Monthly Archives: May 2015

Finishing my First Draft – The End of The Beginning

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”          – Winston Churchill, 1942.

Let’s skip forward a few decades. Wednesday May 29th, 2015. The day I finally typed ‘The End’ on the manuscript of the first draft of my first novel.

Picture the scene: On typing the final letter of that final word, I printed out the last page, placing it carefully on top of the perfect stack of paper beside me. The early morning light shone through my window, illuminating the hallowed manuscript. I looked at the items on the desk – a cigarette, a single match with which to light it and a bottle of the finest champagne . . . wait a minute, I’m confusing my life with Paul Sheldon from ‘Misery’.

Here’s what really went down . . .

You may remember from an earlier post, I have been wading through the quagmire that was the climax of my novel, Let Sleeping Gods Lie. Months and then years slipped by as I fought to satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends I had created for myself, without losing faith in the entire story. Let’s just skip to the after-dinner coffee and say I failed to do that. I had a stark choice – ditch the whole thing mid sentence and put the 80,000 plus words on ice, plough on indefinitely or fudge a solution that’s somewhere between the two.

I always did have a sweet tooth . . . The Fudge

So . . . after taking counsel from a couple of writing buddies, I did ‘end’ the novel. Satisfactorily? No. The story has more holes than a mole-infested lawn. However, I did give a brief summary of what needs to happen and to whom so that the story reaches the original denouement I had in mind. It was nothing more than a few paragraphs, written synopsis-style, but it means my story is more or less complete. More importantly it means I can put that all important first novel behind me and move on to Book Two (more on that in a future post).

In a recent interview we did for Joined Up Writing Podcast, I asked author Daniel Ribot for his best advice to aspiring novelists. His words of wisdom were simple: Come up with 3 ideas for a book . . . . and write the worst one! His reasoning was based on bitter experience. The first novel you actually complete has a good chance of being terrible – or mediocre at best. I now realise that the best way to learn is to fail.

So what went wrong?

In essence, my outlining process was thinner than Victoria Beckham. I had a basic and incomplete chapter plan married to a dysfunctional seven-point plot outline, which gave birth to a wayward, unmanageable novel-child. I’ll quit this metaphor while I’m ahead.

Anyway. Despite that, I still love the premise of my story, along with the protagonist and villain(s) of the piece. There are loads of scenes and even whole chapters that I’m still really proud of and I’ve been writing long enough to know that nothing is wasted.

The End of The Beginning

So, my beginning has come to an end and it’s time to move on to the next phase of my novel writing journey – Book Two. I hope you will join me and follow the inevitable ups and downs, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the blog.

What have been your experiences with that difficult First Draft? What have you learned? I hope this post has given faith to those of you who have struggled and I wish you the best with your novels – be it the first, the second, the third . . . oh you get the idea.

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Write Up to Date #4 – Coming Up For Air

Resurfacing - Photograph courtesy of Anita Gould - Flikr
Resurfacing Photograph courtesy of Anita Gould – Flikr

If anyone has been paying attention, you will notice I am more than a week late with this post. Life and, unfortunately, Death pushed my writing to the sidelines for a while.

Sadly, my Grandad passed away on May 1st. It was sudden, unexpected and in a foreign country, which complicated things even further. He will be sorely missed.

There has been lots to deal with – both emotionally and practically – and I am only now coming up for air. It will be a while before things return to normal, but my desire to write again is resurfacing and I will be pushing myself to reboot and start again this week.

Target Review

A quick review of the targets I set two weeks ago:

1. Summarise end of Novel Number One and type THE END – COMPLETED (more on this in a future post)

2. Write 1500 on the crime story – 300 WORDS

3. I WILL sub at least one piece this week – NO SUBS

4. Edit and release this week’s Joined Up Writing episode – COMPLETED BETA READERS EPISODE

5. Complete Phoenix Writer’s challenge – NOT COMPLETE

Completing the novel – even in a very roughshod, abbreviated manner, was a big milestone that I still haven’t really had a chance to consider.

This week’s targets

I still don’t feel completely back in the game, but let’s try some light creative stretching for my first week back. This week’s targets:

1. Write 1000 words on crime story.

2. New Blog Post.

3. Record new Joined Up Writing Podcast.

Wish me luck and I hope you are all feeling productive and positive. Let me know what you’re up to and make sure you hold me to account!

Happy Writing.