Stop and Think time
Yes, I am at that point, the two thirds of the way through the novel point… or rather, me and my co-writer are. We started our adult contemporary novel at the end of February this year, so have had five months working away at it. I had this vague idea in my head that we should have it finished by October, and it’s looking as if we will, despite the various incidents (and there have been many) that have slowed down the process. Life often gets in the way, but, in the this case, it’s woven itself into the story too. You know that feeling, when you think like a writer and use what’s given to you? Well that! It’s a tad cranky at times, when something a bit grim happens and you’re thinking… Ooh, I could use that! Hands up to doing this though, and to working real people into the novel too, quite innocent people, sat on train platforms, in train carriages, standing around and minding their own business. Crikey, if only they knew!!! There are a whole host of locations that have inspired scenes in the story too, so much so that a scene or chapter can literally come into being quite at random, depending on where one or the other of us have been.
So, now we are about to embark on the last third. Normally when I write, I carry on
until the end in a kind of mad writing frenzy, and then go back, once the first draft is complete, to start the editing process which can then go on for some time, producing as many as seven drafts (as was the case with Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan.) Not this time though. This story has been assembled thus far in a rather haphazard way, with chapters being moved and spaces being left for chapters as yet unwritten. We now have an (almost) complete two thirds and, with a bit of a quandry as to the direction of the last third, and two or three possible endings, we thought now might be a good time to stop and think. In theory, we have enough ideas to continue to the end… but what if we are missing something? What if we could do a better job of the last third if we took time to look at what we’d done? What if there are plot holes, or threads that fizzle out and could be made more of?
So, that is what we’re doing – taking time out to stop and think. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading through the first 65,000 words again. I’ve devoured every bit of it. And I decided to do two things with this edit: to add any new bits in red, and to highlight any themes, threads and recurring imagery in blue. This has been really useful in focusing me and reminded me of areas to be picked up on and built up in the last third. Once edited, I printed it out, and, although it isn’t finished, got that goosebumpy feeling that every writer will recognise when you see your work as this huge pile of paper. My goodness, talk about a lump in the throat moment! You forget the amount of words you have written when your work is on a computer screen. Scrolling down through the pages on a computer screen just doesn’t give you the same sense of achievement somehow.
So what’s next? Well, I’m going to read it again. I’ve printed it in double line spacing and single sided… why? Well, LOADS of room for notes!!! I expect to be making lots of them! From the screen edit, I noticed a huge chunk where the pace is too slow and needs zinging up, and I’m sure there’ll be a host of other things that come to light in the next reading. But overall, I have to say, I love it! I think we are all our own worst critics, so it’s a pretty fab feeling when you read what you’ve written and love it. It doesn’t always happen, and more often than not I go through a lot of angst and head in hands moments before I get that feeling. It still needs work, of course it does, and the plotting needs to be tighter and developed a whole lot more…. but, I have that goosebumpy feeling when I read it, and there are moments that have brought me close to tears, others that have made my heart race, and one part that had me squirming behind my hands! I’m sure some of this is because I am co-writing the novel. Co-writing really gives you chance to bounce ideas off someone else and both work to your individual strengths, and it means the writing always seems fresh somehow and full of surprises. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we will be able to launch this little morsel on the publishing world… after the edits, of course! Here’s hoping they like it!
Do you journey through your writing in one go, or allow for stop and think time?