'Books are not written, they are rewritten' - the 2013 revising and editing thread(381 Posts)
Anyone who already has a draft (NaNo veterans and others?) want to join me for a rewriting thread?
I am working on my draft from NaNoWriMo 2012.
I've never successfully edited a novel before - I've written first drafts and attempted to edit them but never managed to either be ruthless enough, or to really understand what I had to do. This time is different because it's clear that it needs very major work at all levels; the NaNo draft feels like a zero draft rather than a first draft. I've been reading 'how to write' stuff manically over the last month (something I've never really done before) and have a lot to go on. Starting by plotting it again from the ground up, then will work through scene by scene using relevant bits from my first draft but basically starting with a blank page, which I hope means I will not be too attached to any of my previous words. My target for Easter is to get it to a stage where other people can read it and tell me how to change it so I can write it all over again
How many words do you have TunipTheVegedude?
It could do with being a bit longer. I think I rushed it a bit towards the end and didn't develop some scenes fully. I have some new subplots to come in and some others to come out.
Wow. I am starting to write and I'm at 3,094 words. Any advice?
I think from your posts on the other thread you are doing the right thing, which is just to write and not worry too much about it. I like Write Or Die for if you ever have trouble getting going. And though in general the creative writing books can make you overthink at this stage, there are some really lovely inspirational ones - I just finished Stephen King's 'On Writing' which is really good.
Thanks for starting this, Tunip! I'm just posting to get it on my 'I'm on' threads and will put down some concrete targets later.
Shall I put 'read Tunip's novel' in my diary for the Easter hols?
Yes please GrendelsMum
I've been reading my first draft again. This has been made even more enjoyable by a sarcastic voice that has popped up in my head similar to that of Cassandra Parkin's Fifty Shades of Grey critiques which takes the piss every time my writing gets really terrible. I think the delete button and I are going to get to know each other very well in the coming months....
Hope it's going well... First draft reading can be grim, can't it?
Anyway, I'm just checking in to say I got a couple of chapters edited over the last week, and will try to get another couple done this coming week.
Are you working on the one I read or your 2012 NaNo?
It's very interesting coming back to the first draft. Obviously there is a bit of gloom about just how crap it is, but there are also bits that work that I feared wouldn't, which is nice. And the action scenes that I felt awkward writing are actually the best bits (probably because I worked so hard at them). Because it is historical and I was researching as I went along, there are a lot of bits that are rubbish because they are so vague, but since writing them I've filled in the gaps in my mind so I now have the information to make them specific and much more effective. And in the bits that I had researched before writing, I've made the classic bad historical novelist mistake of putting in far too much of it, which is going to be very easy to deal with
I'm really looking forward to reading yours! You've got your first reader all lined up.
Yes, I'm working on the one you read, attacking the dull patch in the middle. I'm hoping it will be a much pacier read in a couple of month's time. A friend (and published author) read the opening 2 chapters and was very complimentary so I just have to keep the standard up throughout the other 40 chapters!
Gosh, it didn't drag much for me. Is that what other people have said?
Having bought Scrivener and devoted ages to trying to learn how to use it, I've just replotted by the 'arranging lots of little bits of paper on the floor' method. Still using Scrivener for other stuff though.
Ooh. Great thread. I'm about a quarter of the way through a first redraft. I just sort of vomited it all out in to a word document and now I have to clean up inconsistencies and the odd tense slip I'm aiming to have a polished draft by March.
That's brilliant Chickens! Do you get much time to work on it?
Yes, I'm a SAHM with school age DC I've written bits and pieces for magazines and blogs, and then got the central idea for the story I'm writing now and just thought 'Go for it'. So I am
Sounds good Chickens, that's a few hours every day when you can focus at least. My older two are at school and the youngest at preschool in the mornings so I am not doing badly, though I only really make progress if I work in the evenings too.
Actually maybe I should be on this thread rather than the other one.
I'm attempting to write a submission for Mills & Boons ( please don't sneer) and its much harder than I had hopefully imagined.
I have a first draft written, but its only 34k when it needs to be 50k, although now that I'm re reading there is quite a lot needing added, and as I went through the process of trying to complete first draft as quickly as possible and I suspect I lost a bit of interest towards the end
I'm not sure if I should rewrite the whole lot before I attempt submission, or if I should focus on the first three chapters and synopsis for submission and then do the rest whilst I'm waiting to hear back.
I definitely feel that I need to get it up to 40k before sending anything in, to make sure that there is enough of a story to get to their required limits.
I work 4 days a week so I don't have a huge amount of time to focus on it ( should be doing it now as DH at beavers, but find that I need to do it in half hour spurts rather than long blocks and have done a wee bit at least)
Anyone well and truly fed up with their characters? I can't wait to get on to something else and write about nice new shiny new ones that don't have as many flaws as this lot!
I am eager to finish the current project, because I have a new idea that I really want to run with. I'm being strict with myself and not opening a new word document until this one is finished <sits on hands>
Btw, I am a bit addicted to Mills & Boon. Ahem.
I wouldn't dream of sneering Rookie. I always work on the principle that these things are Harder Than They Look and More Than I Have Ever Managed Myself.
I still love my characters, but then I am pretty early on in the process. Can you make yours more appealing? It just seems to me that if you're sick of them already, the whole thing will feel like a massive chore if you get it accepted and you have to rewrite it again. And I would worry that if I don't like them, that would come across to the reader at some level.
Chickens - I didn't finish my last project. I feel slightly guilty about this but I also think that this one is a far better concept than the last, and also, the last one was YA but this is YA historical which is what I really want to write long-term. Right now I don't like the idea of finishing this one in case I can't think of another equally good, but hopefully that's just what I ought to be feeling at this stage.
My first ever attempt at a novel (age 16) was a Mills and Boon. And so was my second (aged more like 26) - except the characters kept cracking jokes and trying to be funny, so that one came to an end.
I was semi joking - I'm ok with my characters, I don't absolutely hate them.
I think I probably just need to take a full break for a week or so to come back refreshed. If I was lucky enough to be accepted I'd be delighted to do whatever rewrites were necessary. I guess it's just being at the stage of not knowing if it is truly awful and I'm wasting my time or if it actually warrants further work that I'm finding hard. Once I have it polished up I might do a few short stories for a bit of a break.
What type of genre is your project Chickens?
I think at this stage we all have to work on the assumption that what we are doing warrants further work, don't we? It would be worse to make the error in the opposite direction and throw away something that might have been quite ok.
Yes indeed, Tunip!
I don't use Scrivener for replotting, but for writing and having everything open and searchable at once and being able to put notes in the notes area, I think it's brilliant.
When I re-read it after your notes, I personally thought the middle bit (where she wanders round vaguely talking to people and not knowing what to do) dragged horribly. So I'm souping it up a bit...
Hmm, not entirely sure to be honest. It's a sort of supernatural/horror/psychological....thing A bit scary. I frightened myself writing some bits . The story was so strong to me that I could see it unfolding as if it was a tv programme. That's proved my downfall, as I keep slipping in to present tense. So this rewrite is mainly going through and correcting that, so terribly dull work <yawn>.
Sounds intriguing Chickens! I would love to read it if you need beta readers at any point. I love scary books (the well-thumbed James Herbert novels you find in youth hostels....)
Is there a reason why it can't just all be present tense?
Yes. Well, sort of. I found on reading that I was slipping between past and present tense depending on how involved I was with what I was writing at that time. It works best as a story being told after the event, I think. And I might take you up on the reading thing if I ever feel brave enough to let it see the light of day .
I found reading Grendel's quite a useful process for me (as well as enjoyable) - it helps focus your mind on your own work to critique someone else's.
I am trying not to panic now about the fact that I am cutting so much out of the beginning, to make it start more energetically, that it has a knock-on effect through the rest of the book - some of my characters feel unbalanced, and there's crucial information that needs to be slipped in somewhere else. Also I'm worried it will end up too short.
I think it was A.S. Byatt who described the process of rewriting as like lacing up a long boot - each bit you tighten means that there are loose bits elsewhere that need to be pulled through, and you have to do it several times till you get it right.
Oh, don't worry about that whole 'my beginning is boring' bit, Tunip - I went through everything you've said about 8 months ago and I've survived to come out the other end, so I'm sure you will too!
You mean you survived by cutting loads, or by deciding you didn't need to cut loads?
Oh no, I cut loads because it was boring, and did all the agonising that you're going through. And it all worked out!
Is that the November novel writing thing? Dd did that too!
Yes. Is she doing anything with her draft?
I don't think so - she is 9, and I think the thought of revisiting it all, editing it all would be too much! The school ran a club throughout November, and they are going to put all the completed stories, printed, in a book, in the library.
That's great Lily. How long was it? What did she write about?
That's wonderful Lily, how great that the school really encourages them to become authors at that young age.
I have found a great site - apologies if everyone knows about it already. Its called grammarbase, you copy and paste in your stuff and then they check the grammar for you.
I went to a wonderful session last night, Mills & Boons Erotic Writing. Can't see myself writing erotica particularly but there were some very useful tips about the other series as well, oh and I got contacts ! So I'm very inspired and am polishing up my three chapters to send off, then I'll need to do synopsis and cover letter. I don't think they will ever be perfect but I guess I need to take the plunge at some stage.
She wrote a Jacqueline Wilson-esque novel about a girl in a children's home, but it turns out to be a magic children's home, and although it was grey on the outside it was really fun on the inside.
It was 25 pages, about 2500 words.
That's great Rookie!
If you need anyone to glance through your submission before you send it off, just shout.
Turnip that's a wonderful offer. I'm so worried it's completely rubbish. Could you PM me your email address and I'll send it across.
I'll just send the first chapter so as not to overwhelm you completely !
Thank you so much Tunip for your feedback - have emailed you as well.
The website where you can put stuff and get feedback is www.writersdoc.co.uk apparently you need to provide a certain level of feedback per month and in return people will review your input.
I haven't put mine there
because I'm frightened because as it's Mills and Boons I was worried people might try to read it from a more literary perspective, but thought it might be helpful for people to see.
My rewrite is a disaster. I'm trying to write it better and have just ended up over-writing it, which is not usually something I do. I'm just trying too damn hard. I don't know how to let go a bit.
No, no Tunip. Your re-write is not a disaster. You're learning how to re-write, which is harder than drafting. Seriously. (Luckily this is my second novel that's got as far as re-writing, and so I knew it would be awful.)
a) go to a good creative writing course that will focus on appropriate skills
b) buy te book that someone recommended me on the 2012 write a novel thread
c) if you like, send me a few pages of the original and how you've re-written it and I'll try and help out.
Was that Self-Editing For Fiction Writers? I have read that one (and it is excellent).
I spent a lot of Christmas working through various creative writing books and doing some of the exercises. I think maybe I've taken in so much stuff that when I write I'm so busy trying to remember it all I forget about the story I want to tell. Or I focus so much on how I'm telling the story I can't just get on and tell it.
Ah yes, that's the book.
Maybe you just have to work through this stage? It's like ballet or playing the piano - keep going, and you'll come out the other end able to put all these things into place automatically.
That is a good analogy, thank you.
I think with the first draft it's very liberating when you keep telling yourself it doesn't matter if it isn't very good because it's only a first draft. That's why NaNoWriMo is so productive. I need to try and tell myself something similar about the second draft, I suppose!
Right, I've finished the first draft of my travel book , which I plan to self publish as an ebook.
I have got a number of photos I'd like to include with the book. At what point do I start saying where they should go? Now? There is a lot of work to do on the text, maybe photos are just going to distract me from the horrific amount of work I have yet to do?
Can I join please? I'm at around 62,000 words too and have been working on this project since last May (ish.) Probably a lot of it will go. The characters reveal more of themselves as I write, driving the plot in different directions. Then I have to go back and sharpen everything up. Plus initially I was going back and forth chronologically and am gradually writing that out. It feels like a lot to do right now.
I find it difficult to edit on screen too; I always have, except for short pieces (used to be a journalist.) Right now I'm going over this draft as much as possible before pressing the print button on 100+ pages.
I have a DS 6 at school and a DS 3 in part-time nursery. Strangely I find myself most productive at night though when I know I'll get a long uninterrupted stretch. No sooner have I dropped DS2 off then it seems I have to go and collect him again!
Hope everyone else is getting some work done.
Hello - may I join?
I have a largely written novel which I'm editing, then editing some more, and then editing some more. It's the motivation to keep going and finding the time to do it at the moment.
I have around 46k words (which is a bit too short for a novel) so need to add some more quality writing (not just any old crap to get the word count up, like I did at university). One thing is that it's kind of two parallel stories, so I've just "extracted" the bits on the second story and am reviewing that at the moment, with a view to fleshing it out.
I had originally planned to finish it by the end of Jan, so I'll see how I got. The pressure's on.
Oh yes, and for those who have finished an edit, how many words did you end up with compared to the number you started with?
FiveHoursSleep - I would probably leave the photos till you need a break from the hard work.
Hello Camgirl and Absy.
For this one, I have to finish it. I have to. I think it has the potential to be a good story, it's just I've been writing it
for 10 years for a while. I work full time now, and for a lot of the time between starting and now I've been working FT + studying PT, so had no spare headspace or time. Now I do. there's one chapter I wrote a few years ago, in an afternoon, which I love. I wish I could get into the mindset again and write another chapter like that.
Though, having written it over that long helps me to be more objective (I can get emotionally attached to some writing) and happier to cut stuff which is rubbish
Yes you must definitely finish it Absy!
It's funny looking back at good stuff you wrote that came out easily. If only it could always be like that....
I think I am back on track after my tantrum. I've gone through the stuff I had rewritten over the last painful fortnight and cut most of it again. There were lots of paragraphs of description. It speeds up nicely when I reduce each one to a sentence or less. And plenty of adjectives have gone too and I feel more like myself again.
I think one thing I have realised is that although the first draft was crap in most ways, I was writing very fast and therefore instinctively and at a chapter level my instincts about rhythm and pace were quite ok. Hence when I rewrote it felt worse than my first version. But ultimately, if I can keep the rhythm and pace of the first version while chucking in a very small amount of descriptive writing (and doing stuff like using more interesting verbs rather than adverbs and shit) I can come up with something that is more alive than my rather thin first draft but moves along at a decent pace.
Grendel, thank you for offering to look at my problematic paras for me. I was on the verge of sending them to you this morning when I realised I could actually see what I needed to do and it was really quite straightforward so I didn't need to after all!
