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Another writing support thread

(105 Posts)
LaBarbera Mon 30-Sep-19 18:49:23

Hi all,

I've been lurking here for a while! Now breaking cover to ask if anyone wants to chat during drafting/revisions/submissions/whatever circle of Hell you're in.

Mine is, I think, a literary novel of sorts, historical and with a fantastical element. I don't know if it's good, though feedback is promising, but I do know it's the best thing I've written so far. I am currently on my third draft, and copying over/writing in a new document, which is going well. I'm anxious about wordcount, though, as it's short at the moment and neither I nor my mentor can see anything obviously missing or any big pacing problems. I'm hoping that taking the time to draw out those moments of discovery or change or suspense will take it into short-but-publishable territory.

Anyone else? smile

AppropriateAdult Mon 30-Sep-19 21:12:25

Hi! Am slooooowly getting to the end of my second draft; there’s one problematic chapter that needs to be reworked and then it’ll be ready to send to a couple of trusted friends for feedback. It’s literary fiction. I have similar issues with word count; I tend to write quite sparingly and with the first novel I completed (now languishing in a drawer somewhere) I found it difficult to get it to 70,000 words. This one is now at 76+ so I think it’ll be all right.

LaBarbera Mon 30-Sep-19 21:20:56

Hello @AppropriateAdult, I really like your name! I hope everything goes well with that recalcitrant chapter. Relieved to hear you are a fellow under-writer, because it seems like so much of the advice out there assumes that people over-write, and that has never been me.

I realised working on this novel that with previous projects, I've stopped work one draft (at least) too early. Because I also produce very tight clean drafts, it can be too easy to start feeling there's nowhere else to go. So I'm really in uncharted territory with this one. smile

Nuffaluff Tue 01-Oct-19 20:15:17

Thanks so much for starting this thread LaBarbera and hello appropriate. I think I’ll join.
I’m at a very different stage though. I had written around 40,000 words of my first novel, in different tenses, from different points of view, different styles, etc. It was a mess, so I’ve binned it.
However, I started again and I’ve just about finished the first chapter. The same novel though! I can’t let go of the idea - I love it too much. Three years I’ve been toying with it now. The problem is the ideas are too big I think. It’s not straightforward to write (but then maybe nothing is - I don’t know).
It’s got some literary pretensions, because that’s mainly what I read (nothing like always reading prize winning fiction to put you off writing! What I write never seems good enough). I think it’s more UpLit, I think is the term. My writing class teacher said she think it’s got commercial potential. It’s sort of a romance, except it isn’t. I’m going for the David Nichols type, Eleanor Oliphant, Elizabeth is Missing type of reader.

LaBarbera Tue 01-Oct-19 21:13:43

Hi Nuffaluff! (Also a great name.) Sounds like you have a great concept -- sometimes those need more than one run at those. It sounds intriguing, too. smile

AppropriateAdult Tue 01-Oct-19 22:24:26

That sounds interesting, Nuffaluff! I know how soul-destroying it is to dump work that you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into, but sometimes it has to be done. And it won’t be wasted, what you write now will be better because of that extra 40,000 words of practice. What sort of writing class are you doing?

My ‘recalcitrant chapter’ is giving me a lot of hassle. It’s because I need to make my MC do something that’s unkind, even a bit cruel. And even though it’s understandable in the overall context and will be justified by things that are revealed later, I’m finding it really hard to ‘make her’ do it. Which I know is ridiculous!

Howtotrainyourhamster Wed 02-Oct-19 08:28:13

Hi, I’d like to join too, if that’s ok. I’ve posted on other threads re my tale of woe (first novel got agent, but no publisher) and now writing my second novel though it has been a hard process to embark on after the first experience and feels very far from completion!

I’m similar to nuffaluff in that I got to about 30,000 words, decided one character/ point of view was wrong and pretty much started again. Also similar in that I am grappling with different times/ characters/ points of view but this is the story that has been in my head for a while and I also can’t let it go (they say the story chooses you!) Also writing literary fiction, for want of any other way to describe it.

Would be great to have a thread that helps keep morale up during the whole, drawn out process!

WispyTurnip Wed 02-Oct-19 14:24:54

@Howtotrainyourhamster, we talked on a previous thread, I think. My first novel wasn’t bought by any of the first batch of editors it was sent to, so have just done a major rewrite in line with their feedback and it’s going out again to a new set, as I try to move ahead like you onto my second novel. Agent is encouraging, but that’s her job!

LaBarbera Wed 02-Oct-19 14:37:54

Yay! More people smile I hope you're all doing well today? I just wrote a sweat-inducing scene involving an old flame of my protagonist who now kind of has power of life or death over him (no pressure, right?). Procrastinating on other freelance work, of course, but my entire working and writing life is a process of useful procrastination.

AppropriateAdult Wed 02-Oct-19 14:40:39

Got a little bit done today, hopefully more later. Am trying to just write this troublesome section without thinking about it too much, and see what comes out in the wash. Am so close to finishing this draft that it’s frustrating to be stuck!

WispyTurnip Wed 02-Oct-19 14:51:42

Sorry, I meant to say hello to everyone. I have no manners!

