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.
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
- 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.
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.