Hope yours is going well.
Hello TunipTheVegedude Thank you for the welcome.
I'm plugging away .. I'm hoping to reach 70,000 before editing and nearly there. Exhausted though and not looking forward to school run in the ice tomorrow!
"If only it could always be like that...."
I hear you. I was trying to write last night and it was hideous. It was "the cat sat on the mat" level of literature. It sucked.
Absy have you seen this?
For the one awesome chapter, I wrote it just after a bad break up. I don't think I can do that again, just to get another good chapter. <sigh>
some of the later chapters as well, there's some really good bits, and Iwonder how much of that is down to less interference from me now (I've edited the first chapter around 10 times. I think I should leave it alone).
LOL, I used to write my best stuff after break-ups too. Perhaps it's a sort of writing equivalent of getting a great haircut and buying some nice clothes.
Absy I find that my first few chapters have been edited loads of times but the later chapters not so much - I decided to submit because I'm not sure how much more I could do to the first three. I'll have rather a lot of work to do if they want to see the rest.
It's really hard because from a linear perspective it has to make sense from the start therefore naturally that takes up time.
I'm going to try to be disciplined and dip in from the middle.
Well, I had a good writing night last night. DH decided to go to bed early (another reason why I can't do a break up to get some good chapters - it would involve divorce, and I like him, it so wouldn't be worth it) so I had a good 2 hours (apart from word losing my edits first time around ) of solid writing/editing time, and it was amazing. I went for the end chapters, and they're looking really good now. I need another night like that to sort out the beginning.
Great stuff Absy!
My evening was pretty good too. I realised a connection between a key scene and something that happened in the heroine's past that she is going to need to flashback to. So I was able to 1. prefigure the flashback and make the reader curious about it, and 2. add some more emotional tension to the scene itself.
I think beginnings are always going to need more editing than middles because they have to do so much work in grabbing you and setting things up. You can't get away with a line out of place. Whereas later on you have more flexibility in when things get mentioned.
Good news Absy and Tunip sound like both of your books are shaping up well. I'd love to see anyone elses writing if you would like any feedback.
I must admit to doing a bit of cheating. I have put my manuscript to one side and am starting to write something new. It's so wonderful to be at the start of the journey again but with hopefully a wee bit more experience from the previous time.
I plan to spend 6-8 weeks on a first draft for this - due the shorter length of the romance novels they take less time to write. Then I'm going to go back to the other one and start doing a proper edit.
Probably not the prescripted way of doing things, but I was losing the joy of writing with the initial one so hopefully a bit of time and distance will help me to get back into the editing.
Either that or I will end up with a lot of first draft novels and we all know how useful those are!
I don't know that it's cheating. Several of the things I have read about editing say that starting something new is one way to get some distance between you and the initial piece of writing, so you can come back to it fresh.
Indeed Tunip - I'm hoping that's the case for me. Having fun with the new one in any case. I feel I have more idea now about how much plot I need to sustain the length although I suspect this time it might be too long rather than too short.
I went to another good workshop this week - Voice and Viewpoint by Nicola Morgan. So lucky to have a resource near by that offers these evening sessions - although it does get rather pricey.
Nicola Morgan's blog and her 'Write to be published' book are very good.
I'm glad you're having fun with the new one. Sometimes I wonder how I will handle the whole submitting/rejection process when I get to it, having worked so much harder at this than at anything else I have ever submitted anywhere, but hopefully I'll be enjoying writing the next one, having learnt what I've learnt from the process of doing this one, and will be able to focus on that.
Tunip at the end of our creative writing course, on the last week our tutor asked about our publishing ambitions.
There was one young man on our course who was truly brilliant. Some of his work was overly experimental for my run of the mill tastes, but he wrote a number of remarkably moving pieces. When asked about being published he said that he felt he wasn't a great writer and wanted to wait for a number of years before he had the experience to produce something great. That made me sad because I could tell that it was unlikely that he would ever get to that level in his own mind.
I guess what I'm trying to say probably quite cack handedly is that we will always be our own worst critics and I suspect that sometimes the authors that end up being published may not always be the most talented, but will be the most tenacious.
Starting the next one does seem to help with the level of detachment. Although I'm kind of wishing now that I had let the first one simmer for a bit rather than rushing it in.
Marking place. On draft 5 of novel. Momentum flagging still from the long holidays but need to keep going! Will be back on Monday...
Nice to see you BsshBossh!
Rookie, that's interesting about the talented writer in your class. Imagine thinking you had to write something 'truly great' for it to be worth doing! I have known people whose talent I envied but who never wrote anything substantial because either they chucked things away as not good enough, or they sat around 'waiting for inspiration'
Hilary Mantel said in an interview (which I have pinned to my wall) that for her, the thing to do is not to worry about critics or posterity but just solve the day's problems - 'you just try to make it work for ten minutes and then build on that'.
I'm sure you're right about tenacity. When I was an undergraduate dreaming of being an academic and worrying about not being clever enough a woman academic who was a few years further down the line than me said that it was interesting to see who out of her contemporaries had landed the academic jobs: it wasn't the ones who had seemed most brilliant, or the ones who had won particular prizes or got the highest firsts, it was the ones who had stuck around, doing bits and pieces of work while keeping applying for things rather than chucking it in and going off to be a civil servant. Same must apply to writing. Hilary Mantel again: she wrote that massive book about the French Revolution but was told by publishers that people didn't want to read historical romance. So she went away and wrote a contemporary novel.
Oh I love that "you just try to make it work for ten minutes and then build on" quote. Because I have no deadline to complete this (or any) draft of my novel, I find it easier to not sit down at my desk and resume editing. But if I tell myself that I just have to make it work for ten minutes then this might be enough to get cracking! Will try it tomorrow and report back here. I haven't touched this (5th) draft since before Christmas...
"Anyone well and truly fed up with their characters?" - Sorry am late in responding to this theoriginal. Only just discovered this thread! I'm finding the opposite of this, luckily. 5th draft in and with each re-write I discover new layers to each of my three main characters. They intensify, somehow. I admit, this is a good place to be so far along... I've been working, on and off, on my book for 2 years.
Good news BsshBossh your characters clearly have a lot more inner depth than mine !
My new heroine is shaping up nicely though as there's a bit more of me in her. It's fun being young again even if it's only through a character.
Would it work bb to give yourself a deadline? Perhaps by Easter to get the draft finished. I find that I need to work in half hour spurts. If I have full days with no DS, which I had a few of at Christmas time I don't really achieve much more than if I time block out two half hours.
My most productive times were one day when it was rainy on holiday and I sat with a mug of tea in the soft play and managed to churn out about 3000 words over the space of an afternoon as no internet. Also for some reason I always seem quite inspired at the gym cafe after a workout. Sadly typing it up later is the time consuming and tedious bit.
Hello. Well, using Hilary Mantel's 10 minute rule, I actually managed 2 hours editing work today. I told myself that I only need to sit down for 10 minutes and this was all it took to get lost in my book again. So a massie thank you to Hilary and to Tunip .
As I've mentioned, this is my 5th draft. Previous drafts have been edited sequentially or chronologically but I'm doing it a bit differently with this draft and editing per character. All my scenes are separated out in Scrivener and tagged according to character name (3 main characters) so it's pretty easy to jump to a single character's scenes in each chapter. Consistency of character personality, backstory, motivations, way of speaking etc are key for this edit.
I'm two characters down. Today I started editing for the third and final character. She has 59 scenes in total (it's a 100K word novel) and I'm hoping to take 3 weeks.
Accountability is my major motivation at the moment so, if you don't mind, I'll check in here after each day's work with scene count.
Yay BsshBossh! I'm so glad Mantel's 10 minutes worked for you.
I also love the bit about solving the day's problems. When I started writing, if I ran up against problems I assumed it was because I wasn't good enough, or the thing I was writing wasn't going to work out. It makes it very easy to give up. Whereas if you see the writing as a process of solving a succession of problems in order to arrive at the thing you want, nothing feels insurmountable.
What are you going to do when you finish editing the third character?
I've been setting myself targets on Scrivener today. I'm a bit loath to get too obsessed with word count in case I rush too much and end up writing another version that is different but not necessarily much better than the first, but equally I've got a lot of gaps to fill in where I've taken bits out of the first draft so some of it is actually a first attempt at particular scenes.
I did just over 2000 words today (bringing me up to 13500).
What are you going to do when you finish editing the third character? I'm going to run through the entire novel as a whole once more. It may be the final draft... but we'll see. My DH is my beta reader - he reads loads of literary fiction eg Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, Paul Auster - and is quite critical and objective. So he'll read the next draft and then I'll decide whether to submit to an agent...
How is everyone?
Today my project is feeling quixotic.
Should have done something easier, it's going to take about a million drafts to get right!
Oh well <carries on>.
BsshBossh - v handy that your dh reads the genre you are writing in. Mine doesn't but luckily I have lots of friends who do. YA has changed so much in the last 20 years.
Another 2 hours editing work completed today - 4 scenes down, 55 to go. I could have done another hour to be honest, but faffed around with... oh you know: sleep, childcare, work - the usual impediments to creativity .
I've done 1000 words (rewrote a scene 3 times).
After the second time I had to watch the Meg Rosoff 'secret of successful writing' animation for motivation.
Sounds like you are getting into yours - only 2 more scenes and it will be over 10%!
Only one scene edited today (so 54 to go). Got totally distracted by a diet thread on Mumsnet and now have to work. Grrrrr, why is Mumsnet so addictive and distracting!
I've been lucky, ds2 got whisked off on an impromptu playdate so I've had an extra 3 hours.
I've done 2000 today (nearly at 18000). One scene I was rewriting mysteriously changed from being all serious and earnest in the first version, to the characters shrieking with laughter in the new version. This rewriting business is most peculiar.
Good work Tunip and what a lucky break re DS's playdate. I love how your scene changed tone from serious to fun
Well work beckons today and tomorrow so I doubt any editing will get done now. So I will say goodbye and see you on Monday!
Hope you have a good weekend.
I'm on 20k now.
I'm onto Act 2! This means that Act 1 is 23k instead of the 15-20 it should be, but I daresay cutting between 3 and 8k words will only improve it.
I'm struggling to write today. Had to take the whole weekend off because dh away, and finding it hard to get back into it.
Anyone else have progress reports?
14 scenes edited today. I must have recharged my editing batteries after all those days off.
You'll get back in the saddle again, Tunip.
Yay! That is mega progress.
I've done 500 words now. Not great but not nothing either.
500 is definitely better than 0 so good work!
Hiya. Only three scenes edited today but one of those involved a lot of rewriting so I'm happy with what I achieved today.
It perked up a bit after I posted yesterday. Not much time today but I used it fairly well - am on 27k now
Four scenes edited today - one of them requiring extra research and rewriting, so once again am happy. I write in the morning after DD goes to school and before other things get in the way but I need to get into the habit of writing after she goes to bed too. It's not even that I'm tired by then. I spend too much time on Mumsnet I'm afraid!
Anyway, well done Tunip on the 27K.
Is it just you and me here? Any lurkers willing to come out and say Hi?!
Well done on your 4 scenes!
I do find it helps a lot if I write in the evenings too. It's not just the extra time in the evening, it's that it makes it easier to get into it the next morning.
I've reached 30k, which I am counting as halfway, so feeling quite celebratory.
<waves to lurkers in the hope they haven't already been bored to death by all the wordcount posts>
Hey, I've reached halfway point (today) too Four more scenes completed today. I am on target to complete this draft (no. 5) in two weeks.
Next steps will be to then 1. Re-read entire novel (again!) 2. Actually complete the last two chapters (still half-written through all 5 drafts in case anything in the novel changed).
Brilliant, well done!
I did about 800 words this morning then encountered a plot problem. I've telescoped events in the first draft together to make it more exciting, but this means that someone goes to London, gets tried for treason and comes back again in the space of a few days, which is not really on in 1537
I'm now weighing up the various options for what to do with my heroine while this is happening.
Hi Tunip, your plot digression sounds exciting! No editing work for me now until next week as real life beckons Have a good weekend and see you on Monday.
Have a nice weekend BsshBossh.
My problem is nicely sorted and I am on 35.5k, so am storming through, though it's half term next week so I'll only have evenings to work in.
Am in awe at you all. I have a story it was my disatation for my degree its only 9k long lots of people have read it said i should expand it but no way could i do 40k so maybe thinking of a novelle. any thoughts on this would be welcome.
You should just go for it Starsandunicorns It's so much fun.
No Plot, No Problem is supposed to be a good book about how to get going though I haven't read it myself.
Becoming a Writer is a very much loved book (from 1934!) that says a lot of sensible things, not least, a writer is just someone who writes; if you want to do it, you need to organise your life so that you will have time and space to write in.
There's a 'starting to write a novel' thread you could join, too.
Hello! Stars I would just crack on with it, a little at a time - a hundred words here, a hundred there. Set a timer and say you'll just write for 10 mins - you'll most likely find yourself writing for longer. When I was stuck a few years ago I joined the 2011/12 writing a novel threads and made myself accountable by posting daily word counts.
Anyway, I won't get much if any writing done this week because we've got building work going on in the house. Half term's my best bet as DD is booked into a week long drama club . So will post back at half term.
Happy writing and editing both of you (and lurkers).0
I don't know if it was someone here who recommended it but I'm half way through Stephen Kings "On Writing". It's a tremendous book and it's giving me much more of a clue about what I actually need to do in editing - also helpful for writing too, he has a very workman like approach.
I had a thorough review in the car on the way home from Center Parcs ( and made myself car sick in the process) and based on his advice have been doing a lot of cutting out.Good job I'm actively trying to reduce the numbers rather than increase
How was Centreparks?
It was me that recommended the Stephen King book. I loved it. I like the bit where he says actually it wouldn't be that great to be in a writer's retreat with no distractions because you'd just get blocked and it's better to have real life impinging from time to time because it reminds you writing isn't the be all and end all.
Very reassuring when you are trying to write with 3 kids in the house....
Hi Tunip CP was great, DH threw himself into activities with DS so we had an action packed time with friends. Very little writing though as we were busy all the time. I toyed with giving my manuscript to my friends to read, but one was researching for an interview and then we weren't there that long... more random mundane excuses.....
Yes I like the way SK is very matter of fact about things and says 1000 words a day minimum (gulp). Have done very little lately with all my fannying about with editing. But I can see now what I think needs to be done, so I'm going to type up the changes and have another look.
