Sunday, 3 March 2013

Getting To Know You

I'm going to try and keep this blog post brief because I'm in the middle of writing my novel and I don't want to procrastinate... too much. But I couldn't concentrate because something was bugging me immensely and I felt the need to blog about it. So I'm not really procrastinating, I'm finding a therapeutic outlet to vent about some of my writing issues.

Okay, maybe I'm procrastinating a little... But it's better than watching my ER boxset, right? I know, I'm maturing in my growth as a writer!

Essentially my issue is that I don't think I'm selling my main character enough. I've mentioned in one of my previous blog posts that I know David (my main character) better than I know anyone else, even myself. I've done endless character plans, spider diagrams and scenarios for David so that ideally I should know exactly what he'll say/do/think/feel in any given situation. But for some reason this isn't translating into my book.

I think the problem is that I'm in such a haste to get everything written down and get to my weekly word count goal that I'm not giving enough time to the story itself and the actual craft of writing. This means that David is frankly getting lost in translation somewhere and it annoys me because I feel like my reading audience don't know him as well as I do. And it's a pity because he's a great guy.

Ok, I just noticed that I'm really starting to sound like his mother, but then I suppose in a way I am! I did create him (and I firmly believe that no woman will ever be good enough for him).

I've been told by several people and I've read in several writing books that the best way to write is to write; that is get the words on the page and not to go back and edit until the majority (or indeed all) of the book is written.

Easier said than done.

Part of me thinks that maybe I'm doing the right thing. Maybe I should just keep writing (no matter how abysmally) until I finish the first draft and then I can go back and edit to my heart's content. Maybe the second draft is the best time to "let David shine" and really illustrate who he is on paper. It's just very hard to finish a chapter (as I've literally just done) and move on to the next one when all I can think of is "God that last chapter was pure muck. If I was reading a book like this, I'd have put it down long ago".

Maybe this is what all writers go through, but as I've mentioned in my previous blog, I don't know any writers so I'm not really in a position to check this out.

My book is very much plot led - it's a thriller with an (I hope!) interesting premise but characters are the essence to any story and I really, really want David (and his cohorts!) to come alive on the paper. I want people to get to know him, to laugh with him, to cry with him and feel his pain. But because he's my main character trying to overcome adversity, I want people to believe in him. He deserves that at the very least, and it's my responsibility to ensure that that happens.

I'll keep plodding on at the book and my plan is that when I get to a certain word count (that's not too far away) I'll give myself permission to go back and edit what I've written. Hopefully that way, I can develop David further which in turn could motivate me to write even more then, because as it stands I find it difficult to keep writing when all I can focus on is the drivel I've written in the previous chapter.

It's just not possible for me to write a full first draft that I think is pure awful. Partly awful is do-able, but not fully awful.

Indecisiveness and writing is not a good mix!


  1. Hey Sinead, enjoyed reading your blog. I'm (Jim by the way)new to blogging, and twitter, Facebook etc - now having to embrace them to see what all the fuss is about.
    I've written 3 books: the first had an agent represent it for 3 years in NY, but fell between promises. The second is another fantasy, and the third (just finished) a Cornish Ghost story - with Irish undertones.

    I started writing back in 1993 with pen and paper: a truck driver - I had no PC skills, no clue about the right or wrong way.
    20 years on I've learned a bit via hard knocks. I think you have to do what is right for you (what feels right). For me, it's getting the story down every time - I find during 2nd 3rd draft the characters tend to sort themselves out, but of course everyone is different.

    When I started writing it felt like I was the only one on the planet at it. Twitter etc has changed that. You might like to look at forums too - Legendfire is a good one, lots of like minds giving and receiving feedback.Go with your heart, don't worry too much about prtocols and nuances. Get that story down and David will be just fine, you'll see. Good Luck Sinead - see you on Twitter!regards Jim @legendsofansu

  2. For a start, forget a weekly word count - who said you have to have one of those?

    My books are very character driven, and the thing people say most often about them is that they KNOW the characters - so I know a little of what I am talking about though am no expert! I think the wisest thing to do would be to give the best part of what you have done to someone who will give you an honest answer - and find out if David is working, or just cardboard. I can't tell you how to build a character so that he is real, because I think you either do that instinctively or you don't, though you can improve on 'okay'.

    This blog post read well, so I daresay your novel is better than you think! Also, few people get it right the first time. You don't have to publish your first novel; it can be something you learn from. If you decide it's not what you want to see out there as 'my debut novel' you can always shelve it, and perhaps take what you've learnt from it and start another one. You might even want to go back and re-write it later; my novel Dream On is a re-write of one I wrote in 1995, that was only ever read by about 3 people in its manuscript form!

    Having said that, I hope David has come to life, and I wish you all good luck!