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Groundhog Day – or a funny kind of déjà vu.

ImageI have been trying to finish my first draft of my first novel for some time now and every time I draw near to it, I get stuck on the ending and find myself involved in a big rewrite before I find myself at the same point all over again. This is where I was last Monday morning and here I was again today. I don’t know if it’s a sort of ending procrastination, meaning that I am putting off writing the ending. More likely, I think, is a feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the enormity of this task I have taken on of writing a book but I really do want to get to the end, honest. I just want it to be a good ending as well! During the time I have been writing this novel since April, I have come to realise that there is so much more involved than I first thought despite all the advice out there, no-one else can do it for you. In the end, it’s just you and your computer 🙁

I am right at the ending again now and more optimistic that I can finally get there now but only time will tell. Wish me luck 🙂
P.S. Please do let me know if you have ever faced this difficulty and if so, how you dealt with it. Thank you.

A Festival of Romance!

It’s been a good week for me, writing-wise and I wanted to let you know why. First of all, I am now working part-time rather than full-time which meant that I got a lot more writing done and what’s more, I could write all day and not feel self-indulgent! That’s a great feeling, I can tell you.

Secondly, I heard about The Festival of Romance which is taking place in Bedford, not far from me, on the weekend of the 8th November. There will be lots of romance writers and publishers there and they are also running some workshops. If you haven’t already heard of it, you should have a look online here.

I have also taken the plunge and decided to enter my first chapter into their New Talent award competition. Of course, I would love to win the competition but even if I don’t, I have paid extra to have my chapter professionally critiqued which I think will be very useful advice.

Finally, I have been reading lots of helpful advice from writing people on the internet encouraging me to keep my head down until I have finished my first draft and to not get tempted by the prospect of editing before I do so. I have already fallen into this trap to some extent and it has been really hard to deal with. So, I’m taking that advice, ploughing on and feeling much better about the first draft being completed soon.

I have added some new website links to my website as a result. Have a look in case you find them helpful and if you know of any others you’d recommend, do let me know!

Off to do some more writing now 🙂

To outline or not to outline, that is the question (with apologies to you know who!)

I have been learning a lot of new vocabulary since I started writing this first novel of mine. One of these words has been ‘pantser’, meaning a writer who just sits down and writes without necessarily having every aspect of their story planned out in their minds. I was definitely a ‘pantser’ when I started writing my novel but when I got to 70,000 words and realised I didn’t know how to end the story, with the help of Scrivener, I became someone who outlines the story first. Except that I had to do it in reverse and I am still going!

I have got to the point in the story that I wanted to change. I’ve changed it and then worried that was the wrong decision (aargh!) but I am trying to plough on and it really is a nightmare job 🙁 This is because I am outlining, writing and editing all at the same time and I feel like I might be going slightly mad in the process.
So no more flying by the seat-of-my-pants next time. I am definitely going to outline the next one before I start. That’s assuming that I finish writing, editing, rewriting, proofreading this one….

Here’s a link to just one interesting article I read on this very subject.

Part One – will the revising and editing ever end?

As I explained in my last post, I have been editing the first part of my novel and rewriting large chunks of the story too. I have been reading a lot about the three act structure and trying to make my novel conform to this which, if you are a writer, you will know is easier said than done. I do feel happier about the first part of the story now because I have slowed down the romance a bit and made the falling in love more realistic in the process (I hope!)

I have also been editing as I’ve gone along, using the notes I made on my hard copy, as well as the comments I have received from Authonomy users and a few select friends and loved ones but as I have also been reading a lot of tips for new writers about editing, this seems to be a never ending task!

For example, I find The Creative Penn to be a fantastic website and have used the school holidays to start reading all the emails I subscribed to receive from Joanna, as well as trying to keep up with all the new posts. This one from yesterday, was really useful for pointing out what editors will look for but it also frightened the life out of me! I like to think that I am very literate, with a background in foreign languages and some years of teaching English in schools now under my belt but there are still a fair number of things in the post that I feel less than confident about.

Then there was this list of an editor’s top ten tips from BubbleCow.

Again, it will be really helpful as I work my way through it but it is also quite daunting. So, what to do? Well, I know that I will ask a professional editor to work on my finished novel, when that day finally comes so for now, I can only do what I feel confident doing and accept that when I have done all I can, that is the time to hand over to the experts.

For now, it’s on to part two for more of the same. To quote another writer, ‘Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.’ 🙂 Good luck with your writing, editing, rewriting in the coming week and please do post any comments on how you’re getting on with the process.

At last, I am editing and rewriting!

Wow, I have finally broken the back of this in the past couple of days after a lot of procrastination. I started by importing my manuscript into Scrivener and then I split it up into parts, chapters and scenes. This took a bit of time but it also allowed me to move bits around much more easily and I knew I wanted to do this. I have also written a synopsis for each scene I have edited and/or rewritten and I have kept all the bits I have moved in a separate ‘scene’ to fit back in later.