Sounds like your editing is going well?
Right, must finally read that Stephen King writing book. It's been queued in my Kindle for over a year! I'll read it in lieu of getting any editing done to keep my hand in .
sob, my house is a mess of builders' dust
You could skip the biographical section and just read the craft bit.
Glad it was fun Rookie! I wouldn't give a manuscript to a friend to read unless they were really keen.
Half term today so no writing time Otherwise it's been going well; the second half needs a lot less reorganisation than the first and there aren't any more bits to fill in from scratch, just existing scenes to improve, so I'm hopeful it will be a lot faster than the first half.
Bssh - I must confess I wasn't keen to start it - something to do with the worthy title I think.
But I loved it. I found the autobiographical part really inspiring - nice to know that Stephen King started with a bundle of rejections and almost didn't write Carrie. It's definitely got me back to the story as before I must admit I wasn't too sure what I was meant to be editing for.
Now all I need to do is to save everything in the right format, rewrite the synopsis to the new required length and redo my rather embarassing covering letter.
His attitude to rejections was great wasn't it?
With these people who've had massive success apparently quite early on, it's reassuring (as well as inspiring) to see how long and hard they've been working before they get to that point. He was evidently taking a very hardheaded and professional approach to submitting work when he was still a teenager.
I like the bit where he meets his wife and realises they have a similar attitude to crafting their writing, even though he writes horror and she writes poetry.
Actually maybe you shouldn't skip the autobiographical bits!
40k. Getting exciting.
Hows it going everyone? I'm veering between editing and writing the new one - means I have good excuses for not really progressing either !
45k, but it's been half term so I haven't had much time.
I just got a new book from Amazon about Tudor costume which has photos of people in seriously well-researched replica costume and I'm gazing in awe at the photos, they seem like real Tudors come to life.
How's it going? I'm struggling to get back into it again. I hate having to stop.
Not well, wrote 300 words at the weekend, seem to be a bit lacking in motivation at the minute and I have a bit of a cold so mumsnetting much more appealing than writing
Mine's still not going very well and I am losing my writing day tomorrow with doctor and dentist appointments, damn it!
Editing is hard work because you really need to be at the computer to make changes.
I've found that with writing I get so much more done outside the house as I have less distractions - it's a pain having to type it into the computer afterwards but it doesn't take as much concentration.
Have made some progress I did a few pages last night and this morning so I'm feeling more positive again - my enthusiasm comes in bursts and I'm beginning to realise that sometimes taking a break isn't the worst thing I can do, provided I get back to it fairly quickly, if that makes sense at all.
Really glad it's going better for you.
Do you have a good computer workspace? I don't find it hard work to be at the computer particularly but then I do have an lovely teeny little office in the loft conversion which is probably my favourite place in the house.
This sounds really pathetic but I think part of my problem has been that I've been reading 'Revolution' by Jennifer Donnelly and it's just so good it feels like something I could never even aspire to so every time I go from that back to my own work all I can see are my deficiences. Then today at the bus-stop I started on something by a different author which is fine and was well-reviewed but doesn't seem so unachievable IYSWIM.
Also read Aristotle's Poetics last night which made me laugh - quite a bit of it is exactly the same as the stuff they put in creative writing textbooks to this very day.
The computer area is fine, we have a study but I just find that I work better on paper. I think typing in front of a computer makes it too easy for me to be in constant edit mode whereas with actual writing it flows more readily iyswim. The time spent typing isn't truly wasted as I use it to do a small amount of editing.
Even when editing it only started to make sense when I followed the Stephen King instructions and printed out the manuscripts to make amends. I'm probably an old luddite, I must admit I don't enjoy reading books on my kindle as much as a paperback, particularly the new Kindle Fire that DH kindly got me for Christmas. It's just another outlet for mumsnetting, like I needed another one of those to distract me !
I know what you mean about reading other authors and worrying if I am any good. The difference between us Tunip is that you have confirmation that you can write. You have had two sets of agents/publishers interested in what you have written - so keep going I'm sure your book will be excellent.
Do you think you will meet your aim to have a version ready for viewing by Easter?
Sorry if I sounded a bit too directive there ....
Thanks Rookie x
Yes, it will still be ready for the first round of beta readers by Easter. It's got to be, frankly. If I'm very unhappy with it I'll send it to fewer people, though.
I know what you mean about writing flowing more easily on paper. You delete less and there's the satisfaction of seeing the ink scrolling across the page and the pages getting filled.
Right, I'm back again. I'm re-editing <sigh> again the first chapter, but after moving some stuff around I think it makes more sense. I've also written at the top of the chapter what I hope to achieve from it, which I knew before but now it seems more focused. I'm also getting ruthless.
Hopefully will get first three chapters perfect (the rest is okay) then send them out! But first I need to get DH to read the novel, get his views (his initial views were very heklpful) and then do the really terrifying bit ... sending it out.
Well done Absy, I'm sure the re-editing will have been worth the effort.
Has anyone read it apart from your dh?
I'm nearly at 50k and it's gone better today and I've added a shiny new scene as well as rewriting another one for the 1000000th (well, 4th or 5th) time.
I've cheered myself up by googling agent wishlists and also joining the Absolute Write forum and observing that:
1. lots of agents are looking for straight historical YA
2. hardly anyone else seems to be writing it.
As long as they're still looking for it in the 6 months or so it will take me to finish this....
Hi folks, Just logging in to say that I am still going! Things are going slowly but, I hope, reasonably well.
Tunip - I'm still up for beta reading at Easter. It will make a nice change from workin on my own.
Having looked at various agents' websites, I'm actually planning to get my whole novel pretty well polished before sending it out again. Things seem to move faster now that a lot of MSS are sent by email, and I'm concerned that someone might come back from the 3 chapters and ask for the rest, which isn't up to scratch.
Great to see you GrendelsMum - I was thinking of sending you a PM to ask how it was going but didn't want to seem too stalky!
I agree re polishing the whole thing before sending out 3 chapters - I would definitely do that. I think it needs to be ready to go the same day. I'd be worried I'd panic and get blocked if I had an agent expressing interest and had to work on something fast.
Thanks for saying you're still up for beta reading. I'm on schedule to get it done - I'm 3k from the end now so I'll have 3 weeks or so to go back over and fix all the other things I've noticed.
The language is still going to feel a little unpolished, even by that stage, but it is really getting to the point where I need people to tell me how the story as a whole is coming across.
Well done Tunip, Grendelsmum and Absy, sounds like you are making good progress.
I have sent off my revised version to Carina, hopefully it meets all of their complex submission requirements. I find it takes me a fair few hours to get everything formatted into the correct version. The good news is that as it's a seasonal collection I should
get my rejection hear by the end of March.
It's slow going on the new manuscript. I'm down to forcing myself to do 300 words a day and then hoping I get inspired to do more. It's because when I started the other one I was on parental leave for a few weeks over Christmas so I had a lot more thinking and writing time.
By the way - one for Scrivener users.
I was very excited to discover that you can export directly into .epub format and the Kindle format, so that you can make it available for beta readers on the Kindle. It took about 5 mins for my DH to get my novel on his Kindle, not that he's read much of it yet.
Just hit the last full stop on Phase 1 of the second draft. It's nearly 68k. I've told dh that if I get run over by a bus tomorrow he's to hire a professional editor and vanity publish it.
Phase 2 will be the bit where I add in all the things I thought of while writing this draft, to make it as good as it can be before it goes to beta readers.
That's great that the epub files are so easy GrendelsMum. I love Scrivener so much. Really, really glad I got it.
Well done Rookie. You are now one of those proper people who has one out on submission and another one you're working on! I'm sure if you stick to the forcing it will start to flow again soon.
Tunip - Great- does that mean it's ready for Beta reading?
And very hearty congratulations to Rookie!
Nearly. Just got to add some extra stuff, do a read-through and work out where to divide the chapters.
I'm looking forward to reading it - it sounds like just the kind of thing I enjoy.
Thanks Tunip. I'm definitely stuck at the minute plus they changed the submission date on the piece I have entered so I have longer to wait
for the rejection so any good thoughts help.
I'd love to read your draft as well.
Tunip, I was interested to see you are going to sort out the chapters now. Don't you do that as you go along? When you plan your book, do you plan it in sections?
ImperialBlether - This is a guess, but Tunip is also using Scrivener to write, which encourages you to put your writing into 'scenes' rather than chapters for flexibility at an earlier point. You then organise your scenes into chapters.
From my own experience, it turns out that deciding what goes into a chapter is not nearly as easy as I'd anticipated. You want them to be roughly even in size, or if not even, uneven for a reason. They need to start well and finish well. They need to be in the right order. My DH is re-reading my novel and thinks I have too many chapters.
It just goes on and on...
ImperialBlether, I've been floundering around with planning. It's the first time I've ever really revised properly. So this is what happened, but it isn't a method I would recommend:
-I wrote the whole thing in Word, as a NaNo, in chapters, with minimal planning because I didn't really know what was going to happen. It was clear the plot needed work.
-I read loads of stuff about formal plotting structures and replotted it using a 5 act structure, cutting it into scenes and forming them into acts, to keep the 5 act structure in my mind, then cut and pasted the scenes onto Scrivener and rewrote the draft from the beginning.
I have no idea now whether it will go easily into chapters or whether I'll discover a whole new load of problems as a result of not having planned the chapters from the beginning!
Rookie - thanks, that would be great.
Tunip - if putting it into chapters turns out to be unexpectedly time-consuming, you have my full sympathy!
Hello. <twists foot whilst looking at the floor> Can I join you? I wrote a book last autumn and I'm working on a sequel for the simple reason that I love my narrator and her family so much I'm not ready to let her go yet. Sent the first book out to six agents a few weeks ago and have had one rejection and one pre-rejection (email acknowledgement saying if I don't hear from them after eight weeks to accept that they're not that into me).
Arrgh I wrote a response but my computer crashed.
This is how I do it.
When I get the idea for a novel, I usually know whose POV I'll write in. I then start to write a timeline. This can take a while, obviously. Once I've got that, I decide whether I'm going to write in chronological order, or play around with time.
I then write a page per chapter and on that page I'll make a note of the start of the chapter, the end of it, and usually three scenes that will take place within the chapter. Sometimes it's not three, but it's never more.
There are times in the year when I can't write properly, eg when I'm marking loads of coursework. The above exercise is good, then, as I can add bits to it whenever I think of something. The plot and characters will be on my mind all the time and just hearing part of a song or seeing an expression on someone's face will give me something to add to the notes.
I then write the whole thing as fast as I can. I know exactly what'll happen in each chapter, so I don't have to do my usual thing of sitting staring into space, waiting for inspiration. Once it's written I go over it again and again, knocking it into shape.
Wish me luck - I'm at the timeline point once more and I only know a bit of what will happen in this new book.
Sad-eyed, that's not a pre-rejection! Send it to as many as you can, but make sure it's the sort of book they like to read otherwise you're wasting your time and theirs. Best of luck!
Sadeyed, are you absolutely positive it's as good as you can make it?
Tell me to shut up if I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here, but a lot of people make the mistake at first of not appreciating how much their books could be improved by getting feedback and redrafting. I never used to understand how deep the process of rewriting could go and I've only recently learnt how many drafts successful writers often go through before they consider a book finished. (I cringe at what state I submitted my last one in - it was only after I'd had a load of rejections, when a very experienced friend was kind enough to tell me exactly what fundamental but ultimately fixable things were wrong with it that I really got what was meant by revision.) Apologies if you knew all this stuff, I just wondered if you had really had time to get it ready for submission if you wrote it in the autumn?
Imperial, that makes a lot more sense than doing it the way I did! I think my next book will be better planned from the start.
I hadn't 'learnt' creative writing at all before I wrote my last novel, or the first draft of this one. I thought I knew how to write because I had published a couple of stories and read a 'Teach Yourself Novel Writing' book that was SO basic I didn't get anything out of it - this was arrogance, basically, but also buying into the pernicious idea that writing is all about talent and can't be taught.
Hopefully next time, having assimilated the formal plot structure stuff, I will be in a better position to plan the story properly before I start if I can.
Aww, my dh has just done something lovely. He rang me about something else and I panicked at him about the fact that I couldn't find a reference for a historical event that is crucial to my plot (all the important people in Yorkshire being made to come and watch the execution of Robert Aske) and I needed him to get some books out of the library for me again so I could see if it was in one of them. I was worrying I might have imagined it. Anyway he rang me back 10 minutes later with a reference from Google Scholar . And I hadn't made it up, it was all true.
Oh good. I must say I'm looking forward to reading it.
Can anyone share some ideas or tips with me regarding keeping the tension and pace going at the end of my novel?
I have my characters locked in a prison cell for 6 chapters, and to be honest, things flag.
They make an escape attept, one of them is dragged off for sinister purposes, and they have some tense conversations. But ultimately its 4 people in one place, not doing anything all that much.
What to do? Have them spend less time in a prison cell? (But I need them to get through a certain number of explanations about what's going on.) Have more drama in a cell (but I've tried to put drama in)?
Thoughts really gratefully received!
My DH suggested that I could have first one of the other prisoners dragged out for sinister purposes, then my main character dragged out, she could see someothing dramatic (e.g. her best friend also imprisoned and dying), struggle, be overwhelmed by guards, be dragged back into her cell, etc. ...
Think laterally - dreams or flashbacks to vary things a bit?
Or more narrative summary rather than real-time narration so you get through the time a bit faster?
Or can you feed in any of the explanation earlier so there's less to get through, or so it can be a quick-putting-together-of-jigsaw-pieces rather than a fuller explanation?
Rookie/GrendelsMum - I'm doing final formatting then will do a quick read-through tomorrow to make sure all the pages are there and there are no egregious errors, then can send it to you tomorrow.
Would you like a paper copy, a Word doc, Open Office, or epub for Kindle? (Open Office is my default but I don't think it's hard to save as a Word doc.) If I do Kindle I'm not sure if it can go to your normal email address or if it has to go directly to your Kindle email.
Thanks so much for offering to read it!
I can definitely read Open Office, but if you send me it as an epub as well, I can try reading it on the iPad which might be easier reading.
Very much looking forward to it!
Great, looking forward to it.
Kindle would be best for me, but I'm not sure what my email address for kindle is if I have a separate one?
I'm not sure about open office, I think it should work so if you try that way I'll let you know.
At last a legitimate excuse not to progress my own writing
I'm mid love scene at the minute so there's a lot of thrusting and heaving - it all gets a bit tiring.
