Writing a book part 28 - planning ahead

By the end of this week, I should have worked through my first draft making all the changes I annotated in the hard copy. The cuts and edits mean the length is now below 60,000 words, which is painful because it means I almost certainly need to write additional new material. There's nothing wrong with a short novel in itself, but I think mine will need more to build up the shortcomings in plot and characterisation.

Of which there are plenty. Once I've finished the first edits, I intend to print and read the whole thing in one sitting so that I get a good impression of where most work is needed. I already have an inkling as to what the weak points are, as follows:

  • certain similes and imagery and repeated too often
  • using magazine articles (written by one of the characters) to explain plot details is probably too obvious and clunky
  • the relationship between two of the supporting characters doesn't really serve any purpose
  • the courtship between the two main characters probably needs to be longer
  • the characterisation is inconsistent, including speech patterns

This potentially involves significant rewriting and additions, and I'm not sure yet whether to do this before sending it to agents and publishers. That ultimately depends on whether it's good enough to send out as it stands. It might be more useful to get feedback from publishing professionals about what changes are most important rather than spending another six months writing. 

Besides, I'm keen to get the book into other people's hands and have started thinking about how to do that. I've signed up for a one-day course at City Lit called How to impress a publisher, and I'm also thinking about what genre it fits into - probably romantic fiction. I wish it was literary fiction, but it really isn't. And I definitely don't want to call it wine fiction. Hopefully the course will help me figure out this sort of thing.

Richard HemmingnovelComment