Back to the drawing board

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).

Haiku review from the Bookshelf Gargoyle

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!

What’s been going on?

As you can see, the folks at Facebook seem super interested in what I’ve been up to, so I thought I’d give Zuckerberg (and everyone else) a bit of an update.

The new book is coming along well. I’m probably about 85% through the first draft and am happy with how it’s coming together. I’ve tried to plan this novel more than I did with DITD (is it too soon to start abbreviating The Devil’s in the Detail?!), but I’ve found that when it comes to actually sit down and write, I veer away from the plan and go where I think the characters want to go. I’ve lived with these characters now for almost 12 months, and my understanding of what drives them and motivates them has changed a lot. Some of them have changed occupations, upbringings and even genders! This evolution of the story reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite writers, Paulo Coelho, who compares writing to setting off toward an island in a row boat and the more you row the more you realise you are rowing toward an entirely different island (If you’ve got a couple of minutes, check out the full quote here).

So with the draft nearing completion, my mind has started drifting to other parts of the novel – it’s title (I think I’ve decided on one, but will wait for guidance from my editors), the cover and the book’s marketing. Should be some exciting times ahead!

I had hoped the novel would be ready for Christmas, but the book is much longer than the first and after 12 months of writing, I’d hate to rush it to meet some arbitrary deadline that I’d given myself. That said, I do hope the draft will be completed over the Christmas break when I have a little more time. So if you’d planned on stuffing people’s Christmas stocking with book 2 this year, I apologise. Might I suggest you opt for The Devil’s in the Detail? As online sales don’t allow for a personal message and autograph of the author, if you contact me I’m happy to write a personal message to you, scan it and e-mail it to you – all ready to be slipped inside the cover. Just let me know who to make it out to.

I often get asked how DITD is faring (that acronym really isn’t going to stick is it?). I must admit my energies have been primarily focussed on writing at the moment, but every now and again I get a lovely e-mail, comment or tweet telling me that they enjoyed the book. The other day, the novel featured in a blog of an actual London cab driver who I’d been in contact with for his thoughts. This lead to an e-mail from a black cab enthusiast in Germany. Oh Internet, how you do surprise me.

So that’s about it from me. I’m off to Nepal for some trekking at the end of the week which will be a welcome break. The last time I did a trek it was through Spain and inspired my current novel, so who knows – book 3 might be in the Himalayas!

Hopefully this update will placate our friends at Facebook and I’ll stop getting reminders to post updates! I hope everyone is well and I’ll touch in after I return from Nepal.