Turns out Kindles need mobi, not epub, but that's fine, I have done it as both. (And it's sitting on my Kindle now! Yikes!) Am just working through emails now.
Oh smashing! So much looking forward to it...
Has anyone read 'Revising Fiction' by David Madden? I've ordered it after hearing it talked about fondly on American writing forums.
It is not for the faint-hearted. It has a list of questions that remind me of religious works where you have to examine the state of your soul (or that medieval list about whether you have fornicated on a Friday etc).
eg '16. Have you failed to imagine your style, line by line?
17. Does your style generally lack a sense of immediacy?
18. Does your style fail to work upon all of the readers senses?
19. Have you failed to make your style as clear, concrete, and simple as the various contexts demand?
20. Is your style literal more often than it is suggestive?
21. Do you tell your reader when to show would be more effective?
22. Do you neglect to prepare contexts that will enable you to use the device of implication?
23. Do you fail to use the device of implication?'
full list here. I'm hoping the book itself will tell me the appropriate penance in each case.
Gosh, I can't help thinking that's quite funny.
Forgive me, reader, because my style is frequently more literal than it is suggestive.
It made me laugh hysterically but that's because of the all the Catholic stuff in my novel - it fits so perfectly.
I'm re-reading Browne & King now. The chapter on show'n'tell particularly
GrendelsMum did you find a solution to your flagging prison scene?
I hope I'm in the middle of a solution, through endless re-writing to increase pace, drama and tension! I'll let you know how it goes.
Would you be interested in re-reading it once I've finished this draft? I don't know if you'd find it interesting to see what I've changed?
I'd love to!
I feel like I'm just learning to critique, tbh, and it would be a learning experience for me to see it - as well as interesting, because I loved the book and would like to see how it has developed.
Well, I'd be interested to see what you're planning to do to the boring sod your poor heroine ends up with!
Oh well all my other readers think he is simply fascinating.
I don't know yet. I will think of something. I'll have interestingness surgically implanted into him using primitive surgical techniques.
DH and I were discussing him - as you do - and we did agree that possibly dull but nice, reliable and kind is exactly what she's looking for after the appalling traumas she's been through over the course of the novel.
And they do have a sexy moment under the waterfall...
I love that you're discussing my character!
I think that's exactly right - I turned him into what she wants and needs at that point. But that results in a bundle of quite dull characteristics.
Anyway he's not particularly three dimensional. I'm in absolutely no doubt that it would be a stronger book if Will was more fully developed.
Look what I've bought to deal with all that pesky telling-not-showing of emotions I've been doing.
<Bssh sidles back in completely at long absence>
What a busy tread Been away (from writing desk) but back on Monday, promise.
<settles in to read thread>
Welcome back, Bssh.
'The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne,
Th' assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge.'
Tentatively jumping on. I wrote 50k for Nano 2012 (was aon the nano thread on here) and said I would revisit after Christmas but the last 3 months have passed in a haze of wintry darkness, flu and d&v in our household. Easter holidays next week so I am hoping (after I get my moderation sample off this week) I will be able to do start editing.
Where to start? I guess I need to re-read in one go first of all and see where I go from there.
Lots of great tips and recommendations for websites and books on this thread.
Looking forward to editing with you all!
Great to see you, Engelsemama!
I had that last year - I was on a roll with writing and then just had week after week when everyone was ill. This time round my kids have all been enormously considerate and waited till the gaps between drafts to get ill, when I can't work on it anyway. At least you will have the advantage of plenty of distance from your draft.
I hope you enjoy rewriting. I've been amazed how much fun it is. I may in fact even prefer it to doing the first draft.
Reading Sol Stein's 'On Writing' at the moment. Really recommend it - it's full of insights.
Gosh, that's a cracker from Chaucer. Nice to know he felt it too!
I'm 6 scenes away from finishing Draft 6 of my novel. Am trying to finish it before Wednesday afternoon when my DD finishes school for the Easter holidays. Then my plan is to work on the 7th draft (^eeeeekkkk^) after Easter hols. Hopefully, this far along, the 7th will be a quick draft, tweaking here and there only. But we'll see.
Draft 6? no, Draft 5 I mean. Oh lordy, I've lost count. Who cares really, I'm editing and I'm writing - hurrah!
Bssh, how do you manage to still see it after so many drafts? How do you avoid being too close to it?
After my 2 drafts I simply didn't have any distance on mine. Now I have notes from beta readers I can see what I will have to do in draft 3, but where do you go after that? Do you just keep sending it to beta readers after every draft?
Tunip I'm actually quite objective about it now I've been working on it for nearly 2 years. But I also give myself a few weeks gap between drafts which helps. No idea really, I just seem to be a little detached from it now...
Thanks Bssh. Maybe it will come with time then!
Hope you've had a good day's editing.
Finished!!!! Just in time for my DD to break up for the holidays in 2 hours. HUrrah! Will now take a complete 2.5 week break then resume on the 15th April with another edit/draft/read through.
Well done, BsshBossh! Great to have completed your revisions.
Things are going less well here, and I'm feeling thoroughly in tune with Chaucer - the craft so longe to lerne, Th' assay so hard. Really just 'th'assay so hard' at the moment.
It would be so much easier such to sit back and read other people's books, wouldn't it?
Right at the moment just feel a bit pissed off with the whole business of writing. Things got so bad this morning I seriously contemplated vaccuuming the sitting room instead of writing.
The problem is that in order to increase tension, I have my heroine being more and more clearly potentially violent, with the result that the guards who finally let her escape are now looking like idiots.
a) she tries to protect someone and gets hit by a guard for her pains. The guards then decide to drug her food a bit.
b) while undergoing forcible prison medication - which she tries to fight off - she sees someone she knows in prison and tries to communicate with them, which the guards try to prevent and a fight ensues
c) the guards take her for an interview with the prison governor and kindly leave her alone with him, at which point she attacks him and makes a break for it
It hardly gives you much confidence in the guards, does it?
Plus I have to convey the state of mind of someone who realises she has been betrayed by the institution she relied on to give her a sense of self-worth and purpose in life.
Tea, sympathy and solutions please, folk!
Just jumping aboard this thread coz I am kind of rewriting - kind of writing.
Grendels mum - how about she outwits them rather than outviolences them?
Eg forced prison medication - she saves(in her mouth) then um..gives it to the prison governer when left alone with him.
The fight could be between others - she could set it off somehow tho - so when she is in the governors office the guards, exasperated, have to run and sort it out. Or something!
I did think about the fight about being between others and the guards having to go and sort it out, but somehow it didnt feel true to the other characters and their situation.
My current plan is that she's so overwhelmed by seeing someone she knows in situation B that the guards restrain her easily. This means that when it gets onto situation C, they don't doubt that one person can deal with her.
I think your solution sounds good, GrendelsMum. I think when one plot point can be made to cause another it's just so much.... better.
Maybe a general technique can be extracted from this: when you reach a plot problem it's a good idea to go back over earlier scenes to see if a solution can grow out of anything that goes wrong earlier.
I mean, anything that happens earlier - don't know why I put 'goes wrong'.
How's everyone getting on? I have a huge list of things to do in my third draft but my children have been sick and I had 2 hours yesterday when dh looked after them but no time for weeks apart from that
It's a bit frustrating.
I'm back! I was looking for this thread in Adult Fiction, couldn't find it and freaked out, but now I found it.
So, DH has now read the book (after much pestering) and a) liked it and b) there were some edits that I'd done and Word hadn't saved, which he picked up, which is good, as it seems I'm on the right path OR we just think too much a like, but I'm looking for the positive. I just need to re-edit (AGAIN) the first three chapters and then .... send it off. [freaks out]. That is scaring me the most. Writing it is now looking like a piece of cake, sending it to agents etc. is scaring the life out of me. I am also reading a book which covers a similar theme and is AMAZING (but confusing) and I had another freak out, I just need to remind myself that this author won the Pulitzer and the Booker prize, so is kind of in a different league.
Well done on being ready to submit. I am dreading that stage. The thought of getting anxiety symptoms every time I check my email....
I know it's easy to say but I wouldn't worry too much about the similarities - there are probably differences in all kinds of things. Is it even aimed at the same market as the other one?
Reading really good books often freaks me out at first, then 2 things happen: I read another book that is crap and it cheers me up, and the first book becomes incorporated into my sense of what a good book is and gives me more to aim for and lifts the one I am working on.
I think reading other books is good - you just have to read critically which is tiring "do I like this? Why do I like this? What do I dislike about their style?", but then it is encouraging in a way as well. There's one book I read last year which so many people think is brilliant, and I agree, the first half is fabulous, but it loses pace towards the end. BUT it good published and won awards, so it can't be that bad. It's then applying that critical thinking to your own work, and finding the balance between thinking that everything you write is terrible, and everything is wonderful.
Bum. I am well on my way to becoming an official writer - I received my first official rejection today for the romance I sent in for the Christmas Collection at Carina.
It's not a huge surprise but I was hoping to get some feedback as that at least would suggest that it was not altogether rubbish.
I'm about 20k into another book, but I'm now wondering if romance is my thing if I'm any good at it. Plus it's been a bit of a fallow period, I was planning on writing on holiday but we were in Florida and whilst good it was exhausting so I haven't done much for a bit.
I was thinking once I gathered myself together, if anyone was kind enough to read through the full draft ( it's only 33k as it's a short romance) and put some questions together, would anyone be able to look at it?
I would be happy to read it - send it over.
Commiserations on the rejection. Can you send it to anyone else? It must be hard when you've targeted a specific publisher. At least with the normal thing of approaching lots of agents, a single rejection doesn't mean very much. Because honestly, you mustn't take one rejection too much to heart. You won't know if you're good at romance or not until you've tried a few and sent them out more than once.
your first rejection? you're on the way . You grow a very thick skin if you want to publish!
Thanks guys, I am very impatient. There is another publisher I can try with - they are looking for works under 30k - but then I think there is a lot to be edited .
Tunip that is a super offer I was hoping you would say that. I am going to take another look at it over the next few days to see if there are any drastic revisions I need to do before anyone else looks at it.
I was thinking some more about this, and what you could do if getting a few people to read it fails to shed any light. I came up with a few things, apologies if you've already done them:
1. See if there are any 'how to write romance' books out there that show you something obvious you're missing
2. Join AbsoluteWrite.com, which is a big writers' forum with a section on romance. This would be good for getting to know the market and also it has a 'share your work' section for mutual critiquing, so you would find people who write romance and thus know the genre much better to critique you
3. Absolutely do not even consider the possibility that you're not capable of writing romance but change your mindset to 'how do I become good at it?'
With romance, I've known several people over the years who think it's going to be a piece of cake to write a Mills and Boon and they don't take it seriously and give up when they don't immediately succeed. I don't get the impression you're in this category at all - the thing of yours I read was sincere, it absolutely wasn't writing by numbers.
Joining a forum and taking part in romance authors' chat will help you get to know the market and give you a better chance of understanding why you were rejected. It might be something that has nothing to do with the quality at all (maybe they published a cake shop one last year!)
Look forward to reading the rest!
Absy, the balance between confidence/self-criticism is interesting. There's a book called 'Bounce' by Matthew Syed, which is about how people succeed in sport, but something that applies to writing as well is the discussion of how, in order to succeed against the odds, you have to have a combination of enormous self-belief and the capacity to constantly take on board criticism and never stop trying to improve.
I've found that switching to a multiple revisions mindset has made the whole thing less stressful. Looking back, a lot of my enjoyment of writing in the past was undermined by my constant anxiety about whether it was any good. Now I have decided it's all about revising and revising, I don't have to worry for any given draft about whether it's good, because if it's crap I can make the next one better. Even getting feedback from readers was relatively stress-free, because I wasn't that bothered about any judgements they would make about whether it was good or bad, I just wanted to know how to make it better.
Of course when I come to submission the anxiety will kick in, but at least the majority of the writing time will have been about enjoying the process of improvement rather than worrying about whether it's any good.
Thank you so much Tunip for taking the time to come up with such detailed ideas. I'm absolutely going to follow through on the second one within the next couple of days.
I also agree with your other post. Writing has stopped being as much fun for me. I'm too focused on the outcome rather than the process, then I get disheartened as there is so much more work to do and luck to be had if I am ever to reach my dream goal of being a successful author.
I have decided to take a step back and do something completely different for a bit. I've decided to enter one of the short story competitions in my writing magazine as I can revise a story I have written before where the story is actually ok (I can say this with confidence as it's been critiqued through my wrtiting class) but it could do with a bit of revision.
I have plenty of time before it needs to be submitted - 14th June, so I can hopefully get some feedback on it before then.
Sorry for not participating in this lovely thread. I feel quite selfish about it.
But I have been working hard on my book. Have begun draft 6. DH printed it out so it looked like a book and it's amazing how that's helped envision the book. Looks like there are not that many changes to make. I'm re-reading 3 chapters a day in between my normal work so am aiming to be finished in a fortnight.
Bssh - hurrah for actually focusing on the writing instead of wasting time on the internet!
Good luck. Very exciting that you're so close to finishing!
Tunip has kindly and wonderfully read through my draft - I'm calling it a draft now rather than a book as it needs rather more work than I had anticipated but it's all good as it will make it stronger in the end.
Any thoughts about how to get people to read and provide constructive criticism?
I am strangely reluctant to give it to DH because he believes in calling a spade a spade and also his idea of a good read is an Andy McNab novel which from the long and detailed verbal summaries he thoughtfully provides on holiday when we have a quiet moment or ten, doesn't seem to be quite the genre I'm aiming for. He might be quite good on the grammar though.
Thought I would check in and say hello and see how people are getting on.
I have been doing an exam this week so no time for writing, but I dusted off my short story last night and came up with a better ending and I'm now reasonably happy with the bones of it, so feeling quite positive.
Glad it's going well.
I'm finding this third draft damn hard work. I seem to be spending ages changing very little. Maybe that's how it is - diminishing returns as you get through more drafts?
In terms of getting other people to read things, I have a group of friends who read things for each other - blogposts, essays, conference papers, job applications (quite a few of them are academics or doing degrees). I'm the only fiction writer in the group but several of the others are historians or read in my genre, so I have had a lot of help from them despite them not writing their own fiction.
WRT other fiction writers, I confess I have offered to read things for people secretly hoping they would offer to do the same for me, and they have, and it turns out I've learnt a lot from reading their stuff anyway. There is one person I am FB friends with who reads in my genre and writes and I've never done anything for her but I am just going to message her and beg when the time comes - she can only say no!
