Plot twist – why I have decided to break up with the draft of my first novel


 

Hi guys, so it’s been a while since I last posted (props to Heather for posting consistently in my absence – what are twins for eh?) and I finally feel as if I have something interesting to share.

You may remember that last time I wrote a post, I had just finished the first draft of my first novel and I was settling down to begin the mammoth task of editing the 90,000 words I had slaved away at for over three years. At this time, I was feeling pretty confident and optimistic about it all and I was super excited to get stuck in. So that’s what I did – for a short time anyway. I edited my first three or four chapters and, whilst doing so, I fell in love with my characters all over again. But there was a problem – a huge one. I hated my plot. Okay, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but for some reason, I had fallen out of love with it. There were a few huge plot holes I stressed over for weeks trying to fix, and I realised that had I tried to sell it, I don’t think I could back it 100%.

So after umming and ahhing over it on my own and sharing it with our monthly reading group, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t love it enough to spend another year or more trying to make it work. I think I could have made it work, but the thing is, I didn’t want to. Weird right? How someone can spend over three years of their life on a project and one day wake up and think, actually, I’m not sure I want to do this. I guess it’s similar to a failing relationship – you know when it’s run it’s course and although you’ve learnt a lot from it, you’re now ready to move on to bigger and better things. And I am ready for that. I have broken up with it and I’ve already started to heal and move on. I have been working on something new. I am far from a fully formed idea, but I have a good feeling about this one. I have confidence that, in three years time, I will not be rewriting this post again!

So as much for my benefit as yours, I have done a quick round-up of all the reasons why doing this is the best choice for me, and to reassure myself and you guys that the past three years have not been wasted time.

I have learnt so much

When I first sat down to write a novel I had no idea about anything at all. I knew nothing about structure, plot or characters and my only experience with full-length novels was that I enjoyed reading them. The whole process was such a steep learning curve, and consisted of lots of research, and truth be told, lots of trying and getting it very wrong. It’s true that you learn from your mistakes! Obviously, I am still learning now and I will continue to for a long time yet, but I feel like when it comes to getting really stuck in with my new idea, I am a little more clued up on how to approach it. I will know the things to avoid that didn’t work for me the first time around, and I will know what tips, resources and approaches I can use to make the process quicker and more focused.

I am excited to get my teeth into something new

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Like I said, one of the reasons I have put my first novel on hold is because I felt I couldn’t commit to the idea fully, and that commitment is so important. Finding the motivation to write is hard enough at the best of times, let alone if you are working on something that you don’t believe can make it all the way. I am feeling optimistic that my new idea will hold my interest, that I will carry it through to the end and will be something I am proud of. I will craft this idea in such a way that, when we are out of the honeymoon period and things stop being all shiny and new, I still look at it and think it’s worth my time and effort. This will be more a long-term marriage that can weather all storms – with a solid plot, well-crafted characters and a bullet-proof premise. It will NOT be a fiery, passionate love affair that looks great at first glance but when you take a look more closely is falling apart at the seams.

I have not failed

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It is important to note here that I do not feel like I have failed by putting my first draft on hold. I am not taking the choice of breaking up with it lightly and I am not doing it because I am bored of it and can’t be bothered anymore. I am making the choice based on the fact that I think my time is best spent elsewhere. This was a practice, and it was 100% necessary in order for me to grow and learn as a writer. It is hard to leave my characters behind, but I know they aren’t going anywhere right now, and perhaps they are wasted on a less than perfect idea anyway.

I can stand behind my new idea and sell it with confidence.

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I am hoping – perhaps rather optimistically – that by starting the novel-writing process from the beginning again with a fresh new idea and a clearer, more focused outlook, I will get to the end this time, with a novel I am proud of and can sell confidently. There is no point finishing a book I don’t love through and through myself, because if I don’t love it, how on earth would I be able to make an agent, a publisher or a reader like it?

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So to conclude, although I am sad to see my characters go, and a few of my darling scenes, I am ready to move on. Thank you, first novel idea – you were great, but just not for me.

 

 

 

 

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