Five Year Writing Goal
I’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published. This is my monthly recap on how I’m doing.
First step: write the first draft. Tick!
Second step: edit the first draft. Tick! Now I have a second draft.
Third step: find beta-readers. Tick!
Fourth step: write third draft. About to begin.
1st Step: First draft of The Reluctant Scribe
I started writing on the 27th July and I finished on the 31st October 2013, having written 88,000 words in three months. I did some ‘editing’ as I went along, looking back on the previous day of writing before I started each new day, but resisted going back to the beginning each time.
2nd step: Editing the first draft
I let the novel simmer for a month. Then I bought and am working my way through Alan Watt’s book, The 90-day Rewrite. I entered the first 300 words into a Chapter One Competition, which I didn’t win but making the entry spurred me on. And I submitted the first 10,000 words into Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller Competition. This forced me to write a synopsis.
3rd step: Finding beta readers
I have several writer friends and am on a BA Creative Writing course. You would think it would be easy to find people prepared to read through my novel and make a few comments. But, no, it was harder than I imagined and, despite good intentions, several friends failed to complete the task. I fully understand why. We are all busy, busy, busy.
But, one fellow student did read the whole 88,000 words and made detailed notes. He commented on a character that needed fleshing out and on parts of the plot he wanted to see explored in more detail. He pointed out some inconsistencies and made very constructive suggestions for improvements. Gold dust. Another student read the whole thing and made some general statements about tone and style, also very useful. More gold dust. Another student is interested in China and can speak Chinese. He has read parts of it and has given advice about improving the authenticity of the story from a Chinese perspective. More golden dust.
4th Step: Write 3rd draft of The Reluctant Scribe
I am very grateful for all the comments and I have let this feedback bubble away in my brain. Next week I will sit down and begin to make amendments.
- Minor typos I need to correct.
- Problems with hyphens and dashes I need to resolve.
- A few inconsistencies in the narrative that I must fix.
- Swapping two chapters around will bring an important character into the story at an earlier point.
- An additional scene will help to flesh out this same character.
- Extra descriptive passage to add, in order to help the reader visualise the setting.
And, I already have a critical-reader lined up for the next stage, an established writer who has kindly agreed to read it through. No pressure! I must make it worth her time and effort.
I’ve described why I abandoned my previous novel and written an analysis of the problems: Learning from Mistakes.