (available now from Salt Publishing).

An interview with Cardiff-based TV and radio presenter, Gary Slaymaker, talking about his production company, Slaycorp.

A new regular slot with genre hack, David Moody, this month dealing with one of David’s favourite sub-genres: the B-Movie.

The ever-popular flash fiction comp, this month featuring guest judge, Scott Harrison (TWISTED HISTORIES).

Music courtesy of Galactic Cowboys: their self-titled debut album from 1991.

Download/ listen/ subscribe to for FREE by following this link.

WRITE CLUB: Joseph D’Lacey on the editing of BLOOD FUGUE

Delighted to welcome fellow horror guy Joseph D’Lacey back for today’s Write club. Joseph continues his two-parter discussion of editing (you can read part one here). 

Life-saving surgery Part II: The Blood Fugue edit


By the time I met Steve Haynes, editor of Proxima, I’d written eleven novels and fifty short stories, taught creative writing – specifically, novel writing – for a few years, had a BFS award under my belt and a Stephen King endorsement worth tattooing on my forehead. I thought I’d been around the block, that I knew about writing and editing books.

After working with Steve (Hacker Haynes, The Butcher of Bodmin to his friends) I discovered I knew only two things:


  1. It’s hard.
  2. Knowing it’s hard doesn’t make it any easier.


This is what happened:

Having loved The Kill Crew, Steve contacted me to ask what I had that might suit his imprint. I pitched him four novel outlines over coffee. He liked two of them and I sent written synopses of both. He picked Fugue Hunter and we got to work.

The novel was 108K. To make a good impression and ensure the later editing passes were easier, I went through the manuscript cutting out everything superfluous or overwritten and generally tightening and polishing. I got it down to 100K and proudly sent the file.

I didn’t hear anything for a week or two. Then an email came in with two words in the subject line. It was from Steve. The two words were: ‘Hatchet Job’.

The attached file was 75K.


Whole sections had gone. Two characters had been deleted. Steve had even – to use his expression – ‘excised’ an entire chapter. I stared at the damage like a man waking from anaesthesia to discover his legs and genitals have been amputated.

Then a funny thing happened. When I began to study the much slimmer ms (through my tears…) I saw all kinds of things that didn’t need to be there. Fat sentences, redundant phrasing, pointless dialogue, discursive passages – I could go on. Disgusted with myself, I snapped on the latex gloves and attached a clean blade to my scalpel.

We took turns on the unconscious body of our patient until it was lean, sculpted and beautiful. The cuts even allowed me to add some scenes, increasing tension and threat in the early chapters. When we were done, even with extra sections, the novel barely grazed 76K. Almost 30% of the original text was gone.

Looking back over our work together, Steve called it a masterclass in rewriting. That’s probably a little too congratulatory. Whatever it was, the unpublishable Fugue Hunter became the published Blood Fugue.

But even that’s not the whole story.

Fugue Hunter had been turned down by at least seventeen literary agencies, rejected by most major publishing houses in the UK and several in the USA. It was, in fact, my first horror novel, written in 2003. I’d already redrafted the novel many times over the years before Steve took an interest in it.

Two things about this process seem suddenly obvious now:


  1. The earlier drafts of the novel weren’t accepted because they weren’t good enough. Editing made all the difference.
  2. A ‘completed’ novel you really believe in is something you should keep working on. Editing makes all the difference.


In November 2012, Blood Fugue hit shelves and e-readers all over the place. I found myself looking back over the years I’d spent submitting and redrafting ad infinitum. At the time, it had all seemed a little pointless but seeing the book ‘dressed’ in its cover, holding it my hands and finding it so positively reviewed in so many places; it became worth every hour I’d lost count of in the making.

Editing never ends.


And you never know where it might lead.


Joseph D’Lacey is best known for his shocking eco-horror tale Meat, a widely translated novel which prompted Stephen King to say “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!”.

Other works include Garbage Man, Snake Eyes, The Kill Crew, The Failing Flesh and Splinters – a collection of his best short stories. He won the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer in 2009.

His new apocalyptic fantasy Black Feathers is out on 26th March in The USA/4th April in the UK.

