Monday, 13 August 2007

Novel Progress - Still editing (and a bit of writing too)

Did some more editing over the weekend - another three chapters. Seven down only twenty-three to go. MY GOD. How long will this take? All I'm doing is reading through and making little notes in the margins!

I'd (wrongly) assumed that I'd just breeze through this stage as though I was reading someone else's novel. Was I wrong! I keep hitting paragraphs where I think "This needs to be changed. This bit should come before that bit and that bit should be completely cut" and out comes the pen and, before I know it, there are arrows and scribblings everywhere. God knows how I'm going to make sense of it all when I start editing individual scenes. "Move on," I ordered myself several times. "Just move on or you'll never finishing the read-through."

So yes, this stage is going to take a while.

I also promised myself I'd write a short story over the weekend (as I didn't write anything last month) and, while I didn't actually finish the story, I did start it.

When I write short stories I can't get going until I've got the right voice and the right first sentence and it took me several abortive attempts before, finally, I had the right first line and the right voice. Of course that might all change when I edit the story later (often the second paragraph turns out to be the best opening) but at least I got going. Now all I need to do is finish the thing! Anyway, it felt good to be writing again so hopefully I've beaten the block that struck me when I finished the novel last month.


Jen said...

Ugh, the editing process sounds rather gruesome. I'm currently toying with the idea of bypassing several parts of the novel-writing process and putting huge black cross through the bloody lot and starting again :0(

Leatherdykeuk said...

I loathe editing (though not as much as copy editing) and wish you a speedy time of it.

A. Writer said...

Editing isn't much fun is it? I knew I'd hate this process. And I do! I much prefer the creative part to writing.

I googled Miss Write Competition just to see what else came up apart from your blog. I can see why you get so many hits from people googling it.

It's annoying that there is no specific date set but in a way I'm glad or that day would be way too scary and I'd get into trouble for having my phone beside me all the time.

As I've said before I'm not expecting a call but if it happens I'll let you know!

SallyQ said...

I'm the same with the Climate Camp comp at the moment, Cally, though that's not quite as prestigious as the Miss Write comp. They're not mentioning it at all on their site, though they're supposed to be announcing the winners at their rally tomorrow, but I thought they might have contacted any winners beforehand.

Keep up the good work with the editing. It's a boring job but someone's got to do it.

liz fenwick said...

You do get to love editing.....she says having rewritten AG six times. Hang in there :-)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I hate the beginning part of editing, where everything just feels like a big mess (mine always does, anyway). But as it starts to come together, I find it gets to be more and more enjoyable as I sense my draft turning into a book. Hope you do too.

Jude said...

I've also had a bit of a go at editing this week, just to ring the changes and help me feel a bit more organised. As I was writing my first draft (which is three quarters complete), I was starting to make decisions about the characters, and I was keen to register them in the maunuscript as soon as possible. I actually feel a lot better about things now and have discovered that I like editing! Weird, but I find it easier to improve something bad than creating something from nothing.
Anyway, have just done a quick Miss Write Calculation. On the Cosmo website they state that they are reading over 7 million words in their search for the winner. Bearing in mind the entries were all around 3000 words each, that means they've had about 2333 entries...
Does that make you feel any better? The wait is killing me - it must be announced in the next week or so, surely?

J x

CTaylor said...

Jen - Ha! Editing is SO gruesome I'm considering writing a new novel instead! I won't though...I'll plod on *plod, plod, plod*

Leather - Thank god it's not just me! No point me looking for light at the end of the tunnel yet though as all I can see is a big dark blur!

Sally - I've got my fingers crossed for you for the Climate comp. Here's hoping you hear some (good) news soon!

Liz - you wha'? LOVE? Six times! *drops down dead* *resurrects self in order to type* So it does get better then? Gawd I certainly hope so!

Zinnia - ah, you agree with Liz. Okay, getting a bit more hopeful now. Roll on the next 3 zillion drafts then!

A.Writer/Jude - A miss write entrant called Sarah (won't give her surname in case she wants to remain anonymous'ish - Hi Sarah!) emailed me to let me know she'd emailed LouiseC to ask if they'd decided on a shortlist. The response was "I can't let you know until the shortlist comes out on 14th September". So I guess that means we'll just have to sit it out until the results are published in the next issue of Cosmo. That said, if we don't get a call before the end of August we can pretty much assume we didn't make it.