Perhaps I should explain that I had received a comment from an Authonomy friend that my two main characters fall in love a bit too quickly and after some thought, I agreed that this was probably true. I also felt that this might be part of the reason why I didn’t know how to finish the story.

So once I had everything set, the editing part seemed much easier. I have also been rereading my first draft, making notes on a hard copy about the edits I needed to make, as well as looking at comments I have received from Authonomy reviews. It has therefore been hard but nevertheless, rewarding work and I feel like I have made tons of progress today. This wasn’t what I had planned to do today actually but on a rainy day, it seemed like a good plan and now that I have almost finished the first five chapters, the sun has come out 😉

If you are putting off editing, using a software package like Scrivener can really take away that daunting feeling. I would recommend it and it’s such good value. The lesson I have learned from this though, is that I need to write my next book (!), including an outline, in Scrivener first to save myself an awful lot of time.

Back to life and reality – post holiday blues…

DSCN7891So, I have been back from our wonderful holiday in Sardinia for a couple of days now. I have done all the chores, I have reacquainted myself with the Internet and I have suffered a bout of the blues about the loss of the simple life we enjoyed on holiday. But today, I feel reinvigorated and ready to move on.

I had planned to read the first draft of my novel so far (it still isn’t finished yet!) whilst on holiday and do a preliminary edit at the same time. Well, I did make a start but it was just too good to be on holiday so I didn’t finish it. However, I have just put in another hour’s work and feel really good for it. I am hoping to finish this within the next couple of days and also to review the comments I have received on Authonomy. If you fancy reading the first five chapters of my novel, the link is here. All constructive comments greatly appreciated 🙂

I am then going to try and use Scrivener to do my second draft but I think I am going to need a bit of time to work out how to use it to best effect. So, at least I have a plan in place and that’s making me feel much better and I have some great photos and memories of our holiday to keep me going too.
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The End…

So, I am now more than 80,000 words into my debut novel, as you may know. But, I am stuck on the ending. After much reflection, I have realised that this is because I haven’t got the plot right. I am therefore going to take a reader’s advice and read my own novel to enable me to write down all the main events and perhaps, move things around a bit. I hope this will allow me to make it work and to decide on how to finish the story.
I am off on holiday on Thursday and I have printed out my novel (160 pages!!!! Two to a page though to save on paper ;)) to read and edit whilst I’m away. Please God, this will give me some clarity.

I have been feeling really miserable this week, thinking that my writing’s never going to be good enough to publish to the world but I have realised that I need to take pride in having written so much already and in only six months! I now feel ready to read and edit so that when I return, I should be raring to go.
Have a good couple of weeks everyone 🙂

P.S. I bought Scrivener with my 50% off code as a Camp NaNoWriMo winner and having used the trial version a while back, I hope this is going to help me organise my novel much more easily. Any hints and tips from other users would be much appreciated.

Finishing my debut novel :(

So, I have just finished Camp NaNoWriMo and successfully written 10,000+ words – yay! But I have been plagued this week by the doubt that these were the wrong 10,000 words.

I have never written a novel before so I had an idea and then just wrote it as I went along. I got to 70,000 words feeling confident that this was the story I wanted to write. Then all of a sudden, I didn’t know where to go with the ending and I felt confused and frightened about where to take the story. I have read so much about writing an outline before you start but I really didn’t have one, just the germ of an idea. So I thought, well, I’ll just write and see what happens. And now I am worried that I might have to rewrite large sections of my novel all over again because the ending isn’t what I want it to be and along with that thought, will come a sense of inertia. You know, I can’t possibly rewrite all that, it’s too hard, it’ll be a mess. So, I am not writing at all, I am procrastinating.
I go on holiday next Thursday and I don’t know whether to take my laptop with me ( I have never done that in my life!) so that I can write if I want to. Maybe all those people I have scoffed at on previous holidays, sitting with their laptops in the sunshine, were actually would-be writers like me, struggling to finish their first draft of their first novel and therefore not to be mocked at all. I need help, guys, and would appreciate any advice you could offer. Thanks 🙂

Guess what? I'm a Camp NaNoWriMo winner!

I have just finished writing my 10,000 words and it feels great to have met my goal. Mind you, I know that lots of other people have met much higher targets but this was manageable for me and I honestly don’t think I could have done any more this month. The challenge will be to keep motivated to finish my novel now. I’m off on holiday soon and it would be wonderful to finish before then but I don’t think I’ll have time. I’m going to take some time away from the novel after that to give it time to settle before I start editing and move on to the next part of my journey. For anyone else doing Camp, keep up the good work and good luck!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

School's out for summer!

Well, we are officially on our school holidays now and this has meant that I have really been able to step up a gear as far as my writing is concerned. I really want to meet my word count goal of 10,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo and today, I hit 8,052 words!!! I am so pleased. I feel absolutely confident of meeting my goal by the end of the month. I will still have to finish my novel of course but I am hoping to finish the first draft this summer and then to give myself some breathing space before tackling any editing. I have now written more than 80,000 words for this novel and I really never would have thought myself capable of doing that so that’s another thing I am pleased about. Happy holidays to all teachers and to all children out there 🙂