Literary fiction, have agent, rather nervous about starting second novel. First one going out to second set of agents.

The first one caused me endless structural problems, which I ended up trying to retrofix, so I’m trying to iron that out in advance this time.

@AppropriateAdult, if this particular bit is proving that hard, it sounds as if there’s something you haven’t worked out yet — you say that her action is ultimately understandable, do you fully know why she does the unkind thing, even if it’s not revealed till much later to the reader?

My first novel has a historical person as it’s main character, which means I often know what she did, but needed to work out why!

LaBarbera Wed 02-Oct-19 15:30:45

I hear you, @WispyTurnip. My protagonist is also a real person and one with an undeservedly bad reputation. I have to remind myself not to assume the absolute best of him just because I know he's been unfairly judged by people who haven't actually read him.

@AppropriateAdult, I agree with WT. If it isn't feeling natural yet, then something probably isn't quite in place. It might be worth living with the idea for a little longer, talking it out, whatever helps.

LaBarbera Wed 02-Oct-19 15:31:54

Unfinished thought there re. my protag: I mean to say, that complicates the business of trying to figure out why he does what he does at key moments!

LouisaMayAlcott Wed 02-Oct-19 16:23:07

Hello all, thought I'd join this thread. I'm just finishing edits before sending my novel (historical dual timeline narrative) out to agents. It's the first thing I'll have submitted and I'm scared but excited all at the same time. I've been working on it for 18 months and I really want someone else to love it! Then I'll be planning the sequel so I can crack on with it during NaNoWriMo so I need to get a decent outline written this month I'm definitely no pantser.

WispyTurnip Wed 02-Oct-19 17:25:17

PS Typo in my last -- first novel is about to go out to a second batch of editors, not agents. And its not it's. Grr.

@LaBarbera, one of my issues with my novel based on a real person was that it was difficult to know how much my readers would be likely to know about my protagonist, so it was hard to know what expectations or preconceptions they would have. Do you use real names, and/or events, and how much have you felt able to invent? I started off very close to known events, but throughout successive drafts, have gradually moved further from them, and compressed timelines for effect.

Wordplough Wed 02-Oct-19 17:52:57

Hi, I'd like to join please! I'm in all those circles of hell. Drafting manuscript, editing parts of it, submitting. I've been writing for a while, had a near miss getting an agent for the last book, shelved it, just finished MA and looking to get the current book published. Lit fic.

LaBarbera Wed 02-Oct-19 21:54:05

Hi @WispyTurnip, good question! That has been a real source of anxiety for me, especially as I have some training as a historian, though not in this period. I am fortunate, though, as my protagonist isn't that well attested outside his own writings. A lot of the standard biographical data is hypothetical. Still, I deliberately chose to focus on periods when he wasn't actively in public life: when he was in prison, and when he was dying. (Cheerful story. )

I still get the cold sweats about whether my version is real/believable enough. But I have a point-of-view character who is a winged immortal being. So surely that should manage the reader's expectations a little. smile

everythingcrossed Wed 02-Oct-19 22:52:42

Ooh, budge up, just sent my first novel out to a bunch of agents. Some positive responses but no one has signed me yet. Here for hand-holding and, hopefully, cracking open some champagne along the way (or cheaper sparkling substitute if everything I read on these threads about royalties is true...).

AppropriateAdult Thu 03-Oct-19 07:36:31

Exciting times, everythingcrossed! Keep us posted.

LaBarbera Thu 03-Oct-19 08:47:39

Yay @everythingcrossed! Yes, please keep us up to date!

LouisaMayAlcott Thu 03-Oct-19 11:22:40

Sounds positive everythingcrossed!

Howtotrainyourhamster Thu 03-Oct-19 13:24:48

Hi @WispyTurnip yes probably did talk on another thread! Good luck with the second batch of editors - it’s so nerve wracking! Good you are getting on with something new, it took me a while.

Good to hear about everyone’s experiences, and to have people at all different stages of the process. @everythingcrossed, good luck, look forward to hearing your updates.

How much time do you all spend writing? At moment I have 2 days when kids are at school and I’m not at work - which makes it a slow process. Find it hard/ impossible to get much done otherwise, at evenings/ weekends!

everythingcrossed Thu 03-Oct-19 14:03:07

Thanks for everyone's good wishes. Btw, the champagne was for anyone who has good news to share, not for me, hope that was clear.

LaBarbera Thu 03-Oct-19 14:12:55

Of course! I actually had a non-book-related celebratory kir royale earlier because I just got my ID card in my new country of residence. smile sprays prosecco everywhere I moved here, not because of the novel as such (that really would be putting pressure on the thing), but my love for my protagonist and his writing has a lot to do with it. However it goes, this was a good decision!

Now I'm doing my daily bit of revision before I go back to some far more boring paid work. Hope you're all doing well today.

thenewname Thu 03-Oct-19 16:18:25

<squeezes in>

20k into second book! now stuck

Just accepting the fact that the v reputable agent who said she was very intrigued by my 1st novel and asked to see the full two months ago is NOT going to reply now. Although I nudged her very, very politely a few days ago.

Aargh, it's so annoying, even a form rejection would be better than this! Just shows not to get hung up on things even though I loved her.

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