The Long Road

Today I'm going to talk about how long I've been working on my novel. It's taken me over seven years to get to this point, but hopefully my novel and I are reaching the end of our journey.  While I'm not going to discuss the plot in detail, I think this overview gives a good sense of how much my novel has changed.

But this is a Miss Cole Original, circa July 1992!

The story I'm finalising now bears little resemblance to the one I started back in 2003. I could go back to that very first story, finish it, and have something completely different to what I'm writing now... except if I had any interest in that original version I would've finished it years ago. Only two things have stayed the same, and the main character isn't one of them. Fortunately, the way this story has changed is the best thing about it.

The story I started writing in late 2003 was for a friend going into hospital. I enjoyed writing it so much, I wanted to develop the idea further, so I did.

By mid-2004, I was 63,000 words in when I lost all interest. Taking A-Levels and applying to university probably didn't help. I managed to pick it up again by the end of that year, but went back over earlier chapters and started rewriting them. I also reworked one of the characters into someone vaguely resembling my current lead. But then university took over and I dropped it again until summer 2005. In the autumn of that year I went back to university and everything slipped away again.

In 2006, I kept rewriting old chapters, hoping to reach the story's conclusion. The plot was moving further away from my original idea and I had amassed a lot of characters – too many to deal with. Again, my interest waned and other projects took over.

Across 2007 I wrote scraps but didn't make any major headway.

2008 was the year I started my writing class and that was when new life was breathed into my novel. I remembered how great it felt to write by hand rather than straight into a word processor, hence my first draft being completely hand-written.

This was the year I started to have doubts about my original main character. Since 2006, I had been writing from the perspectives of two leads; Nina, who was the original from 2003 and the secondary lead who was Nina's mentor. A class on perspectives taught me that the limited third person structure didn't work split between two characters when one wasn't strong enough to carry chapters alone. At first, when I couldn't stand the idea of killing Nina, I made her the secondary character and told the story completely from the mentor's perspective.

2009 was when I started writing daily,  That was how I realised I wasn't using Nina at all, and trying to shoehorn her in was too awkward. So, as suggested by my tutor and classmates, I got rid of her. 

Every writer has heard of the good old “kill your darlings” cliché. It worked really well for me.

From the moment I got rid of that poor girl, the rest of the story has rolled out nicely. I finished the first draft late last year and I'm over 50,000 words into the second draft.

It's been a very, very, very long journey and it isn't over yet. Since 2003, I've developed as a writer and the change can be charted over the course of this story. I used to dream of being published in my teens, but thank goodness I never tried! I'm in my twenties now and I'm hoping I've improved enough that someone will want to publish this monster.

 See my name in the distance? That's where I'm at on my journey.  The mountains are in reach!
Good luck to all of you with your writing dreams too ^_^

Comments

  1. I love that I've known you this whole time... I remember you telling me about the story when you were writing it for your friend in the hospital! I am so pumped to get the final version in my hands and devour it!

    Also, ♥ Pacific Coast Highway! I love that photo.

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  2. Laura: I know! It's nearly as old as our friendship!

    I can't wait to send you the final version, signed of course ;)

    I love it too. I wanna go back there with my new camera and take it again so I can get it blown up onto canvas ^^

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