Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Apologies and Celebrations

Dear Readers,

On 13th August, sitting in a Starbucks in Belfast with the half-finished dregs of a coffee by my side, I finished the first draft of my novel. For those who know me, you'll know this has been a long time coming.
The Finished Product - First Draft
(Please ignore the cat - she insisted on being present)

First of, I apologise for being away for so long. Back in February I got a job which ate up far too much of my time and, worse still, killed my creativity. I won't go into that here; a writing blog isn't the place for such things, and I wouldn't like to bore you with the details. Thankfully that job is now behind me, and its absence allowed me to finally finish my first draft.

Finishing was odd, to say the least. I've finished stories before, of course, but not ones that occupied so much of my life. The conception of the story occurred around six years ago, as I have said before, and although it changed somewhat in that time before it came to be what it is today, the core story always remained the same. I have known for a long time how the story would end.

As such, writing that ending was a surreal experience. As I wrote the final thousand words, knowing my time with those characters was coming to an end, I actually began to feel quite dizzy. This was it; this was the moment I had been waiting for, the scene my characters had been plummeting towards for a hundred thousand words. This was their destinies. I wrote the final chapter, wrote the epilogue ... then wrote 'THE END'. And that was it.

It ended up being far longer than I had originally anticipated, too. My original estimate was 90,000 words, an average for Young Adult fiction, particularly debut novels. As I approached 90,000, I realised how much I still had to go. Each 10,000 words I climbed, so did the final estimate, until the final word count reached just over 130,000 words and I was left with the monstrosity you see above.

I've included a photo comparison of the thickness of the manuscript, and a British 50 Pence coin. Sadly, it's not to scale, but it should give you an idea of the size. For my American readers, I believe you can use this link to compare.

So, what's next for me? A writer and editor friend, the wonderful Helen Falls, will be reading the manuscript over the next few weeks and months and, hopefully, tearing it to pieces. She's a great editor, able to view the narrative arc as a whole and thus assist in weaving the various story threads together. In the meantime, as suggested by many, I will try to distance myself from the story so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes, ready to begin the second draft. Helen is the only person who may read it in this time; in fact, she is one of the only people who knows the story in full. Only when I finish the second draft will I begin looking for beta readers.

I'm not sure how I'm going to distance myself from it, to be honest. I feel so close to it, and only by working on something else do I think I can sufficiently forget about my characters, and that world, and try to focus on something new. There are a few short stories I need to go back to but I'm having trouble picking which one to go for. There's a novella, 'The Shadow of Death', which I may have mentioned before and which will require a substantial amount of research before I can continue writing it. There's a short story, 'The Coins Upon The Rocks', which I wrote for my Master's Degree and would like to rework, since my style and skills have evolved since then. There's an untold number of stories I have only considered but not worked on. Spoilt for choice, a 'first world problem' to say the least, and yet unable to pick any of them. Hopefully that'll change soon.

If you've made it this far, then I have a bit of a treat. A while ago I posted a blurb for the novel, which I've now reworked with the help of a friend. It's a lot better, I think, at conveying exactly what the novel is about. It's not professional in any way, though may one day be again reworked as a hook for a query letter. I hope you enjoy.

There are horrors that lurk beyond the veil between worlds, and seventeen-year-old David Gardener can see every one of them.

They haunt his every waking moment; now, those things are tearing his life apart. He has no family, has nowhere to turn, until a chance meeting with the enigmatic Lucian Ducant turns his world upside down. Lucian knows why David can see beyond the veil. Lucian, he learns, is from a parallel reality; he’s come to take David home.

Desperate to discover where he comes from, clinging to the promise of answers, he joins Lucian in a world of cobblestone streets and clockwork, where history took an entirely different turn and magic is fact. But something evil is stirring beyond the veil, and Lucian is not being entirely truthful with David. What of the strange dreams he is having, of the war-torn trenches and the dying, and the wall of fog so dense that it blocks out the sun? What of the strange disappearances in Lucian’s world, and the troubling sightings outside of town?

A terrible destiny awaits David, centuries in the making; a destiny he will have to meet head on if he is to survive. Should he fail, he threatens not only the fate of the world he comes to think of as home, but also the fate of every person in every world.
I'll leave it there for now, but I hope to come back to you again soon with updates on how the redraft is going, what I'm working on next, plus a few fun interviews in store. In the meantime, you can catch me on twitter @falcon_feathers, or leave a comment with any thoughts, suggestions, or concerns. Here's to brighter pastures, new stories, and the readying old ones for print!

As always, thanks for reading!