Follow JD’L on Twitter, on Facebook and on Goodreads

THE WRITE CLUB: Joseph D’Lacey on Editing

Okay, here’s a brand new feature on the blog. Once in a while, I’m going to have someone from the publishing industry (writer, editor, publisher, agent etc.) over to the blog to talk about a particular topic of interest. Hopefully, this will help demystify the industry for aspiring writers as well as draw your attention to key people within the world of genre fiction. 

Kicking us off is fellow horror hack Joseph D’Lacey on (din din diiiiiinnnn!) EDITING…


Life-saving Surgery: a word on editing for the improving writer


Joseph D’Lacey


I’m not talking about lancing the infected spot which could have ruined your looks forever or the operation that ensured your brain stayed in your head the night you got drunk and fell off your pushbike or the time they stitched your little finger back on after you lost it in a bet.

I’m talking about the most relevant survival procedure in a terrifying and threatening world. I’m talking about editing – the only surgery that actually gives you a fighting chance in this overcrowded world of wannabe authors. Imagine the competition as the zombie hordes and you’ll have an idea of how many people out there are trying to do what you’re doing.

Short term, you can’t beat the undead multitudes by trying to improve your writing. Your ability to write can only improve marginally, no matter what you study or how many hours you put in.

However, your editing skill will mature and improve significantly throughout your entire writing life. If you want results fast, if you want to rise to the top of that pyramid of the scrabbling dead, let the writing sort itself out and concentrate on editing.

FACT: If you don’t have an editor, your work will not be of as high a standard as that of a writer who does.

The best editor is the one your publisher assigns you. If this hasn’t happened for you yet, don’t panic. There’s no way around it other than to be your own best editor until you have the good fortune to work with one. The way to do that is to rework each piece you write several times. A lot of several times.

5 crucial editing passes: 

  1. Cut for flow. Does the story slow down, wander off, become cyclical for no good reason? Is it cluttered with extraneous description? Lose everything that interrupts a smooth read.
  1. Cut for form. How does your work look on the page? Is it blocky and dense? Go back and look at your paragraphs. What does each passage do? Does it have a purpose? If so, can it be shorter? Break up long blocks of text into smaller paragraphs. Create white space on your page. Make it simple and inviting. Remember, before it’ll ever get as far as an actual paying reader, this fiction of yours has to convince an editor it’s worthy. [NB: Self-publishing your work? This rule is even more important for you. With no editor, the likelihood that you’ll entertain or satisfy a reader is greatly reduced.]
  1. Cut for clarity. Is there something here that might cause a reader to pause or reread a section? Is there anything, anything at all, that isn’t easy to understand? Rewrite or discard it. If you don’t, you risk losing your reader’s attention. If that happens, chances are they’ll never pick up a piece of work with your name on it again.
  1. Cut for pace. Is the story moving along in every section? In every sentence? Is there always a reason for a reader to want more? Pace should create a domino effect; one incident falling into the next – even if they’re unconnected by time, character or setting – creating a desire in the reader to keep reading. Anything that unnecessarily prevents or slows this chain reaction has to go.
  1. Cut for relevance. You know that beautiful description of your character’s mother in a flashback? That’s probably the most amazing prose you’ve ever written. People will read it and think ‘Fuck, I’ll never write as well as that.’ No. Actually, they won’t. They’ll never even see it. Because if it isn’t part of the story, if it doesn’t propel the story forwards, you’re going to take a big, dirty cleaver and amputate it. This is a story. This is fiction. Put that beautiful, now pale and bloodless limb in the meat locker and use it in a poem some other time.


There are many editing passes you should make – for structure, grammar, consistency, spelling, character motivations, story arcs and dialogue – but the five I’ve detailed will do much to raise the standard of your work without you even thinking about your actual writing ability.

If Wayne will have me back, I’ll talk about the Blood Fugue re-write next time, detailing the exact nature of the cuts and changes made to a novel I believed was waaaaay beyond ready for publication. The ensuing edit turned out to be among the biggest writing lessons of my life.


Joseph D’Lacey is best known for his shocking eco-horror tale Meat, a widely translated novel which prompted Stephen King to say “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!”.

Other works include Garbage Man, Snake Eyes, The Kill Crew, The Failing Flesh and Splinters – a collection of his best short stories. He won the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer in 2009.

His new apocalyptic fantasy Black Feathers is out on 26th March in The USA/4th April in the UK.

Follow JD’L on Twitter, on Facebook and on Goodreads