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.