My dh has not yet been allowed to read it. He's negative about too many books that I love, so I don't think we'll be on the same page.
What kind of book is it, Tunip? I am really busy for the next few days but would be happy to read something after that. I've written three novels and am touting the agents at the moment. I've got an MA in Creative Writing, too (if that means a damn thing!)
Oh wow, ImperialBlether, thank you.
I don't need any readers at the moment (RookieMum might though?) because I'm still soldiering through my third draft with a view to finishing around the end of the summer term. If you have any free time then I would be extremely grateful but I understand if you don't.
It's young adult historical (teenagers caught up in the rebellion of the north against Henry VIII).
I'm currently fixing some major issues to do with the main character's motivation not being clear to start with and the love interest not being developed enough. Once I've done that I'll see where I stand with the other major issue which is the beginning being too slow.
Apart from the slow beginning the pacing was good and I'm currently hoping I won't have messed it up by making the other changes! That's something it might be useful to have someone else comment on.
I would be happy to read yours if I can be of any use. I don't have any formal creative writing training but I have worked through a lot of books on craft.
Sorry, I must have misunderstood! Just let me know though, but that's not the type of book I'm familiar with. I do read a lot, though, so send it to me if you want me to look at pace and plot etc.
I'm starting something new during the summer holidays and won't have anything ready for public consumption for a while. The other two books are finished and I don't want to change them for now - I've sent them to agents and we'll see what they have to say. It's a very stressful time!
Tunip - I didn't think the beginning was too slow, I felt it was off to a rocking start.
Imperial, I would be delighted if you would look at my short story. I haven't heard from my friends, I was out with one of them tonight and she didn't mention it - perhaps it's so dreadful that she can't bear too !
If you pm me your email I would love to send it on - it's only 1500 words.
What type of genre do you write ? Also it's very impressive to hear you say you are done with two books. At what point did you decide that's it no more revisions?
I think I'm going to sort out all my characters, and all the other stuff, and prune to within an inch of its life, and THEN try and make up my mind about the beginning. Most people who read it say it wasn't too slow, but there IS definitely a moment at which the pace picks up.
It's just such an important thing - if a slow start stops the agents I submit to from getting beyond the first three chapters they'll never find out how pacey the rest of it is
ImperialBlether - best of luck with your submissions and many congratulations on getting to that point with not one but two books - what an achievement.
(I am dreading that stage. I may just revise this one for the rest of my life rather than face it.)
Doggone it, I'm stuck entirely.
No word back from my friends on my short story and I don't want to chase them and DH has done something to the computer so I started making some alterations to my novel and half way in ( ok fifteen minutes in) discovered it was in read only mode and then I couldn't be bothered going back to it.
I'm sorely tempted to jack it in and try and finish up the new one. I hate editing - mostly because I have now discovered I know no grammar and find it really hard jumping from cutting bits out to writing new bits in.
The grammar will be easy once you've assimilated it, like riding a bike or something.
I can't cut and add significantly at the same time either. I'm going through mostly fleshing out and I'll do the going through cutting down in a separate pass. (I'm cutting a few bits, where they stand out, but mostly it's impossible to hold any sense of pace in my mind if I'm cutting and adding at the same time.)
I get the impression some people do work best with several projects on the go, moving from one to the other when they get stuck then coming back to the first with fresh eyes later. As long as something is moving forward maybe it doesn't matter what?
Well, the two books - I wrote one on my MA (well, after it finished as there wasn't time on it) and got an agent through them visiting the course and they tried to sell it, but couldn't. I have my own feelings about that as the agent they allocated to me was an intern and she was trying to place it in publishers who didn't deal with that kind of book. So I got about ten reviews from publishers, all very very nice but ultimately not biting. So I went into a major sulk for a couple of years, then wrote another. Then I sent the new one off - no bites - but I sent one agent the second one as well, and she's reading the full manuscript now (taking her time, btw!) So I started to send both off and that's where they are at the moment. It's incredibly frustrating.
How very frustrating. And how very crap of the agent.
Do you tell the agents you are submitting to any of the background to why you're submitting two books? Or just send them off with a standard covering letter?
No, I don't explain that other publishers have seen it. I don't generally submit two at a time - I don't think it gives a good impression, even though they do want to know you're capable of writing a second book.
You've fired me up now - going to write to the agent who's had it three months. She has pissed me off! Will let you know her exact rejection as soon as I get it!
Good luck! Fingers crossed that this is the one that doesn't reject you then!
Thanks, Tunip. I've not had a reply; she's probably got lockjaw from the staggering cheek of someone wanting to hear one way or another!
Fingers crossed ImperialBlether.
Where did you do your MA, imperial? I did one at goldsmiths.
I'm writing/ rewriting a new project - not sure yet if it's right though.
I read some to DH and he said, well, it's ok, but who would read it? Hmmm
I did it here in Liverpool, Euphemism. I'm jealous of you going to Goldsmiths, though!
What's your new project about?
I think you should write books that you'd like to read yourself - tell your DH you're your own target audience!
I wouldn't show DH anything Thisis. He has more than three "books" "written" by Jeremy Clarkson at his side of the bed, that tells me all I need to know about his literary judgement.
That's true, originalandbestrookie. I buy books for DH every year in a bid to improve him, but he only reads Frederick Forsyth. What does he know?!
Project is the sort of the thing publishers loathe apparently. Autobiographical-ish, linked, short stories, sigh. I'm really enjoying the writing of it though, so that's got to count for something, eh. And it is the sort of thing I like to read so that's something too, maybe...
Good luck with the submissions Imperial. I did the MA about 8 years ago now, and got an agent with the book I was working on. I was so excited - but no one took the book. It's a long (fucking) game isn't it...
Logging in to say I am still going, although you wouldn't know it from this thread!
SO... having had a paid critique (VERY worthwhile) I've now got a clear list of things to work on. At the moment, I'm focusing on the plot, and making sure that it makes sense not just from the main character's point of view, but that all the other characters (and particularly the evil antagonists) are behaving in logical ways, given what they know. I'm doing a chapter by chapter plot summary, contrasting what every character knows or is doing at that point. I have already identified a few points at which people do deeply odd things. I also have various loose ends, I think - such as spelling out who did do the murder, and who is the spy.
I've also had the lovely excuse to read lots of novels to see what they do!
A query - I have a vaguely sinister figure who pops up a lot in the background (a sinister Union leader type person). I'd mentally put him down as scene setting and motivation for other characters, but I'm wondering whether I ought to give him some kind of specific plot thread of his own. I'm concerned it might feel as though it's a bit of a loose end.
p.s. Tunip - I do agree that the beginning of your novel was too slow. I actually went back and checked it after I got the critique on mine, and thought it did take a little time to get going, although obviously I can see why you begin with the hawking scene.
That's very interesting about checking what all the characters know at any given point, GrendelsMum. I think I might find that a useful process too.
Your sinister background figure - I think you can tie loose ends up without him having to have his own plot thread - just say something about him later on that give you a sense of closure about him IYSWIM. Also, whether he does end up giving you a sense of loose ends depends how he's signposted. I would personally find that quite hard to judge in my own work and would be asking beta readers about it.
I think I'm going to have a big session of worrying about pace soon, when I discover all the new pace problems I have inserted by my draft 3 changes. (All the stuff to make Will
sexier more interesting and the stuff to clarify Nan's motivations at the start.... not to mention the new scene I am about to insert after I went back to the castle that inspired it the other week and discovered it has an oubliette! An actual oubliette where they found a human arm bone manacled to the wall!!!!)
It is all quite alarming. Gawd only knows how one deals with pace problems in a novel at this stage. Ruthless cutting of bits I really love, I suppose.
However, I am kept cheerful by a fabulous insight I have been given by a helpful medievalist Mumsnetter, which has shown me exactly how Nan's differing attractions to Will and Francis would be expressed. If I can play my cards right I will be able to make the romance scenes hot but also unimpeachably pure and YA-appropriate....
Still working on plot here.
After a lot of soul searching, I'm trying to cut out scenes in which people, effectively, go to work and talk to their colleagues while having something to eat (my heroes do that a lot, which probably represents my life quite accurately), and replace them with some more scenes in which unexpected and exciting things happen.
Heroes are interrogated by evil and sinister police!
Heroes have to fight off a deranged woman whose husband / child has just died and who blames them for it!
Heroes are called in by street kids to dispose of a mysterious dead body!
etc etc. Not quite sure about all of those, but it would perhaps liven it up a bit.
Ultimately, the heroine is arrested on trumped-up charges and imprisoned without trial (except of course she escapes).
Would it be more sinister, and make it clearer as to the danger she's in, if earlier, shes made to give evidence against someone else arrested on trumped-up charges, who's then condemned to death?
What do people think?
LOL re food. Yes, they do do that a lot, but I never found it dull when I was reading it because I enjoyed the descriptions of the horrible food. I hope the food in your workplace is better.
I do agree, though. Even if they're having the same conversation they should have it in a more interesting place or while doing something interesting.
As long as your 'exciting things' support the main story arc and don't feel randomly dropped in - that will be the challenge, I think.
And yes, absolutely. I think showing what the stakes are for your character in that way is precisely what is called for. The problem I had when reading it was not really getting involved enough with her to care about her, and I think it would help a lot, because it would give you a chance to show her emotional reaction to something dramatic.
I am currently reading through mine, having attempted to fix all the bigger-picture things apart from the pace issue, so I need to see how it has worked and how well the new scenes fit in.
Then I will do some ruthless trimming. It's now 83k (it was 70) and I think it needs to lose 5-10%.
At the moment I am hoping I can deal with the slow start by manipulating the emotional climaxes so it feels like it's got going earlier in the plot. Counter-intuitively, this has involved adding scenes near the start, rather than taking them away, so there's a bit of drama (Nan is caught eavesdropping on her father arranging to hide money abroad - it was in draft 1 but I cut it for draft 2) and I think it has helped liven things up early on, though that may be wishful thinking. We'll see.
Interestingly, one solution I tried has failed utterly: I tried to do the commissioners' visit to the aunt's abbey as a prologue rather than a flashback. I thought it would be good because it's a nice dramatic scene that underlies Nan's entire motivation for the book and if it was a film you would start with that. It hasn't worked and I think there are two reasons. One is that it's the classic problem of dramatic things happening to people you don't care about. The other is that I wanted a beginning that teenagers could immediately get hold of and I think the nunnery scene probably isn't that - the conflict with the father is easier to relate to.
Oh, I love writing the scenes where they have more and more awful food. No-one but me will ever know it, but at one point they're eating quinoa from a particular health food shop I was unfortunate enough to visit.
I may work on fitting some of the extra possible scenes in to the plot. The interrogation, trial and condemnation to death would be quite easy, I think. Not so sure about the others, but they're possibilities. I've also made the character a bit more understandable earlier on (at least, i hope so - it's now clearer early on what's happened to her and her family, and why she's so bonkers).
Could the conflict with the father happen on the hill, so that it gets going absolutely straight off, while you still fet the feeling of her outside with the hawk? And that she feels the sinisterness of him coming to find her?
I think you're right vis a vis the commissioners and not having it as a prologue.
I like the idea of her being overheard hearing her father the nasty weasly bastard hiding money abroad. Excellent bit of plot.
You might find that the trial and condemnation to death (and execution?) take up a lot of words and you have to be fairly restrained with the other additions.
I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done with the character. She's already intriguing and extremely cool.
Just pondering, but I wonder if there's a case for keeping the canteen scenes and turning up the dreariness and awful food up a notch so it becomes more of an interesting thing in its own right (I'm thinking about F.Scott Fitzgerald being told by his editor that Gatsby was too vague, so he responded by making him even vaguer).
I don't think Nan's father would go to find her - he needs to be sitting smugly at his desk, and I like taking her from the hillside into the nasty dark house (scene of patriarchal power) which prefigures the castle. But there is a lot of chopping around of location at that point (hillside/father/grandmother/hillside) so I might need to do something.
You might be right with the word count - and with keeping the dreary canteen scenes. I did wonder about an additional food scene in the boarding house when she realises that at least she's getting regular and varied food, terrible as it is.
Are you sure the father couldn't stare smugly at his lands, invading her space of freedom? But I do like the nasty dark house, too.
One thing I'm gradually learning is that sometimes what you think at first has to be a scene can work surprisingly well as a sentence or two.
On which subject, if I DID have to cut something from the early stages I think it would have to be the scene where the aunt brings them the sacred girdle; I'm not entirely happy with it as it feels a bit forced, and I might be able to get away with conveying the information some other way.
I found it quite telling that when I wrote my synopsis I was able to leave all that stuff out entirely.
Oooh, can I join in?
I have "finished" something, which ended up at 106,000 words long. Quite waffly, obviously.
I was at the point where a few close friends had read it and urged me to send it away to agencies, but so far I have had eleven "sorry,not for me" replies :S
Yay, new blood!
You can definitely improve it and up your chances. Enthusiastic friends are nice but they don't generally get how much competition is out there and how good it needs to be.
So do you have a plan? Is it clear to you what you need to do to make it better? Or are you looking at it and wondering where to start?
And what is your genre?
And congratulations on finishing your first draft! 106k is a big achievement!
I write romance / chick lit.
It's massively competitive, isn't it!
This is the third one I have "finished", I have two more (both around the 77k word mark) but this is the one I think is better/stronger and the others I do mean to get back to and edit. I just started a 4th and am 20k words in.
I think my plan needs to be to focus on one :D
LOL yes, that sounds like a plan!
I'm not on here much, but I wanted to pop on here to tell people who understand, that the first draft of my first book is finished.
25k words, it's a fiction Novella (I think, there's debate over what that length is called) in the Grimm fairy tale style, for older children upwards. I have Beta readers checking for plot holes and grammar, and have registered with Smashwords, and read the formatting guide. What else do I need to do?
Thanks, I'll check them out tomorrow. I'm glad to have the story down "on paper" at last, it's been rattling round my head for months now, occupying my thoughts. Beta readers are very positive so far, they've found errors but love the story in general.
In my experience, having finished the first draft, you now re-write, and re-write, and re-write, and continually realise the whole thing is full of holes and you don't know what to do.
If I wasn't so stubborn I'd stop now and just have a nice life of reading other people's books, not bothering about my own.
Huge congratulations on the first draft, anyway!
