Construction of a Novel: Revisions

Ahhh, novel revisions. Feedback has returned, notes have been made, and I am currently wading through it all while fighting the almost constant urge to procrastinate. Once I get in there and start making changes, it’s fine, but actually making myself get on with it has been harder than I anticipated. It feels so daunting from the outside, but once I’m immersed in the manuscript I realise it’s really not so bad after all.

Revising stories has never been my favourite part of writing, but it’s always incredibly satisfying once it’s done. That feeling of pruning, shaping, polishing. Adjusting this and that to get the story just right. Adding details here, cutting extraneous words there. It’s a great feeling when it’s working.

Novel revision is an order of magnitude greater than revising a short story, mind you. And I don’t even have anything massive to change here. There’s nothing glaringly wrong (which was a relief), but there are a cluster of things that, once implemented, will definitely enhance the story. It’s weaving them in that’s the tricky bit.

I’ve been here before, but it’s never felt quite as momentous as this. Maybe because this novel feels so different from the previous ones. Maybe because it’s that much more personal. I have a need to do this one justice that didn’t strike me the same way with the others. Maybe I just believe it in more.

No pressure, then.

Advertisements

Doomsday & Daddy’s Girl

Sale announcements! Woo!

I recently sold my apocalyptic/parallel universe/love story, ‘Doomsday in Springtime’ to Galaxy’s Edge. I wrote this flash story several years ago and it’s always been a surreal little piece of my heart, so I’m delighted it finally found such a great home.

And I’m now free to announce that ‘Daddy’s Girl’ will be appearing in the Robots and Artificial Intelligence anthology from Flame Tree Press. This is this story’s third sale, although its previous outings were online and in audio, so it’ll be lovely to have it in beautiful hardcover format alongside a wondrous lineup of fellow contributors. Check out the fabulous list on Flame Tree’s blog.

It’s also my first-ever sale to a British market, which has long been a goal of mine. There’s something special about selling a story in my own country (and whoa, getting paid in my own currency… fancy that). The anthologies that Flame Tree produce are beautiful books, and I couldn’t be happier for one of my stories to have found a home here. It’s due for publication in September, with pre-orders available from August. Watch this space for updates!

 

Artemis Rising

Earlier this month, I got to host an episode of PodCastle for their annual Artemis Rising event. I’ve been an associate editor (slushing, proofreading) there since January 2017. It’s so great to experience the other side of the editorial process, and the PodCastle team are a magnificent bunch of people to work with.

But this was the first time I’ve been out there in front of our audience. Eep. The story I hosted (‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby) was my favourite from the Artemis Rising call (and its sister stories – one released each week in March – are all amaaaazing, so this is high praise indeed). It was an honour to be able to introduce it and share my thoughts on what I loved about it.

You can listen to the episode here, where the story is also available in full in text format.

PodCastle Episode 512 – ‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby

Enjoy. 🙂

Moon

It’s one of my favourite sci-fi films. It is so underrated, probably because it’s not a huge, SFX-laden blockbuster full of action movie tropes. It’s quiet, and subtle, and intensely moving. It has an eerie quality that on the one hand is obvious (a guy living on the Moon all on his own, starved for human company), but on the other is hard to pinpoint. You expect something disturbing to happen, but it never quite does, and then when the reveal hits you see what’s been there all along and the full unsettling nature of the premise swamps you.

It asks important questions about how we value life without ever being heavy-handed or even hitting you with its own conclusions. It lets you reach those on your own, and although it’s heartbreaking, there’s a silent resignation to it. It’s beautifully shot, it feels all-too realistic, and it has the most incredible soundtrack courtesy of the delicate stylings of Clint Mansell:

I’ve been thinking about this film a lot lately, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s on my mind. It’s a masterclass in storytelling, with gentle, devastating twists and a painfully sympathetic protagonist. It’s one of those stories you wish you’d written. It deserves far more recognition than it gets.

I think it’s time for a rewatch.

2018 Is Go

I’m feeling it’s time for a progress report, if only to keep myself on track.

 

ink, letter, note, office, paper, table, wood, writing

I’ve spent the last few months focused exclusively on finishing my novel, which was time extremely well spent, as I got a draft completed and it’s now with beta readers. That’s pretty nervewracking all by itself (people are actually reading this thing now… eep), but I’m looking forward to having a break from it before diving back in for my next round of revisions when feedback comes in.

In the meantime, I’m planning to get back to some short story writing. I’ve written several pieces of flash this month, one of which is already on its first submission, so that was a nice way to dip my toes back into short fiction. I’ve also got several story drafts that have been awaiting revisions for ages now (they tried so hard to tempt me away from novel writing, but I HELD FIRM). It’ll be great to get back to some of those and sculpt them into worthy stories.

My submission list currently has a very healthy seventeen stories doing the rounds, and I’m hoping to get a few more out there soon. 2017 was a slowish year for me, sales-wise, but I’m hoping things will pick up again this year.

All in all, I’m feeling really positive about my writing at the moment. Now to ride that momentum for the rest of the year!

Construction of a Novel: First Draft!

Well, that took long enough. I began this particular novel-writing journey around five years ago. Yup. It’s only taken me half a decade to wring out a complete draft. Argh. I did not envision such a drastic length of time, and I certainly didn’t plan for it to take this long, but various factors contributed to it taking vastly longer than I expected.

Short stories kept tempting me with their shiny new ideas and relatively instant gratification and the lure of having things on sub. I wrote lots of them. I sold many. This is an excellent thing. But the novel was languishing.

I had ridiculous, intertwining themes and shifting ideas and at times felt like I was trying to knit a Fair Isle blanket with all different weights of yarn and needle sizes. Which, if you’re not a knitter, is a probably meaningless analogy.  But yeah. There were so many things going on and they did not cooperate easily.

And I wrote the whole thing by the seat of my pants, which is not advisable. I never had an outline. I barely knew where I was heading half the time. My characters kept getting themselves into unforeseen situations and then staring at me going ‘Okay, now what?’ as if I had some kind of insight. Pfft. I wrangled a story out of this thing, and I think it’s a workable story, and there are parts of it I’m really proud of, but gah. The most important lesson I learned from this novel is to NEVER PANTS NOVELS, EVER, JUST DON’T DO IT.

So I have a draft, and completing it was a delirious thing. And now the work of refining and polishing and figuring out how to untangle the messy parts begins, and this time I’m really looking forward to it, because it has taken me so long to get to this point. It’s rough right now, but it can only get better from here.

YES.