Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The real work of novel writing

In today's blog post I'm going to take you behind the scenes of writing a novel. Hands up if you thought writing a book meant sitting down and tapping away approx 100,000 words on your laptop in some kind of sequence and hey presto - finished!

It's ok because actually that's what I used to think before I started to learn my craft...

Many authors will write draft after draft after draft before getting to the finished product. I know when I was writing scenes for my first novel, some had multiple edits as I twisted and turned the plot (and because I was writing it over a period of 10 years). Just remember however long it takes and however you do it, there are four stages to take yourself and your book through before you submit the finished manuscript - and they require equal amounts of your time, dedication, focus and energy if you want your work to be the best it can be.

The four stages are:

1) First draft - Writing the story freely from beginning to end. Let the words flow and don't worry about indulging yourself - that's all part of the fun of writing something new for the first time.

2) Re-work - Checking sequence, timing, realism of plots and sub plots, depth of characters and descriptive text. Break the story down. Analyse each of the above separately and then bring them all back together. If something isn't working for you, now is the time to change it before you go too far down "that road".

3) Bulldozing - Cutting out unnecessary scenes, making the story more succinct and word counting so you fit the length of a novel in your chosen genre. If you weren't sure about a part of the story in Stage 2 but you left it in, this is your final chance to make the change. Guaranteed it will be more work if you left it until now, but better late than never!

4) Final edit - Includes a line by line analysis (painstaking work!) and grammar, spelling and punctuation check. Ask somebody to do this for you if you prefer. Not many of us have the luxury of an Editor, but friends may be willing to help you proofread. They will see things within your story that you've overlooked - and trust me, you'd rather hear this criticism now than after you've gone to print.