I've been rewriting the earlier bits as I've gone along, only one plot hole has been found by a beta reader (so far), I found and plugged loads of holes before releasing it. I'm hoping the rewrites won't be that drastic, the book began as several short stories, which are now inextricably linked by many tangled narrative threads.
'A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit'.
There you are GrendelsMum, that's today's inspirational quote for you
Just think of the sense of achievement when you finally get there....
Thank you, Tunip
I'm just plotting out the new strand with the trial and the execution now...
That's a really helpful self editing link Tunip.
Ran the book through the YA story analyser, it came out pretty well. Overuse of "and", and too many passive sentences but otherwise fine. I like that tool, thanks.
My writing is too passive, too. I did notice that the scenes I'd rewritten more times came out with a better score on that than the newer ones, so I think it's something I'm gradually improving through the rewrites even though I hadn't consciously addressed it.
InMySpareTime, how good are your betas? Do they have writing experience themselves? For my draft, I had 3 readers who write fiction (one is mainly a playwright who also teaches creative writing) and 4 who write non-fiction. (I'm writing historical, hence the usefulness for me of having so many.)
In general, as well as the major points that everybody picked up (the boringness of my love interest being the main one) it was the creative writers who gave me the really fundamental craft-related feedback (the others were ace at plotholes and language issues).
While I don't buy the idea that feedback from friends is worthless as some people will tell you, I am beginning to learn more about the value of feedback from people who understand the craft of writing at a structural level and have a vocabulary to express it all in.
My Beta readers are:
A town planner
A TV copy editor
A contract lawyer
A commercial lawyer
A fiction writer
A friend who reads widely in my genre
A professional proofreader
Some are looking mainly for grammatical errors, others for plot holes or continuity. I have asked them all to be brutal and not nice. Initial feedback is good, I know the end is still a bit rough round the edges, I'll see what others make of it.
Oh, I also have a fair few children reading for me, to help me work out the best age group to target the book.
Ironically, DD (aged 9) was the first of my Beta readers to spot a spelling error ("pieced" should read "pierced")
Oh, that's brilliant. It will be really interesting to see what they say.
I love the story analyser!
My "and" count is still way too high. It was 80%, though after removing superfluous "and"s I got it down to 60%.
Perhaps the style of language I am using for the story is too "and" heavy, it's a Grimm fairytale style, and necessarily quite descriptive.
How can I reduce my "and" count without detracting from the flow of the story?
InMySpareTime - do you want to post a sample paragraph for us to have a look at? I don't think I could make any sugestions about changing the style without seeing what it looks like now and what the role of 'and' is at the moment.
Meanwhile - I'm running into a bit of a problem. My character repeatedly explains to other people things that they don't know, but that the reader does. My critiquer pointed this out as a problem, as it slows things down for the reader and is dull.
SO, how do I deal with this. Something like simply saying - "She explained what she'd seen at the circus, staring at her polished boots the whole time." It sounds very easy when I write it here, but somehow I have problems making it flow when it's actually within the novel.
Will do this afternoon when I'm on the "big" computer, not the iPod.
Grendelsmum - cut to after she's explained it?
Focus on the reaction of the person having it explained to them, which is probably more interesting than her explaining it?
Here goes, a representative paragraph for you to pick apart (sorry it's long):
In Boravia there hung a tapestry woven by the famous tailor, depicting a famous battle. The work was so skilful that if viewed by moonlight, the battle cries could be heard resonating through the very threads. When sunbeams hit the surface of the tapestry, they reflected in myriad directions, revealing colours previously unseen. The horses appeared to rear up so realistically that some said they could hear their hoofbeats echo through the room. Once, when the Boravian army had emerged victorious from a hard-won battle, their battle standard was seen to unfurl within the tapestry. The image of the king seemed to turn his head to smile upon those viewing the marvellous work. As veterans from the battle eventually died, their tapestry counterparts appeared with closed eyes, even though previously their eyes had been open. This was all the more amazing given the cloth was not tampered with or altered in any way, as it hung beyond reach, and nobody was permitted within ten feet of it.
What do you think?
Thanks very much, Tunip. I like the idea of focusing on the person's reaction - that should really work.
Writing has been going well the past few days (touch wood) - I've gone from feeling intimated by revising the novel to feeling really invigorated and excited by it.
Hope all is well with you! L and I met up the other day and spent most of it discussing who we would snog / marry / push off a cliff in your novel. Very much looking forward to reading it's next incarnation.
InMySpareTime - here are my thoughts.
I like the idea very much, and I'd like to know more about the story and what's going to go on. Im guessing we're in a medieval, magical world, and something exciting is going to happen, and I like all of that.
I can also see what you mean about the word 'and', given your particular style.
However, I wonder whether, perhaps because you can picture the scene so clearly, you're at risk of being a vague about what the reader doesn't know, and telling the reader too much about what they do know.
So there are some things that I'm not told, and which make it difficult for me to imagine what's going on - most obviously, in what building in Boravia this magical tapesty is hanging. In a church hall? In a palace? In an art gallery?
I also think that the reader gets the message (because you're picking up on lots of collective fantasy understandings that we already share) that it's a magical tapestry a good deal quicker than you give us credit for. The result is that effectively we've got sentence after sentence, all telling us the same thing - it's magic because you hear things, it's magic because you hear things, its magic because it changes, it's magic because it changes, it's magic because it knows when people dies. Oh yes, and did you get that it does this magically, not because people are popping up and re-sewing it?
I think you could get the same effect on the reader from about half your current sentences - your reader's imagination will then have more time to do all the filling in. Plus, I think that the sentence with impact is the one about the dead soldiers closing their eyes, not the one about the tapestry being set up National Trust style with small ropes preventing people from getting too close to it.
There's also a repetition in one sentence, which I don't think works (famous tailor / famous battle).
So I think you could cut it down as follows:
e.g. "In the palace, there hung a tapestry, created by the famous tailor, and depicting a great battle. The work was so skilful that, viewed by moonlight, the clash of weapons and the cries of the soldiers could be heard, resonating from the very threads. Once, as the Boravian army rallied victorious in a hard-fought battle, their standard was seen to unfurl within the tapestry. And, as the veterans from the fight died, of injuries, disease, or mere old age, their tapestry counterparts closed their eyes."
Then you've saved yourself about half the sentences and you can get right on with telling us about the exciting thing that I know is going to happen next, because I think there's going to be magic and battles and heroines doing kick-ass stuff, and I like all of those, and I want to hear about them now, not find out about the Boravian Ministry of Culture's tapestry conservation policy.
Does this make sense to you?
I don't see many 'and's in that
I love your writing. The imagination and magic is just beautiful.
In terms of technical things, I think you need to vary your sentence length more - it feels quite staccato. You need to look out for repetitions (eg famous, famous, battle, battle). The YA story analyzer tool is useful for that.
You could keep the impact of the fabulous imaginative stuff while minimising the off-puttingness of the long descriptive passage by simply cutting as ruthlessly as poss. Eg, 'This was all the more amazing given the cloth was not tampered with or altered in any way, as it hung beyond reach, and nobody was permitted within ten feet of it' could become something like 'This was all the more amazing given nobody was permitted within ten feet of the cloth.' - the rest doesn't need spelling out.
I think GrendelsMum and I are on the same page about this - fun but wordy, can be more economically expressed while keeping the good stuff.
Oh, hello Tunip! How nice to think of us both sitting writing on a Saturday morning
Oh I'm not writing, I'm snatching odd moments in between childcare and MIL!
Glad it's going well, GrendelsMum.
I look forward to seeing how you get on!
I've had a week off (half term, camping, MIL visiting) which is the first week I've taken off since I started in Sept, as up until now when I've been away from the manuscript I've been working on craft/research.
Am dying to get back to it. Hopefully the distance will help me see how the new scenes with Will are working. Then I have a lot - and I mean a LOT - to do on the writing.
I am starting to roughly sketch out some ideas for my next book. While I'm not at all tempted to move my focus away from this one, I'm quite reassured to find that I CAN imagine being as obsessed by it as I am by this one. I was worried all the improved technique I was learning would be for nothing if I couldn't find another story I loved as much.
I like Grendel's edit very much, some fine advice there imo
Thanks, Ninah - it's so much easier when it's someone else's words to cut, isn't it? And so much harder when it's your own lovingly crafted work, every word of which is of course vital. I'm tackling this myself at the moment...
Tunip - I'm really looking forward to hearing how the book is going after your break, and to hear that another one is being sketched out.
Meanwhile, I'm focusing on plot at the moment, and in particular working on a sticky patch towards the end of the novel, with a sequence of several chapters. I've been aware that it's lacking in tension, even though in theory it should all be exciting. I've come to the conclusion that it needs a better sense of narrative drive pushing through the whole sequence, and that the characters need to have a clear character arc within that section, going from fear / distrust / repulsion to trust and fellowship. Plus they KEEP BLOODY EXPLAINING THINGS TO EACH OTHER.
I am holding a radical cut of scenes where people explain things to each other. Instead, each scene is supposed to contain conflict, change and action at some level, develop characters and move the story forward.
Now I just have to achieve that!
Do you have a plan for how to convey the information to the reader that is currently conveyed by characters explaining things to each other? Or is it superfluous anyway?
I like looking at character arcs. Actually sussing out what Will's was was a good feeling, and Scrivener or just computers in general are v helpful.
I hope I'm still as determined as you when I'm at the point where you are now.
I'm currently blitzing my excessively passive writing, as identified by the magic YA analyser. I've given up on trying to work out whether the new Will scenes have worked. I'm going to wait and see what my second round betas say, once I've done the work on the writing. I suspect it will still need some tweaking after that but hopefully it will be less next time round.
Oh, I'm interested to hear that Will now has a character arc - would you be able to send it to me for a comparison, or is it scribbled on a piece of paper (which mine are).
Yes, the current plan goes
- info 1 (a medical secret) is now going to be a hurried phone call to L, saying 'I've found a whole load of mysterious papers, implying that X was going on... come over to my flat as soon as you can'. Except that L is then arrested before she can come over.
- info 2 (how many people are affected) is now going to be a 1 line uttered by someone when doing something else
- info 3 (bribes are being taken) is going to be a dramatic scene where someone tries to bribe L
I think this should really liven it up.
Yes, I can send you my notes for it easily. It's just notes, not a visual arc-shaped representation. Hang on a min.
I've sent you a PM with it in. Actually maybe it's the arc of their relationship rather than his character? You'll note I've done it from both sides, his then hers.
Oh yes, the bribes thing especially sounds excellent. It's all about making people interact with the information, isn't it? Like making them interact with their environment rather than just having separate description of it.
Well I've had a very satisfying few days.
The de-passive-ifying my writing is slow (a few scenes a day) but alongside that I'm searching the whole document for The Words I Use Too Much, and finding better ways to express them.
Both processes are making my writing improve by leaps and bounds. It is incredible how much difference it's making. It seems to be unlocking ideas I wouldn't otherwise have thought of.
I love the way getting rid of passives makes you think about who is actually doing the action. I have got 'precision' and 'clarity' up on my noticeboard as things to aim for, and getting rid of passives is not only making it clearer, it's making me view the action in a more precise manner.
And it just reads so much more like a real book now the characters aren't turning round and looking at each other every couple of paragraphs....
Thanks Grendel and Tunip, good advice, I'm just back from a week's holiday in the land that wifi forgot.
I'll get to work on those issues this coming week once the DCs are back to school.
It's good to get impartial feedback, I've got a small Canadian publishing house interested but I'm holding off sending the book until it's the best it can be. The editing is easily as hard as the writing, choosing what to cut and what to keep.
The tailor wove a tapestry for the king of Boravia, depicting a fiercely-fought battle. The king ordered that it be hung high across the length of his Great Hall, permanently on display but under constant guard lest it be damaged or defaced by his enemies. The king treasured the masterpiece, which had a number of curious properties. It was no mere static image, but revealed new insights when moonlight or sunlight struck the threads directly. Viewed by moonlight, the battle cries could be heard resonating through the very threads, while sunbeams reflected from its surface in myriad directions, revealing colours previously invisible. The horses woven throughout the piece appeared to rear up so realistically that their hoofbeats were said to echo through the room. As veterans from the battle eventually died, their tapestry counterparts appeared with closed eyes, even though previously their eyes had been open.
Thanks for sharing your revision, InMySpareTime! Great to read it. One thought about the revised version in comparison to the original version - how does it sound to you when you read it aloud? There's something about the sentence structure across the whole paragraph which is nagging at me, and I can't put my finger on it. Repetition of sentence structure? Too many long sentences one after another? Wish I could say exactly what I think's not quite right...
Anyway, here's my puzzle for the day. How on earth would you question someone who you think might be a traitor, without letting them know that you suspect them? What would you even start saying to them?
I think it's the sentence lengths needing more variation, the repetition of sentence structure, and the passives.
The YA story analyser gave it a passive sentences score of 71.43%. Obviously that's only a crude tool and it's a single paragraph and in a longer piece of writing a single paragraph might well have that many passives in it, but for an intro you need people to jump straight in so you probably can't get away with it there.
There are also quite a lot of adverbs for such a short piece.
I sometimes do this - in trying to make my writing less wordy I kind of squish it all up together and it becomes too compact to swim through easily.
I know I bang on a lot about passives at the moment btw - it's the fervour of the recent convert. I never even noticed this about my writing until recently and I am totally blown away by the difference it's making to me.
I have not had to give up descriptive passages totally, but I am finding that because I have to justify the purpose of every single was or were or be, the ones I allow to stay have extra impact, which is rather pleasing.
re the traitor thing - I would diss whoever they are supposed to be treacherous to and see if they joined in
Or, I would have set a trap for them somewhere ... difficult to advise without knowing the details!
Grendel, re. The traitor, could the questioner confide in the traitor that he suspects another, then step back and allow the traitor to talk himself into a trap?
Thanks for your feedback, I felt the same about the sentence length. in earlier revisions the YA analyser said the sentences were "insanely long", and that there were too many "and"s, so I cut several sentences down to size. Now they just feel truncated. Reading other YA fiction, sentences seem short to my adult eye, I'm not sure whether to join that bandwagon or stick to the style I'm comfortable writing.
It's very easy to lose the rhythm when you start chopping sentences up, but it's easy enough to put it back again and there's plenty of scope for variation when you can go from 1 to 39 words without even falling into the 'very difficult sentences' box.
