I'm pleased and proud to announce I've now completed the first draft of my novel! You know, the one I started nearly a year ago, which made me give up writing womag stories and almost made me drop this blog? (Phew, that was close!)
My aim at the start of this year was to complete the first draft by the end of June (easy!) and the edits by the end of the year (we'll see...) This is the first time I've completed a novel although I've started a couple before. Got to 17,000 and 55,000 words with earlier attempts - this one's ended up at a respectable 81,500.
It's full of gaps and boring bits, but I hope there's a few gems and that the whole thing is salvageable.
Here's my Plan of Attack:
1. Copy all the sections into one big document. For some reason I wrote every section in a new Word document. Now they all need putting together in the right order.
2. Buy a lot of printer paper. I've found this at £20 for 5 reams on Amazon which I'd guess is about as cheap as it comes.
3. Print off and read novel, scribbling thoughts in a notebook as I go.
4. Edit 1: Make decision whether I should keep the story told in a chronological order, or play around with the structure and sequence of events. Will probably make use of techniques such as Sarah Duncan's cards-all-over-the-bed at this stage. Construct novel in the chosen sequence.
5. Edit 2: Starting from the outside in (see link to Sarah's blog above), first I'll tackle the major problems. Cut the boring bits, add some extra scenes (there are already a few in my head!) I'll also need to do a few bits of research - every now and again there are instructions to self written in capitals eg CHECK WHEN RAILWAY CAME TO WORTHING. I never wanted to break the flow of my writing, so didn't stop to check these facts as I went (1845, by the way).
6. Edit 3: The novel is written in several view points. Each section is a different view point, headed up with the POV character's name and the date. Most are third person except for one main character whose sections are in first person in a distinctive (I hope!) voice. So now I need to go through all sections for each character and ensure their voices are consistent and distinct from each other.
7. Edit 4: Add pretty details, setting, atmosphere, use all the senses etc. When writing short fiction, this would normally be my first edit.
8. Add the prologue and some appendices I have in mind - historical facts etc.
9. Edit 5: Check for readability. Tweak sentences, cut repetition etc.
10. Write synopsis and covering letter.
11. Edit 6: Final read through.
12. Edit synopsis and covering letter. Agonise over them. Wring hands and agonise some more.
13. Research online and in Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and decide on agents to submit to.
14. Post submissions. Drink large bottle of wine. Start new writing project in a futile attempt to forget all about this one.
I'll no doubt ask writing buddies for help with bits I'm not sure about, and will read bits out at my writing class if I'm feeling brave enough. I'll also read the best How To books around, including Nicola Morgan's Write to be Published which I've already begun.
So - wish me luck! Also for those of you who've written novels, does this sound like a reasonable plan? The novel at the moment feels like a big shapeless lump of unproven, unbaked dough. I need to turn it into a beautiful crusty sliced loaf, light but satisfying to eat.