Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Novel Madness - Update

I am probably starting to bore everyone at this point regarding my blasted novel, because if I am boring me, then I am most certainly boring you.  But the update is this.

I finished editing of chapters 1-3, with the knowledge that chapter 1 needed turning on it's head.  So, I took a break and went back to look at my pitch letter, and the story goes something like this. 

The first pitch letter was brutal, to the point that I had to squint an eye closed to avoid seeing it too clearly, the second one was better as it got a kind of structure to it, the third one, I was told by hubby seemed confident, self assured without being over the top.  This was the one I sent off to my four readers/victims.

I got lots of good advice, which was indeed brilliant, so I made all the subtle changes, and ended up with version 4, well really version 44 because I kept re-doing it.  So there I was kind of happy, you know in that well, maybe, probably, ah yes it is grand, sort of way, when I realised that after I put in 'dear Annie Agent' address lines, date etc, that the blasted thing was a page and a half long, which in the rules of pitch letters is a big no, no, hard enough to get someone to read chapters and synopsis, without exhausting them with the pitch letter.

Soooooo, yes I cut the blasted thing, slashed sentences in half, which at the start made them look less attractive, stayed up until 2 o'clock this morning, changing bits, until probably the 99th version stared back at me from the laptop and I said fine, over, done, dusted, never to be revisited, unless sanity is prepared to be risked, etc etc.  And in my sad, trying, making progress at the speed of a snail way, I was happy.

Sooooooo, today after doing the day job that pays, I planned to clean my house, get that spring cleaning started and feel all fresh and marvelous.  But did I?  Of course not.  The masochist in me pulled out chapter one to believe it or not, tentatively review how I was going to turn it upside down. 

I started by writing completely new opening lines, rewriting them until they looked reasonably good, then tried to incorporate said lines into original opening chapter.  I was halfway through this when I made my discovery.  What was that you might ask?  Or not! 

Well I discovered that the narrative voice which now begins the chapter (the new bit) was very different to the rest, and better which is good, but not so good when you think about the rest of it which I now know I will need to change, and just like a breeze that takes you by surprise on a calm sunny day, a voice from one of my readesr/victims floated by, and I remembered her saying of the first three chapters, that the narrative voice in chapter 1 was weaker than the narrative voice of the other two main characters in chapters 2 & 3.

I guess, I had chosen to ignore this piece of knowledge, but now that it has jumped up and bitten me, after spending the last 2 hours working on the chapter, I am going to walk away from it, because 2 hours ain't going to fix it baby.

Anyway, I will return to it, because I am sad, mad, bad, all rolled into one, but in the meantime, here is a link to some good rewriting advice for anyone interested.  Don't all stampede at once!



  1. I've often wanted to call over as I've seen you leave messages on other blogs I like and follow.
    Glad I did! Great blog. Hi!
    Well, at least you know that its improving all the time and going in the right direction. I'm redrafting a novel as well at the moment. I've just got to the stage where I'm allowing people to read sections to get advice - but its so hard! When one thing changes so much has to change as a result and the more work I put into sentences the less likely I'm going to be open to changing them in future. It is interesting to hear how other people in the same position approach it.

  2. Sock, if I had a fraction of your dedication! I am so jealous. There is no way that all your hard work won't pay off in the end.

  3. Hi Aine,welcome. Good to connect with you. And yes you are right, as you say the more you put into sentences the less you want to change them, which is one of the reasons why I have delayed addressing the chapter again, everything about it was perfect, pace, grammer, spelling, clarity etc etc, but sadly it just wasn't good enough. So I better go back to it!

  4. Thanks D'oub.....but when is the END? A week, a month, a year, a lifetime...ahhhhh!

  5. Well, here's an idea. Why don't you set yourself an end date - when you will send off your three chapters off, or submit your novel to someone official for a critque... something like that. If you have a deadline, it might stop endless re-writes? Just an idea...

  6. You're working so hard, well done on, it'll pay off. And thanks for that link, I printed off the advice and am going to have a read now.
    I know how you feel chapter one is really hard -its what comes first to the attention of the agent or publisher we want to like it.
    If chapter two has a stronger voice, maybe you wrote your way into the novel, maybe chapter two is chapter one? Or chapter one could be boiled down to a prologue...all probably very very very bad suggestions as I havent seen your work!
    Maybe you should leave it for a week, work on the later chapters and see if something magically clicks (very unscientific techinique!) I better shut up, bad advice is worse than none! Take care, Niamh

  7. Thanks D'oub... the deadline is end April, but tomorrow I am going to take a break, I need to come back fresh to chapter 1. I keep telling myself, that just as you want to give up, you shouldn't so I won't!

    Ah Niamh lots of good advice there, I guess there is no magic formula really.

    The 3 opening chapters of the novel are 3 different narrative voices, and that is the way the novel works throughout, except for the odd chapter given over to lesser characters. Chapter 1 I thinks needs to remain as chapter 1, I just have to make it a whole lot better!

  8. On the contrary, far from being boring, the travails of the writer are infinitely interesting. Don't ask me why, but they are. As Niamh said, it will pay off. The time of rejoycing WILL come.

  9. I hope so Dave, but either way for reasons not particularly clear to me, like the infamous Arnie said 'I'll be back'!


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