Gawd, I'm so impatient. I'd rather receive an email saying "Sorry, better luck this time" than have to wait and wait and get more and more pessimistic as each day passes!

Kate.Kingsley said...

"often the second paragraph turns out to be the best opening" ~ I love this idea, Cally! I am going to write this down on a post-it and refer to it often. It seems like the ideal solution to "too much show, not enough tell".

I can think of a few short stories I'll be cruelly be-heading over the next few days!

Best wishes
Kate K

SallyQ said...

Thanks Cally!

I agree about the second paragraph. The first paragraph is, I think, when you're feeling your way into your story, so by the second paragraph you've warmed up.

Then again, I once wrote a story, then decided I liked a much later paragraph as an opening and used that instead. That was the one that was commended in the Leaf Books Science Fiction comp.

Fionamac said...

When you're editing, how do you stop yourself losing concentration when reading pages you've read many times before - especially the the first few chapters...or is it just me?

Sarah G said...

Still waiting to hear about Miss Write. The closer to the end of August it gets the more anxious I seem to be getting!
I hope one of your visitors can bring good news sooner rather than later. :)
I made a promise to myself I would not email Louise Candlish again!

Helen said...

Gawd. This has put me off editing my own now ;) Mind you Liz and Zinnia's comments are positive. I'll try and cling onto them!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cally, having lurked for a few months and thoroughly enjoyed your blog, I thought I'd pop up and say hi and all the best for your editing. I'm nearly two thirds of the way through my first draft of my first full length novel and it's been so inspiring to watch your progress as I slog away.

I also did the Miss Write thing and am currently on the Hooks of Tenter. What puzzles me, is how the hell do they make a decision on a mere 3000 words? You'd think they'd make an initial shortlist, then contact people and ask for some more - at least the first three chapters, surely? - then pick their 'proper' shortlist and winner. It seems a massive gamble for a publisher to make on such a small sample of writing. Hmm...too much time spent thinking about this while willing the phone to ring!

Anyway, best of British to all who've entered.

CTaylor said...

Kate - it's not a bad tip. As Sally said you're often "warming up" when you write your first paragraph and the story only really gets going much later. I remember reading Miss Snark's blog about novel openings (and people would send her extracts from their novels) and she'd often strike out the first couple of paragraphs and write "your novel starts here".

Sally - good point. You (one) often write yourself into the story and it only really starts much later. Your opening cut really paid off with that Leaf story :o)

Fiona - I find it helps if you change the font and size of your first few chapters and print them out. That way you trick your brain into thinking it's something different.

Something else that's quite good is to turn it into HTML and use a font other than Times New Roman and have a look on screen. Often, when I've had a story published on an ezine, I see it in a totally different way once it's formatted and on screen. But then it's too late to change anything!

Oh - and two more tips. One - read it aloud. Two - if you search through my archives you'll see a link to a free bit of software that reads out text. If you listen to it being read you'll hear it differently than you do when you read it in your head.

Sarah G - thanks for commenting :o) I SOOOO wish Louise had given you an answer - one way or another. If they haven't decided the shortlist yet it would give us more hope and if they had (and they'd contacted them) at least we could chill out and stop waiting for the phone to ring!

Helen - do cling onto Zinna and Liz's comments. I'm trying to!

Anonymous - thanks so much for de-lurking! I get so many Miss Write visitors each day and none of them comment so it's lovely to hear another 'voice' in the wilderness! Congrats on getting two thirds of the way through your novel. Not long now. It does seem a bit of a risk, as you say, that they're relying on just 3,000 words to pick a winner to write an entire book. Then again I'm sure they'll find someone whose prose just sings and is naturally witty (the next Marian Keyes?) and that'll be enough to convince them the writer can do the job. They (people in general) do say that if you can pull your reader in with your first page you've got them for the rest of your novel. Hmmmm...writing this is making me feel pessmistic about MY first page now!

Anyway, do keep commenting and visiting and do let me know if you hear anything.