I know I said my second novel was “75% done” and that was five years ago (Ok, six years ago). And I know all of you have done your part, The Devil’s in the Detail saw a resurgence in sales in 2019, solely based on your word-of-mouth recommendations. But the fact is, I’ve been busy. Be honest – so have you.
The good news (and I think we could all do with some good news lately), is I’ve devoted the first three months of this year to working on my writing and some other business ideas, taking my first break from corporate life in over ten years. When I revisited my second novel and reviewed what I’d written, it had some good parts, but much of it was sketchy at best, with some glaring gaps in the story. At its core – I didn’t really believe the characters I’d written.
Seeking inspiration, I joined Writers Victoria and attended two excellent classes at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. Diving Deeper into Character, by Annabel Smith, focussed on how to make three-dimensional characters really come to life by using different techniques to describe them. Goals, Motivation & Conflict, by Alli Sinclair looked at defining believable goals/quests for my characters and putting conflicts and tension in their way. Both sessions were extremely insightful, helping me to finish my novel’s synopsis and re-start my first draft (Chapters 1 to 10 have been completely re-written). If anyone is interested in attending classes at Writers Victoria (or trying to do some writing in the break), let me know and I’ll happily offer some advice if you’d like.
During such an unprecedented time in our lives, I hope everyone is safe and well, staying connected with friends and family and trying to be positive, where possible.
Now with the website updated, I’d best get back to the book. It’s 75% done, you know.
So it’s been over a year since my last blog entry (Harper Lee is more prolific than I am!), so I’ve decided to write a brief update on where I’m at with my second novel.
I’ve written over 120,000 words which is 40,000 more than The Devil’s in the Detail. The only problem is … the story had gaps which I thought would magically fill themselves in. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t – and the last 6 months have been spent chipping away at sentences and paragraphs I didn’t like, while putting off the prospect of re-planning the entire story.
So having finished moving into a new house (and neighbourhood), I’ve decided I need to pull the trigger on going back and re-planning the second novel properly (or as properly as I can muster). This has involved mapping the current story onto approximately 50 speech-cards with a brief synopsis of every scene/beat, grouped together into chapters. I’m actually not finished yet (end of February is my goal), but it’s finally allowing me to start seeing the wood through the trees.
To assist, I’ve been using a cool little application called, Scrivener. It was recommended to me by Tracey over at Carpe Librum (a cool book blog if you haven’t checked it out). Not only does Scrivener allow you to create a ‘plan’ using virtual cue cards, it also allows you to then type that scene (instead of Microsoft Word). Then when you decided to shift a scene/chapter you simply drag it to it’s new position. Given my current novel is a story seen through the eyes of multiple characters, it also allows me to keep a track of which characters are focussed on throughout the story. It also provide a lot of nice little features like full-screen mode, which shield me from YouTube and Reddit (mandatory) and setting word targets for each session (nice to have).
Two posts in two weeks – this is becoming spam! Just a quick note to share a very nice review I received for The Devil’s in the Detail from the lovely Bookshelf Gargoyle. The review contains a review in Haiku format, which is surprisingly the first haiku review my work has ever received (and dare I say, the best). Click here to check it out.
So it’s now been 465 days since the release of DITD. Isn’t it a little late to be submitting the novel for reviews? In some ways, it’s like newspaper running a review for Avatar (Did I just compare my novel with one of the most successful films of all time? Ok, ok – how about Gigli?).
But the truth is, reviews like this are really important for independent writers like me. They help to get the message out to potential new readers, they give us constructive feedback on where we might improve and they give us a warm and fuzzy feeling when we get it right. This particular review has made my day.
I’m excited to have started my second draft of my second novel. I have re-written Chapter 1 (several times last week actually) and think I’ve finally got my protagonist right where I want them!