Hello there! I would like to start this post by saying, yes, I changed my blog theme. I know that it’s a bit jarring when one changes the look of one’s blog but it had to be done. I’ve recently come upon a few blogs with the same theme as mine. I know that there are a limited amount of free Word Press themes and that it’s bound to happen, but it somehow leaves me feeling somewhat less special. I think I’m actually following one of the people so I felt that it was time to change. I don’t want to be distracted from someone’s content by such a niggling little thing. Also, I really like this theme as it makes much better use of the space. We’ll see how it goes. I like to change things up from time to time.
Anyway, today I’m going to talk about my writing. You might remember from one of my posts that I am going to start working on revising a novel that I finished last year. I sent it off to a competition back in December and haven’t touched it since then. And then, all of a sudden, the urge came upon me to dust off the latest draft (Draft 5, that is) and see if I can make it readable. When that urge hits, as my writerly friends will know, it just cannot be ignored.
I’m not sure what your editing process is like, but I must have paper. I write things out long-hand and then type them up. I print out my draft and then scribble scrabble all over it and then add the changes to my Word document. It’s just the way I roll. The words flow from my brain, down the right side of my neck and shoulder and then all the way down my arm, past my fingers and into the pen which then puts it on the paper. Screens intimidate my words. They flee to the farthest reaches of my person and will not be coaxed to where they’re meant to be. I’ve tried so many times. Sometimes I even write my blog posts out on paper before committing them to technology. Usually those are my best and most well-thought out posts. (If this one sucks, I blame it on technology and the fact that the words are shooting from my brain to splat onto the screen in real time.)
Therefore, I needed my novel printed out so that I can work on it. I contacted this lovely company in Essex called Acors Press that we use for our printing needs at work and they have printed my manuscript for me. I would like to give them a little shout out here because I love them so much. I work in London and as you can imagine, people can be quite cold and distant in the city. I can’t remember how I happened upon this company, but a few years ago we needed something printed and I found them because they had the best rates. But they’re also the loveliest people. They are so friendly and their work is of the highest quality. If you are in England and need a manuscript printed out please do consider them. They are super nice and that makes a huge difference.
So, I received my manuscript in the post on shiny, high-quality paper and I had to show it to anyone who would look because it was fantastic to see it printed out like that. I felt like I was showing people my new baby. They oohed and aahhed appropriately.
And then I started reading it and realised why I didn’t win the competition. Oh my days…
That’s ok, though. I’ve got a plan. I’m going through chapter by chapter with a notebook in hand and writing down questions for myself to answer. For example, in one chapter I’ve got a character who isn’t good at lying. One of the other characters says so. Then a few chapters later, he can lie effortlessly. Also for each chapter, I’m making a list of characters who feature in that chapter and I’m going to re-interview them.
This is something that I really love doing. As you may know from earlier posts, character development is really important to me. I want to read about characters who seem like real people. Some authors are able to do this really well and some aren’t. I once read some advice from someone about interviewing characters to see what they’re really like. It sounds really silly and a bit mental, but it works really well. You probably won’t use the stuff that you get from the interview but it will help you to get a better sense for what they’re like and you’ll be able to convey that in your story a lot better. I interviewed my characters back when I first started editing the first draft, but the story has changed so much since that draft and as I’m reading draft 5, I’m finding a lot of character inconsistencies. It will be time-consuming, but I want to get it right so I’m willing to put in the time.
Another thing for my notebook is that I’ll have a list of items that the characters have in each chapter as well as key points to remember from the chapter. ie. So-and-so isn’t a good liar. One of my characters produced a rope from Lord-knows-where in chapter 10 or something. It was pretty interesting (and jarring) that he produced this thing out of thin air.
So, yes, this is going to be a painstaking process, but I think that it will be worth it to finally have this thing finished. After 3 years. It will probably be 4 years before I fully finish it. Oh dear… I need to wrap up this blog post and get editing!