Thursday, 4 March 2010


Yeuch its a bit dusty in here. Where've I been? Working mainly but also, ahem, on Facebook. Have decided however that the occasional two-liner on FB isn't doing it for me, so am planning to blog more regularly again.

Couple of things brought me back here.

One was wanting to talk about reading out loud.

I've been told many times that reading your writing out loud is a useful part of the editing process but I've never really taken it on board. Then last week my writing class (taught by the splendid Stephen May) had a reading session in the cocktail bar of a local pub. It was a brilliant night, with some fantastic stories (and the cocktails weren't bad either).

Earlier in the week I chose the story I wanted to read. It was one I had recently entered into a competition and was quite pleased with. I practiced reading it out loud. Eek. How come I hadn't spotted the repeated words, the clunky sentences, the dodgy dialogue. All fixable and I did alot of editing before I read it in the pub, but I really wish I'd done it before entering it into the comp.

Ah well, lesson learned. In future I am going to make reading aloud a compulsory part of my editing (might even progress to taping myself and playing it back - gulp!)

Second thing was The Novel. Still Novel #1 although Novel #2 does exist in a skeletal form.

Quick catch up - wrote novel in 2008-9, March 2009 started sending out initial chapters and synopsis. Throughout 2009 I received 6 rejections - but all with positive feedback- and one request for the full manuscript. Nothing (not even a rejection) has resulted from the request for the full ms despite me sending a follow up enquiry.

Anyway I sort of decided to shelve novel #1 and get on with #novel 2. But novel #1 wouldn't stay quiet. It's a story I really want to tell, and has a central character who just won't stay quiet. So, I got out my rejection letters and tried to work out exactly what they were saying. Turns out they were all saying pretty much the same thing, they loved the concept, they even said they loved the writing BUT they didn't 'fall in love' with the book.

I re-read my novel.

I didn't fall in love with it either, and with the benfit of a six month absence from it I saw the glaringly obvious - no bloomin' conflict. At least not enough of it, not of the immediate and necessary kind anyway. All my conflict was in the past and my characters were just dealing with the repercussions . One of the knock on effetcs of this was that most of my characters were pretty flat. I wasn't showing them at their fictional best ie when they were under real pressure and facing immediate conflicts. This is all basic 'how to write a novel' stuff that I'm theoretically well aware of and yet had somehow managed to miss out on in practice.

So. Major rewrite about to begin. I have gone through my ms with a pen and scribbled sweeping edits - 'drop this character', 'completely rewrite this scene', 'do I really need this chapter?', as well as a few ticks here and there for bits I'm happy with. It's almost like starting all over again.

I've got a month off work and I'm determined to finish this edit by Easter. I'll keep you posted.


Queenie said...

Lovely to see you back in blogland! I always ALWAYS read out loud before subbing, it's amazing what you pick up. (Reading a whole book out loud makes your throat sore, though.) I also had a similar experience with the first round of subbing my book, nice feedback from agents but no bites. They said the narrative wasn't strong enough, so I've worked on that a LOT before sending it out again last month. I'm now back in the waiting game, ho hum. Sounds as if you're doing all the right things with your book, and if the central character won't shut up you don't have any choice, really. Best of luck with it.

Karen said...

Good to see you back!

I do read out loud, it's a great tip - another is to switch your Word document to "reader layout" in "View" which makes it look like a book. Anything that tricks the mind into seeing it differently seems to work :o)

Good luck with the rewrites, it's great that you've had such positive feedback.

womagwriter said...

Good luck with the rewrite.

Jumbly Girl said...

Thanks for all your good wishes - all going well so far, although its definitely becoming more and more of a rewrite than an edit

Good luck Queenie I really hope your book make sit this time.
Karen - thanks for the tip - I use Open Office but it probably has a similar option

Bernadette said...

Good luck with the edit - sounds like you're in the zone!

Jumbly Girl said...

Bernadette - I was in the zone, just got knocked out of it slightly by rejection from agent who has had my whole ms for nearly year. Still she said lots of lovely things about it and didn't come up with any new criticisms so I think I'm working in the right direction

Bernadette said...

That is a shame.
Still, as you say, if her comments were consistent with the changes you've been making it's further confirmation that you're doing the right things.
Good luck!

Karen said...

Sorry to hear that Jumbly, you must have got really close. You can do it!

Jumbly Girl said...

Thanks Bernadette and Karen