I wouldn't even think about doing something just to jump on a bandwagon, but I found it quite a useful process to look at recently published things that sell and whose style I admire, and analyse how they work. After all, writers and publishers do know a thing or two about what sells to kids these days, but there is still a lot of variety within that and they don't all write like Jacqueline Wilson. Which writers in your genre do you like?
Chris Priestley (Tales of Terror etc)
Janis MacKay (accidental time traveller)
Joseph Delaney's "Spook" series
These authors write in a style most aligned with mine. Of those, Janis MacKay uses the least descriptive language and the shortest sentences, Joseph Delaney has extremely long, descriptive sentences.
Getting useful feedback is really hard! Only one of my Beta Readers has given me decent feedback, the others either gushed with praise but found no errors, or haven't got round to reading it yet.
Encouragingly, I was talking to a friend if DSs yesterday, he asked to read the book so I let him read it via DropBox on the iPod. He got so engrossed in it, he nearly fell into a dip in the lawn and was reluctant to stop reading when his parents were going home.
That's interesting. I've read some Chris Priestley and I can see where you're going with that. He writes in a pseudo-Victorian style but one which is still quite heavily adapted for the expectations of modern teen readers.
Looking at the opening to The Dead of Winter, I'm struck by a few things. His descriptions are mostly active with few adverbs. He manages a lot of variation in sentence length with a few sentences of over 40 words. He makes use of short paragraphs in connection with his long sentences (often a paragraph is just a single long sentence), so there is still a fair bit of white space on the page. I'm also struck by his use of the first and second person to make it more engaging than it would be if it was all in third. He introduces the character from the word go, so you have someone to identify with, and involves the reader directly with second ('If, after that, you turn away in disbelief....') Is that something you could do here? It would be one way to create a less distanced piece of writing.
I wonder if you can get your keen kid readers to pin down what it is they like about your writing. It would be good to know what the elements are that you absolutely must preserve at all cost.
I do have a chapter involving the reader, as a means of moving the story from "once upon a time" to action decades later. I've been making the sentences more active without making them too choppy, it's hard going (6 hours yesterday taking out 30% of the "was" instances).
Getting detailed feedback is like getting blood from a stone, how do you work with "it's a great story, I didn't see any mistakes" when you know there are obvious errors you spotted after the Beta Readers' version of the book?
Have you signed up to AbsoluteWrite.com and posted an extract in the 'Share your work' section for critiquing? (I'm on there but I haven't yet because I still have stuff I can see to improve.) You have to have made 50 posts and preferably critiqued other people's work first, but you can get some really good, detailed critiques of short passages. For the book as a whole, a lot of people find beta partners there.
You get a lot faster at de-passive-ifying. The first scene I did it to took me a whole day for 1000 words but by the end I was doing 9 scenes in a day. You learn to home straight in on the ones that need changing and quickly work out the best way to fix them.
Hopefully next time I'll manage to write a draft without so many damn passives in there in the first place!
I've finished my passives now, thank goodness, and am going back to my list of overused words. It is a constantly-growing list because I keep noticing more.
Getting scarily close to second round beta reading stage. Yikes.
How is everyone else getting on?
Mine is so close I can almost upload it. Passives all activated, "and" level massively reduced. Beta readers' notes acted on (beta readers thanked).
This weekend I'm going to read the book just to enjoy the story again, as all the editing has sucked the joy from it, and I want to regain the excitement.
What are you going to do with it? Are you self-pubbing?
Self publishing with Smashwords and KDP, also sending off to a couple of publishers who deal with YA fantasy for print version.
Did you decide it was YA rather than middle grade?
It's consistently coming through the YA fiction analyser as "15-17 year olds", although 9yo DD has no trouble reading it (though she does have me for a mother so reads a lot). I'll see what the publishers say.
Yeah, it's more important to fit the subject matter to the readership, I think, and then the language can be tweaked accordingly.
Mine comes out at 13-15 in its current state. I don't know how reading ages relate to what actual teens read though. They're a blunt instrument.
I published the book today The Strangeling's Tale <completely outs self but doesn't care>
I am so excited! I have a real book out there in the world. It got through their checker first time with absolutely no formatting errors too.
I love your title, and your cover art. I hope you sell masses!
I looked at the sample and I do love your writing style - really elegant.
Thank you, I'm planning an entire week of no writing before starting the next book.
Mine is going off to second round beta readers tomorrow.
I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. Maybe even read some of the book I've got stacked up for the next one
'bookS I've got stacked up for the next one', that should be.
That seems to be the thing with books, The End is never the actual end, there are always more books to read or to write.
Lesson I've learned about Beta Readers: they give useful feedback, but only when given a defined "bit" to read and a deadline.
It's just as well though. I'm sure the only way to stay sane when you start submitting is to be absorbed in the next project.
I've just been emailing my 3rd draft out to second round beta readers, which is not half as scary as it was the first time.
Hello, popping back in. Have finished another draft (lost track now, 5th, 6th?) but inspired by your postings upthread I am now going to scrutinise the entire document for passive voice! Will also now start thinking about drafting the synopsis.
Glad you're still at it.
Mine is with second round beta readers so I'm having a break and actually reading which makes a change.
It's interesting looking at the way things are written in the light of all the work I've done on my writing style.
I've concluded I was right to fight the passives but I've been over-neurotic about adverbs.
I've got the book published with Smashwords and KDP, in the process of publishing with Google Books, and getting an author page with Goodreads.
I have sent the book to 3 publishers, not heard back yet.
I've sold 11 books in 2 weeks, not too bad for a first effort!
Make that 13 books, I just looked and saw 2 more sold.
Hello, can I join? <hands round biscuits>
Congrats to everyone doing so well, publishing, persevering. It's bloody hard!
Right, well I am currently hard at work on the proofs of my first book, which is soon to be published with an indie press. I can't even begin to tell you how cold my feet are feeling and how scared I am about the whole thing. That said, so far I am quite happy with the galleys -- except for one section in particular. There are a few niggles in that section that are jumping out at me and keeping me awake at night.
Around now all of the marketing stuff is happening (the budget for same is extremely small, btw, so that might sound more impressive than it is!) and I find that stuff quite difficult to deal with. I know it has to be done, though.
Well, that's me. Time for coffee!
Ooh that's exciting, BitScary! Did you go through an agent or directly to the publishers? Is it an ebook or a regular book? What genre is it?
Oh wow, BitScary, congratulations on your first book! That's fabulous.
Is it a novel?
I am hearing good things about indie presses. I went on a 'how to get published' course recently and the tutor said they are becoming increasingly important.
Thanks! Genre is literary fiction, I guess, as wanky and all as that sounds. Don't want to be too specific (terrified of outing self) but no agent involved. The publishers had seen some of my work and approached me. That's interesting that your tutor said good things about indie presses, Turnip. I think particularly for lit fic they are almost the best bet these days.
It's a regular book but I think there'll be an e-version too. Not sure actually, need to check!
Love your cover art, InMySpareTime, I wish you all the best with it!
Wow, they approached you? That's everyone's dream. And literary fiction... I envy you.
Congratulations, BitScary! That's wonderful news, absolutely well done. Do keep us updated with progress.
And best of luck for your continuing sales, InMySpareTime. Have you received any reviews from 'real' readers yet?
I really popped on to thank Tunip for her wonderful recommendation of Donald Maas's book 'Writing the Breakout Novel'. It's been an absolute revelation - I've so much enjoyed it, it's transformed my thinking and I want to re-write my entire novel (in the most positive way possible). I'm not quite sure where I'm going to go from here, but I honestly think it's going to be a much better, clearer written and more appealing novel. It's also a book which I think I could only have fully appreciated having written and struggled with a solid draft - he's really tackled a lot of the problems that I was feeling around, in particular the issue of making the stakes matter. It's also - oddly enough - sent me running joyfully to my bookshelves to read old favourites.
As you can tell, I can't recommend it highly enough to people on here.
p.s. Tunip, you send me your book as a .doc file - can you send it as an .epub and a .mobi so I can take it on hols with me? I'm already full of thoughts about your work too, based on Donald Maas - including that it's no wonder that everyone likes Lord M best.
Grendelsmum if you have a .doc you can right click the file and "send to kindle". You might need to download free software from the kindle site to do it, but it's easy, and means you can put your books-in-progress on your kindle where it's easier to spot errors.
I have one review from an actual reader, 5 stars too <preens>
Several people have said they'll read it once it's the holidays, the end of term is quite a busy time, so I'm hoping for a surge in sales in a week or two.
Today I'm going on my local library website to request that they stock my book, as they have an ebook collection in my area.
GrendelsMum, I've sent you the mobi file - hope you got it ok.
I'm glad you're finding the Maas useful. I found it quite inspirational. Once upon a time people would have written quite unselfconsciously about the purpose of literature being to show us noble deeds so we could emulate them, but since then naturalism has happened so we're kind of embarrassed about this urge to make our heroes heroic, I think. The Maas book kind of gives you permission to do that.
I'd be fascinated to hear any thoughts you have about mine in relation to it (though I only read it after my first draft).
Looking forward very much to seeing what the impact is on your book.
So, one beta has replied so far and another has given me some sort of interim comments.
What is freaking me out a bit is that it's the same issues coming up again - but they're either things I thought I had fixed and apparently I STILL haven't, or else they're the opposite of my previous feedback and it seems I've gone too far in fixing the problems the last betas raised.
Those of you who've been through many drafts - how do you stay sane when this happens?
What's everyone up to here?
It's gone a bit quiet.
I've now sold 15 copies, uploaded the book to Smashwords, Amazon, Google Books and Goodreads (who of course all wanted the book in different formats).
I have made a start on the next book, but I'm not really "feeling it" and don't want to force it and have a rubbish story.
I've been approached about writing a book with 100 stories, all exactly 100 words long. It seems exciting, I may write a few for that this afternoon.
Well done, InMySpareTime!
The book of 100 word stories sounds like a brilliant idea and also fantastic discipline to write in so few words. Go for it!
I'm still waiting for Godot, I mean for my betas.
In the meantime I'm madly researching and plotting my next one and getting stupidly excited.
I am very happy about the fact that it is set at exactly the same time as the last (main character is daughter of someone who was a minor character in my last) so the research is building on everything I did for the other.
The best thing, though, is that I'm really feeling the results of the work I did on craft as I worked on my last. I am starting from a much, much higher baseline this time. I understand the processes of writing much better now and I will be able to sketch out character and story arcs before I start. All very satisfying.
School hols have started here, though, so I'm not going to have a huge number of uninterrupted hours.
Hello all - Godot here! Lovely to hear that Tunip is finding this second novel is building so much on the hard work she's put into the first one. It really gives me hope for the future.
After a lot of cogitating and musing on Donald Maas's works, I've just been sitting down to try to re-write my opening chapters. Which went better than I thought it would. I was feeling really nervous and reluctant about it, and instead it went absolutely fine. Not a polished work, by any means, but suddenly with the characters better defined, more sympathetic (I hope), and the tension and moral pressures they're under much more clearly defined.
Godot was worth the wait! Thank you. (I'll reply properly by email.)
Really looking forward to seeing how your novel turns out when it is all Maased up.
I'm itching to get back to my old one. Early stages of research and planning are fun but it feels weird to be working on that when there's still work to do on the first. Like painting a room and moving onto another when you've still left one wall unpainted.
How are sales going, InMySpareTime?
Sold 20 now, steady 4 or 5 each week.
I need to focus on getting back into my writing. It's the summer holidays, and while the DCs are around, quite frankly, I'd rather be out with them having fun than stuck in writing. I'll prioritise the Drabble stories, they're relatively simple to write, then make a decent stab at the Tailor's Curse.
Those of you who have published with US companies, how did you sort ID to get your ITIN for form W-8BEN? It seems the IRS want me to post my passport to the US. I'm asking round for a local notary to certify a copy instead.
Well done re sales! It must be amazing to be at the point of actually selling things rather than constant revision
Have you asked the passport question on the threads about kindle publishing? I remember it being discussed before on here - perhaps you could do a search? Seem to remember MmeGuillotine mentioning it (and she always seems to be hugely helpful about self-publishing issues).
It's really complicated! Either I need to post my passport to the US for up to 8 weeks, or I need to find a notary to sign a copy to send, or I need to get to London to get a tax number from the embassy.
Alternatively I can get an employer tax number over the phone (but I need to phone the US).
Seems a lot given the tax withholding is currently around £5, but once I have the number, it's good for all future US tax dealings.
Oh what a nuisance!
The phoning America sounds like it's probably the easiest, as long as they don't keep you hanging on for ages.
It was about half an hour on hold (£££!), but about 5 minutes talking after that, and I now have an Employer Identification Number (oddly, you don't need any ID for that ).
Anyway, that's all done now, i have put the number on my W8-BEN forms so I won't get taxed 30% in the US any more! Hooray!
On the plus side, I used my hold time wisely, writing 3 more 100-word stories while I waited.
Good for you - it's lovely to think of 4 or 5 new people picking up your book every week.
I've been inspired to look at Donald Maass, too, thanks for the mention. Would you recommend the book, or the workbook? I am rewriting two thirds of a manuscript with the aim of resubmitting some time before Christmas and I like the way he talks about tension because that's what I am supposed to be adding (mops brow).
I haven't seen the workbook. I think the book itself is pretty clear - you can probably figure out how it applies to you without needing to be led through the process.
Good luck with the big rewrite!
Thanks so much! I need all the help I can get, this came at a v good time.
I hope it's useful.
I've just returned to my draft.
I need to find some grit and determination from somewhere as I seem to be lacking it at the moment - all I can see is the utter appalling crapness of my writing and it's taking all my self-control not to go down the road of 'I am useless! I'm deluding myself! I'm wasting my time!'
Anyone know any good inspirational quotes?!
Tunip not a quote, but an observation from a seasoned pro: I have never been able to, and will never be able to assess whether my work is good or not.
I simply cannot get the necessary distance/objectivity.
Or if I can, it's at the writing/ideas stage. By the second draft stage I have lost all ability to be a useful self editor.
My advice is to stop questioning 'is this any good' of yourself. Get it out there and find out!
The idea that it may be impossible for me to tell is oddly comforting!
In the beginning I was anxious about not being able to tell.
You'd hear folk talking about their editing and saying their work was better now, or improved etc...and I'd think how do you know?
Now I just do the work, content in the knowledge I'm doing the best work I can. Or trying somehting new. Not my job to say if I've pulled it off or not ...
There are certain things I did that I know improved it, and others where I think I went too far so may need to go back and nuance it a bit.
