Sunday, May 29, 2011

The novel: An Update!

Last night wasn't my usual Saturday evening.

It was, for a change, rather exciting! Two hundred and ninety-four pages later and I had on my desk eight months of hard work and sheer bloody-mindedness!

I would love to think that sat there is pure gold. A novel ready to go. By the end of next week I'll have a book deal. But no. Believe me, really, it's a no.

Why not? Because writing is not easy. It has a long way to go until it really is the novel I want it to be or anywhere near a publishable standard.

So what happens from here? Read on...

Where it all began

Ok, I'll admit it. This isn't the first time I've had a crack at novel writing. Back in the days of University (a decade ago now!) I started my first novel. 

So when I decided to start writing seriously my plan was to re-do that novel. Only I knew that I wasn't capable of doing that without learning the craft of writing. So I decided to try smaller projects first to help me improve. This is where the blog and setting goals came in.

Then back in September/October last year I had a bit of a light bulb moment. Only it wasn't a light bulb it was a dream. I dreamt up a story and a title, 'The Shortlist.' Well that was rather handy and I decided to start writing that novel.

And now?

Well it's miles away from the original idea and has the working title of Grace Escapes. I'm saving The Shortlist for book number two!

So having started in a completely muddled order I can celebrate the fact that in its present state it is at least:
  • About the right length
  • In an order that makes sense 
  • Has page numbers
So that's a start. So what else do I need to do? Well, quite a lot. Starting with this list:
  • Re-structure - I need to go through and systematically look at the storyline and re-structure it. Some of it works - some of it doesn't.
  • Research - There are several things I need to find out for certain without glossing over them.
  • Texture - On occasions (call it bad habits) there are parts that read more like a script than a novel. I've learnt what my bad habits are in shorter pieces but its so easy to let them slip! Show don't tell, Miller!
  • Magic - Every work of fiction needs that little bit of magic. The sparkle that makes it stand out. 
  • An irresistible hero - When I started this I did it from one point of view. I've now added the hero's point of view. It is much better for this but I need to more clearly define his story.
What next?

I'm very lucky to be a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers' Scheme. As part of this you get a full appraisal of your manuscript from an expert. The deadline for this is the end of August. As you can imagine they get a mad rush at the end of August with the majority of the 250 manuscripts getting submitted then.

So even though most of the time you get advised to walk away from your manuscript and come back to it, I am in fact going to plough on. I already know some of the structural changes that need to take place so I am going to plan this first. I'm hoping to have it sent off before I go on holiday on 2nd July! I have a feeling that may be a tad overly optimistic given the research I want to do but it's what I'm going to aim for.

My precious!
So that's where I'm at! I have to apologise for being rather quiet on the blog front. To try and make up for it I have promised to fill you in on the storyline so watch out for some posts in the coming weeks about that!


  1. Ooh...I'm nearing that stage in my novel too! Good luck with yours! It does like more daunting but more 'real' when printed out, doesn't it?

  2. Best of Luck with it Katy :) Well done getting this far.

  3. Well done, Catherine, that's a huge achievement! It looks lovely and chunky and official, sitting on your desk like that. Good luck with the edits and research, I have every faith in you!

  4. Thank you, Jin, Trevor and Joanna! It really does feel real once you've printed it out! Although I did think my printer might go on strike! Onto the next stage! :)

  5. Wow! That is an amazing stack of paper! Really good luck with getting it all done by July 2. It's really interesting to read your process so far as well.

  6. Huge huge achievement and I shall kick the next person who says writing a book is easy. I'm a little way off your stage but approaching it rapidly. Thank you for the check list, good luck with it and I will pre-order when it is listed on amazon! Hugs and congratulations. Mx

  7. It really does look great sitting all printed out like that. Wishing you lots of luck as you surge ahead this next month!

  8. Well done in completing the novel. That's the easy bit, now comes the hard work: edits, rewrites, checking, tweeking. At least, that's the hard bits for me. Good luck and don't give up.

  9. Thank you Clare, Morton, Rebecca and Kit! I wonder if I should include my pre-orders in covering letters ;-)

    I think you are right about the hard work part, Kit! Onwards...