Posts Tagged first draft of novel


The editing of Little Museum of Hope is now complete. It is winging its way off to be proof read. Hurrah!

Daffodils in Chester

Daffodils in Chester

Sarah, my Ruby Fiction editor, was full of wise advice and suggestions to improve the overall story arc and pace. She also has eagle eyes that spotted several inconsistencies in the manuscript, such as ages of characters which didn’t tie in with the music I’d mentioned, plus I had someone being 22 in 1981 and 50 in the present day. And I spotted an engagement ring change from sapphire to diamond half way through a chapter. This has taught me that going forward I need to be rigorous in keeping a detailed timeline and lots of notes for each protagonist. Every day is a school day, as they say!

I’ve also been learning about Instagram. You can now find me on there as @sallyjenkinsuk. I don’t have many posts to my name yet but will get more familiar with the platform eventually. If you’re an ‘Insta’ person please drop by and say ‘Hello’.

Since I last posted I’ve also had a big ‘0’ birthday which involved family, gin, a weekend away in Chester with two schoolfriends both hitting the same age (obviously) and prosecco. This leads me to: Never think you are too old to write a novel or to be published: through all the ups and downs of my writing career I’ve never specifically been asked my date of birth or how old I am. But, if you meet me in the flesh, my face might give the game away!

Finally, I spotted a great blog post from Kobo Writing Life on writing a fast first draft. I like to get the first draft completed as fast as possible so that I know the whole story and can then go back and flesh out/delete/change as required. But writing 60 – 90,000 words is never quick. One piece of advice in the blog is to write the whole novel in bullet points in order to get the complete structure down on paper while it’s in your head and without getting bogged down in description, dialogue and all the other minutiae. I am very tempted to try this next time I start a new project.
What do you think, will it work?

Little Museum of Hope by Sally Jenkins

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Planning a Novel and the First Draft

I’ve been busy with a whiteboard and pretty coloured Post-It Notes trying to plan my second novel. There’s no ‘right’ way of writing a novel but, in my opinion, it helps to have some idea of where the story is heading. So I’ve taken novelist Bella Osborne‘s advice and tried working backwards from a pivotal moment in the plot. For example, if the pivotal moment is X stabbing Y to death in a fit of anger in a remote field, then scenes coming before that must show X procuring a knife, Y doing something to make X angry, X travelling to the remote field etc. etc. novel planning with post-it notes

My plan looks very nice and it’s got my brain into gear but I know I will inevitably veer ‘off-piste’ as I get deeper into the story. That probably won’t matter and will make the writing process more exciting (the book is meant to be grip-lit!). And if I get totally lost then I’ll come back to my plan.

I intend to write the first draft as quickly as possible, NaNoWriMo style. But I can’t wait until November so throughout April I will be doing my own private NaNoWriMo. I want to write as quickly as possible to keep my brain focused and the story continuously moving forward in my head. The resulting manuscript will be for my eyes only and will require a lot of additional work. But I find it less frightening to edit and play around with words I’ve already written, until they’re at a publishable standard, than try to write to that standard in the initial draft.
And I will be repeating the mantra of writing tutor Alison May, “It’s OK to hate your first draft. It’s OK to hate your first draft.”

Finally I leave you with news that Bedsit Three (another grip-lit novel) has been accepted for inclusion into Kobo‘s ‘Deals Page Spotlight – Thrillers’ promotion for the first two weeks in April. Hurray! And, of course, Bedsit Three is also available on Kindle and in paperback.

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