Diary Entry 2: Be Brutal, No Massaging! (June/July 2020)

Last time we discussed the start of my novel development relationship with Emma, and how we’re working together to finally get my Force together, finish this novel and enter publishing immortality…

Or receive 50 rejections, enter a pit of despair and refuse to write anything for another 2 years…

And so, after that initial exchange (shown here) in my first blog post, Emma gave me her initial thoughts on the ‘shitnopsis’ and pitch. I gave my thoughts here:

And then sent over the first 3k of my novel:

It’s funny to look back on those exchanges in June, now that the novel has moved on so much, and it’s changed in so many ways, but it’s worth doing all of this in the right order, so you can follow the changes, too, and most importantly the discussions and thought processes behind it.

That, for me, is the most important part – inline comments are fab, but they are often just smaller picture, and the stuff we discuss in the emails is bigger picture, and more valuable as a learning and development tool.

Anyway, Emma got back to me on my 3 chapters:

Some fab general advice from Emma here on opening chapters and they job they have to do. As you can see from the feedback, elements are there, but I’ve not one far enough in establishing the character/premise/setting/goals/stakes!

And here’s me, doing the classic writer thing of explaining why it hasn’t worked – I cut much of my establishing in order to start later in the story – when actually that doesn’t matter. If I decide to start the story later, that doesn’t excuse me from letting my 12 year old readers know WTF is going on! 😂

So to work I went and rewrote the first 3k again, trying to implement as much of Emma’s advice as I could…

And you can see I’m sending it with a whole bunch of caveats and questions – which is good in some way. I am critically analysing my own work. But I’m obviously also aware that things are not just right, but just sending it in the hope they’re okay…and guess what…

So, here the point in our mentoring relationship where I began feeling like we were getting to the real core of the issues, but importantly also discussing and identifying how to improve it. This is my real problem, when I’m on my own, and this opportunity to have someone else’s thoughts (and a talented, published writer, no less!) was invaluable.

Yes, do read Orphans of the Tide (Struan Murray) if you haven’t! Love, love, loved it! A great masterclass in how to hook from the opening and never let go…fishing pun not intended.

And there ends the June/July chronologue!

I think I deleted more words during this time, than I wrote! My word count was in negative for sure! But sometimes, you have to go one step back, to go two forward, and all that!

At this point, I was cycling 50km a day, so my writing wasn’t the thing getting the most energy!

From our next post, we’ll be into the realms of BABY, so this is when things will really go downhill from my POV! 😂

Seriously, though, I hope you find the insights into the development of the story valuable, and there’s stuff you can pick out from it, to help you.

My thanks again to Emma for her permission to reproduce our email dialogue.

May the Force be with you!

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