breakthrough

As previously mentioned, I’ve definitely been struggling with motivation lately. My brain feels that the book is done and there’s no longer any need to think about it anymore. As I type this I realise that I’m the same in all areas of my life. In maths I stop being interested once I’ve got the concept behind the proof. I don’t feel the need to work through the teeny details.

Having said that, I have finally had a breakthrough today. I realised that it’s not about writing a book that is “good enough” by some standard, it’s about writing a book that I would be proud of. I forced myself to think about what I’m going to do with this book when I’m finished it (if I don’t win the hotkey books competition!) I realised that I want to be able to submit a book to editors+agents that I would be happy for them to publish as is. That I would be proud if they published as is. Now I know they won’t publish as is, but I need to get it to a stage where I would be happy if they did.

I hope that makes sense to you. In any case it makes sense to me and has given me the encouragement to work hard at my novel again. Success!

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the highs and lows

I’ve been spending a lot of time distracted lately, what with my parents visiting, me preparing to go overseas and general life stuff. But even more distracting than all of those things are ideas. I keep finding myself lost in the dreamland of ideas for the next book I want to write. My mind has become tired of the novel I’m finishing up and no longer gets excited by those characters. I can make myself interested in it again but it doesn’t happen spontaneously.

Today though, I wrote an ending I like. I wrote it on paper, unlike the rest of the story, and I think that helped me focus my attention. So hooray for learning ways to focus and hooray for endings.

Now to finish it all up in the next 4 weeks…

2nd draft woes: endings.

I have chopped and changed and rearranged my novel and now I’m feeling almost happy with it. There’s just one problem: the ending. I knew it wasn’t that great as I was writing it and now it’s even worse. I don’t know whether I’d be better off writing one really beautiful paragraph and leaving it open ended or writing an extra three chapters so that the ending in my head is another mini-adventure. Perhaps I need to throw out the ending in my head and try to think of a new ending that fits better. One thing’s for sure and that is that what I have is not good enough.

Fortunately I don’t think I’m alone because, as smirk inducing as this comparison is, Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld novels never seem to me that they end quite as well as they begin and continue.

So does anyone out there have any stories of endings gone wrong? Or methods for writing endings? Or examples of great endings? let me know.

rearranging

I’ve found that a lot of my second draft (so far) hasn’t involved rewriting things but rather rearranging. My beginning had a huge stack of backstory that wasn’t necessary right away so now I’m jumping straight into the story instead. I’m also trying to insert chapter breaks which is fairly tough. It’s forcing me to really consider my pacing and where I’m spending too much time.

In terms of actually rewriting things it’s mostly dialogue – I have a much better feel for my characters now and I’m enjoying individualising their conversations.

I can see my story improving and becoming more interesting as I chop and change it. There’s still a ton to do before I get into really nit picky stuff and perfecting individual sentences but I have to say that I’m enjoying this stage quite a lot!

taking stock

Well I gave my first draft a full read through and the main thing which is obvious to me is that my writing improved drastically over the course of the novel. This is good, I suppose, but means that the first half of my novel will need huge changes (really huge). The second half feels much better though, especially in terms of pacing, so that’s something.

I think I’ll need to spend a few evenings planning the changes to the first half before I start writing. It needs a little bit more… excitement.

on advice…

Our teachers always used to worry that we would believe everything we read on the internet. They spent hours drumming in the fact that Wikipedia was not a real source. But they needn’t have spent so much time on it I think. My generation knows better than anyone how easy it is to put trash up online. We know intuitively what sort of websites we need to check, and how many, before we believe something.

As for writing advice, well, the internet is full of it. There are pages and pages telling you how to write, what to write, how to edit, how to get published and so on. It goes on forever but it’s mostly trash. The authors of the webpages have (mostly) never published a book themselves and there’s a lot of bitterness. There’s also a plethora of instructions to contradict those found on publishing company websites. The bitterness is indicative that getting a novel published is hard work. The contradictions are a warning that the author is out of touch with the present circumstances. In any case, I do not wish to go there to learn how to write.

Before beginning my second draft I decided to find at least one piece of reputable advice. I chose Neil Gaiman because I like his books and he seems adept at using the internet… Without further ado: the most trustworthy piece of second draft advice I found in about 10 minutes of searching.

Update.

I finished my very first, first draft last night which means that it took 3 months… far less time than I had thought it would. Obviously the editing will take quite a while but I’m feeling pretty pumped :). I gave myself a year to finish a book and it’s all going well.

Now, onto the next one? Or should I head straight into editing?