But otherwise I sent it off to a few friends who'd read the previous draft genuinely wondering if they were going to come back and say 'You've spoilt it, I liked it better as it was before.'
Anyhow, just one more draft now before I try subbing it, I hope!
Turnip - hang on, I'm on hols with your draft and will send full notes on return!
Don't worry, I'm very slow at the moment due to summer hols. I have a day to myself on Sunday and am going to go and read my draft in a coffeeshop.
I am finding very little time to write or edit anything. Our house seems to be some kind of community hub for neighbourhood children.
I hate it when people say "how's the writing coming along?" and I have nothing to show for two exhausting weeks.
How do you folks get anything done in school holidays?
I'm not, much. These hols are awful. I have a just-potty-trained 3yo who is constantly wanting me to go to the toilet with him, which cuts into the time when I'm not doing activities with the older two.
And I'd forgotten how much extra housework and cooking they generate when they're at home all day and not having school dinners.
Plus dh is having a horrible time at work so it's hard to write in the evenings.
My two main strategies are 1. DEMANDING time to myself at weekends and 2. focusing on the simpler tasks that I can do even with constant interruptions.
like the name change, turnip!
agree the holidays are difficult, the lack of routine kinds of percolates through everything
the major thing that's helped me has been a leg injury, tbh, although I wouldn't recommend it for any other area of life, for writing it's been amazing! oh, yes, and divorce ... when dc go to their dad's I'll have a whole week to write in. Yippee!
Sorry to hear about your leg injury, Ninah, but I'm glad it had a silver lining!
GrendelsMum, did you finish my book?
My coffeeshop-based book-reading was not a happy experience. I am holding fast to Wordfactory's post about not always knowing how good your own writing is.
Just got your email, Grendel. THANK YOU! I will read as soon as I can get the kids to stop squabbling so I can hear myself think
Great! Would you potentially be up for reading the first 5 (or poss 10) chapters of mine, to see if pace and characterisation has been stepped up?
Hell yes, I would absolutely love to! Send it whenever you're ready.
We can't let the 2013 revisers thread disappear, even over the school holidays!
So I'm checking in to say where I'm up to. Currently on my fourth (?) draft, I believe, heavily editing for characterisation and dialogue, and particularly for character-driven suspense. I'm inspired by Donald Maass's book Writing the Breakout Novel, and in particular, his idea that suspense is not about what is happening, so much as our emotional connection to the person that its happening to. For some reason, I seem to keep pulling back on the emotions - maybe because I'm trying to tick off various elements in the plot so that the mystery has all the appropriate clues given by the end? But the result is that chapters that should be sinister and scary are a little flat.
I read a great example of the power of emotional connection with the character recently, in one of C.M.Forester's Hornblower novels. All that's actually happening is a man trying to get to his new job, with his heavily pregnant wife and their toddler, and hitting a few delays. But the suspense and the tension is palpable. Great writing!
Started it last night, GrendelsMum. Very much enjoying it.
Other than that, I'm just checking in to keep this in my 'threads I'm on'. 3yo is back at preschool next Mon and then I can make some proper progress on my 4th draft. It's been a long and frustrating summer.
If you've just started, I could send you the even more recently updated version - now with added Romance Ekement!
Yes, please send the most recent version.
I was pondering the 'should there be romance?' question earlier and thinking yes.
So far, I'm finding Hank appealing from the get-go but it takes longer to connect with Lucille.
Damn damn damn damn damn. Was hoping that I'd nailed her a bit more.
I guess one out of two is half-way there!
Hi all, just checking in.
I'm finally back at my desk and ecstatic to be there. (Preschool was closed for the first two weeks of term, then I had massive computer problems which wiped out my first week of child-free time.)
I need to:
-rewrite the opening to make the tone match up better with the rest of the book
-do major editing through the whole book and especially the first half to clarify and sort out motivations particularly in relation to the heroine's emotional journey and complicated love life
-do various general bits of rewriting to sharpen up description and make the most of some of the extra research I've done in the last few months
-do that thing where you read the whole book aloud to check for infelicities, especially in dialogue
-finally go through and cut out every single word I can cut out
-proofread repeatedly and submit.
My biggest fear is that the whole thing might just be too emotionally complicated for YA, but I'm hoping once the motivations and relationships are all a lot clearer in my head and on paper it won't look like such a spaghetti-like tangle.
How is everyone getting on? Anyone else got moving again now the school holidays are over?
Hi - am saying hello as am a bit of a lurker in creative writing. I feel like edited and edited and edited my novel - have sent it off to a few agents but no luck.
It's funny you should say about that CS Forester novel Grendel'sMum as DH has just bought the lot - can you remember which one?
What sort of novel is it?
It's contemporary fiction. The plot involves crime but I don't think it's fast-paced enough to be described as crime. To be honest I've spent a lot of time stressing over exactly what genre it is!
GrendelsMum has had similar 'what is my genre?' angst.
I think she pinned it down in the end though!
Done my new opening
It might be better or it might be worse though, not sure.
Just checking in after a long haitus from this thread. Going over the 8th review/draft of my novel now, also finally beginning to think about the synopsis for (agent) submission, and trying to work out which similar authors have which agents. I think I've worked out my genre - "upmarket women's fiction" - literary but with mass appeal (I hope) . Really thinking now about how I market/pitch myself too.
It's lovely to see you back.
I hope I would have the stamina for 8 drafts if it turns out I need them. I am on my 4th and at the moment it looks like it's going to have 5 passes:
1. Motivation and character, adding new research
2. Sharpening description and flat language wherever possible (incl boring dialogue beats and passives in new bits)
3. Register of language, naturalness of dialogue
4. Pace, & cutting any surplus words
I'm starting to flag tbh. Don't know where I'll find the energy from if I need another draft after this one.
Hi Tunip. They're not 8 complete re-drafts - I think the last 3 or 4 have been re-reads with tweaks, changing words here and there, checking grammar and spelling. I would say the book's had 3 complete re-writes.
Good luck with your next "pass through". I'm rubbish at contributing to this thread but I do lurk
Is 'reading group fiction' a genre these days? I lot of agents seem to have it on their wishlist.
I find Twitter very useful for sussing out agents. They do a lot of tweeting of wishlists on the #mswl and #agentwishlist hashtags. (You can easily search on the hashtags without having to be signed up to Twitter.)
Thanks for the hashtag tips. I think reading group fiction is an excellent genre - I may allude to that in my pitch/cover letter.
Any pointers to websites with real-life examples of cover letters/pitches/ synopses? There are several published authors on MN so I might pose the request as a separate thread here.
This one is very useful because it has the agent she snagged with it commenting on why it worked for her.
Thanks Tunip. She writes very well. Will have a read and a ponder.
I thought I'd finished the first pass of the last draft but my new opening doesn't work. I need to rewrite it yet again.
I just KNOW I can write this with a killer opening - my heroine has a hawk fgs - but somehow I can't quite get there <bangs head repeatedly against keyboard until eyeballs pop out, skull shatters and head is a bloody stump>
Oh, I'm sorry to hear that Anything I can do to help?
I'm feeling quite chirpy for a change!
Thanks Grendelsmum. Glad you're feeling chirpy! How's it going?
I've done another version of the start today and it might be better. I need to give it a few days and come back to it.
It's the hawk again but with more and inter-avian violence and peril. It's not quite the full-on adventure beginning it might be but at least it doesn't read like the book's going to be a straight romance. (Found a Youtube video of a merlin fighting off a kestrel - how cool is that?)
I'm finding it really hard to know whether what I'm doing is making it better or just different, but it is possible this means it's nearly time to submit.
I'm going to treat the end of the month as a deadline (so I can do NaNo again) and go all out to hit it.
Same here - I'm treating the end of the month as my deadline for the currentdraft at least, and I think I'm going to make it comfortably, as I'm almost finished. Last week I was feeling pretty down about how badly it was all going, but the end is now in sight.
The laptop is being repaired as we speak, so that should make a massive difference - I should have had it repaired immediately, but kept struggling on because I didn't want to waste time...
I'll put it away for November, do some kind of Nano equivalent - I'm thinking about using Nano to plot my sequel out scene by scene in detail - and then return for a final pass through to polish and work on style (and perhaps to check on all the clues adding up), and then start sending to agents in Jan. I'm also thinking about asking a few writers I know if they'd be willing to read it, with a view to seeing if they'll recommend it to their agents... My ideal scenario would be someone reading it and recommending it as the best book they've ever read / a reasonable thriller, but I'll see how it goes.
Let me know if there's anything you want me to read.
Could I send you my latest attempt at the first few pages?
It's not long - I'll bung it in the body of an email. Thanks.
I am really struggling with generally being able to tell if something works or not. I can spot specific things perfectly well (like whether there are too many passives or whether the register of the passage changes) but stuff that is really subjective, like whether something would entice you to read on, is completely passing me by at the moment. I have no flipping clue whether my new opening is the killer start I've been looking for or will undermine the whole book by putting people off.
I just need a very quick impression of whether it works.
Delurking as I'm about to start first edit of my book of fairytales.
It's a new project I'm involved in, to write a book of 100 stories, each 100 words long (Drabbles). From the look of my editor's initial notes, there are a lot of tweaks and some stories that will need taking out entirely (too gory for target demographic!). I've got Monday earmarked to talk through changes with the editor. I have some ideas for replacement stories, just need to put in the work to get them down to 100 words.
I'm currently writing two more books of Drabbles, with an eye on another if enough of my gory stories are worth pitching at an older audience.
It's good discipline anyway, I'm getting at least 5 stories a day done.
Sounds fun, InMySpareTime.
Oh to write that fast!
Wow - that sounds huge fun! Hope it continues to go equally well. Intrigued by the gory 100 word stories...
There are actually loads to choose from. Scottish folk tales err on the gory side, as do Norwegian ones.
Greek and Indian tales about war gods definitely have a lot of bloodshed too. The hardest task will actually be narrowing it down to 100.
I'm just desperate to get this one out of the way and get on with something else. I haven't stopped finding flaws in it, though.
Am getting geared up to submit but feeling less hopeful than I've done for a long time.
Right, well, I've done it. Spurred on by you Tunip (so any and all rejections are your fault), I've gone and submitted the bloody thing today. Lets see what happens...
I've published my second ebook
I've also got the first print run of the paperback edition on order, and have pre-sold a fair few of them on the strength of my badly-glued mockup version!
(Can you tell I'm a bit excited about it?)
It's a collection of 100 folk and fairy tales, each exactly 100 words.
I'm keeping busy writing 3 more books for the series (my publisher wants to publish 100 titles, I get a cut of each for formatting and editing them).
What're you lot up to?
Congratulations on publishing the second book! Is it under the same name as the first?
I'm busy on the next book. Trying to make myself write rather than research, but it's a different kettle of fish in that the characters are all real people rather than figments of my imagination, so although they'll be able to evolve as I do the first draft, they will still have to evolve in a way that is consistent with what the actual documentary sources say.
It's kind of fascinating, trying to pull a properly shaped plot out of a mass of things that really happened.
Same name, via Smashwords.
I'm getting some great writing done on 3 more Drabble Diaries for the series: Gardening, Cycling, and Gory Stories.
The Gory Stories are the most fun to write, as they are totally fiction.
The Cycling and Gardening stories are harder to find inspiration for, as you said, it's harder to draw plots from real events. Even harder when there's a word count of 100 per story to stick to!
Out of 100 stories each, Gardening's on 10, Gory's on 5 and Cycling's on 24. I should really focus on one at a time to get them finished, but I write best when inspired, and having a choice of inspiration means I get more done overall (though it takes longer to finish them).
At some point, one will reach critical mass and I'll feel moved to push on with it to the end.
I seem to have a talent for formatting ebooks, and have slightly accidentally ended up being the person to format all 100 Drabble books as they're finished.
Both my Smashwords titles had no formatting errors whatsoever, which worked in my favour.
Somehow, though my work life is chaotic, I am a meticulous proofreader and formatter. I should find a way to make money from that somehow...
right, I'm back. I finished the novel, submitted the MS to two agents about 6 weeks ago. One came back and said no, other hasn't come back. I'm going to revise (AGAIN. Hopefully having some time away from it will give me fresh eyes and less fed up with it) and send out to some more.
I also have an idea for a second novel, and maybe when I'm on holiday next week and lolling around my in laws I'll have time to do some writing.
My paperbacks finally arrived, after I ordered them almost a month ago. The printers promised 7-10 days, and failed spectacularly on that!
I presold 52 books, and it was getting very tight on Christmas delivery, I'm getting the far ones posted this morning, and hand-delivering the rest.
Congratulations on submitting, Absy!
I love writing <happy sigh>
InMySpareTime - yikes! Self-publishing sounds stressful. Thank goodness you got them in the end.
Technically I have a publisher, but it's a new company and mine was the first book, so there's been a lot of ground-breaking and learning from experience.
Books are selling well, sold 5 more today, and someone told me they've found my book under their DD's pillow 2 nights running, which I'm taking as a ringing endorsement!
congrats InMy! That sounds amazing.
thanks Tunip. I also submitted a short story for a competition on New Years Eve. The difficulty I have is finding the time to write - I have a full on job and like to veg with DH a lot. Or too much. I need to build writing time into my routine.
I'm looking forward to term starting again on Monday, the DCs witter constantly, and their stream of consciousness really disrupts mine. I have many disjointed story ideas but can't focus on getting them into a coherent story.
Roll on Monday!
Hi. Just calling in. More of a lurker than a poster. Did post a couple of times on the 2012 thread?
Wondered if there is a 2014 thread, or whether you are just going to carry on with this one?
I am writing a book but it is non fiction. More like a text book but isnt! Definitely niche.
Wouldnt mind posting occasionally. Just to keep me on the straight and narrow so to speak.
I'm a long-term lurker too, haven't seen a 2014 thread so was intending to just keep popping in here.
We will do that until told otherwise in that case!
I do find it an odd thread, because once it drops off my threads I'm on, and a few days have past, I forget to look at it for another month.
Nice to meet you by the way. And congratulations on having books published.
I am not near that stage yet. And even if I was, I dont think that there is more than one other book in me at the most.
Can I ask how long from start to finish did book one take you.
I do mine in so many small pieces, and sometimes dont touch it for a couple months at a time. I started it about 5-8 years ago. I have forgotten exactly when. I will get to the end of it though. Sometimes I look at it and think that I am nearer the end than I think.
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