How to finish a novel

 

So I just finished typing THE END on my fourth novel, and I’ll be honest with you, it feels a bit weird.

I was beginning to think I’d never get here! My amazing spreadsheet, that calculates my likely completion date (based on how many words I’ve written since the start of the project), reckoned I’d be done by September – October at the latest. But that was assuming the novel would come in at 80,000 words – average novel length, and more or less what all three of my previous works of fiction weighed in at.

However, as I reached that epic word count the story was nowhere near done. It was the writing equivalent of running a marathon only to have someone tell you after twenty six gruelling miles that the finish line has been moved. I had to keep going.

Never mind. At least the majority of the book had been written. And the last time I ‘wrote a novel’… and the time before that… there was something about having the end in sight that propelled me forwards. A sudden sprint to the finish line. But this time, the closer I got to the end of the story the slower I got.

Part of that was because I wasn’t entirely sure how the story should end. In fact, if it hadn’t of been for my chums in my writing group I might still be searching for that elusive ending.

Even when I had the ending, those last couple of chapters were extremely troublesome. This morning I spent almost 5 hours writing approximately two hundred words. That’s 40 words an hour. Less than a word a minute.

But…

It’s done.

Finally.

Except of course…

It’s not.

Starting next week I’m editing: I already have a pile of ‘go back and fix this’ notes. Then I’ll print the whole thing off, and do ‘the big read through’. When I’m done with drowning my sorrows (because traditionally at this point most authors think they’ve written a massive pile of horse poo), I’ll take my big red pen and start slashing and hacking.

I’ll be honest with you, the last two times I quite enjoyed this part – this is the moment when it actually starts to feel like I’ve written a book, something I can be proud of. But I suspect books might be a little like children; you might have had something to do with their creation, you might have created others, but it’s a mistake to let your guard down.

When I’m finally done slashing and hacking I’ll give the book to the half dozen trusted folk who have been waiting patiently to read it. My ‘first readers’.

And when I’m done working through their comments (which could easily range from ‘not sure she should be wearing a yellow dress in this scene’ to ‘this ending doesn’t make any kind of sense’) well… then I’ll send it to my agent.

And that’s when – ‘scuse the language – sh*t gets real.

In my experience, feedback from Agents tends to fall into two broad categories: Either they like your book, but have two or three suggested changes (those changes being ‘the beginning’, ‘the middle’, and ‘the end’), or… they don’t like your book, and would rather you’d written something else.

But that’s a long way off. Months away.

For now I’m just going to celebrate the end of this stage, and feel proud that I got to this point. Again. My fourth novel. My eighth book. That in itself, isn’t bad going.

So, check back again soon to see how the editing’s going. In the meantime, if you’re a writer, feel free to share your experiences of getting to the end of a first draft. And if you’re not a writer, but have always fancied writing a book, feel free to ask me a question or share your novel writing attempts in the comments.

Now then, where did I put my red pen?


Struggling for Christmas Present ideas? Then why not solve all your Christmas Present Conundrums in one hit by visiting The Novel Coffee Shop (98 London Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1PG), on Saturday 1st December 2018 between 1:30pm and 4pm, where I’ll be signing copies of all my books, along with Sci-Fi author Claire Buss, and Children’s Fantasy author Daisy Bourne.

Click the flyer below to see a bigger version!

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Where do you get your ideas from? (Part 2)

 

So. Book titles…

hate them!

Specifically, fiction book titles.

Why? Because they’re so important, and so much rides on getting them just right. You might spend 10 months of your life writing circ. 80,000 words, but unless those half dozen words on the cover are absolutely perfect, you could quite easily have been wasting your time.

Non-fiction book titles are easy; just describe what your book is about and make darn sure you have a key-word in there (something that people looking for your book might type into google). So for instance, a book about finding happiness in this ever increasingly busy world might be called How To Do Everything And Be HappyThat would work.

But fiction? That’s a whole different ball of wax.

Take for instance my last novel; The Truth About This Charming Man. Not a bad title. But not particularly good either. Unless you saw the cover it doesn’t really tell you what the story is going to be about. Some have argued that even if you DID see the cover, you still wouldn’t know what it was about!

And my novel before that: The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The GirlTerrible title! Awful! I mean okay, it’s quite funny, a bit of alliteration can’t hurt – and the cover helped a bit – but having previously published four self-help books, most people assumed it was another self-help book! What was I thinking choosing a title like that?

Anyway, fortunately the same cannot be said for my latest fictional offering. This time I’ve cracked it! This time I have a title which is both funny, AND gives the reader a hint of what’s to come. And what’s more I can’t really take any credit for it.

I met my partner Valerie about three years ago.  Val had just come out of a long term relationship with… well, let’s call him Steve. It had been an amicable split so it wasn’t uncommon for her to mention Steve occasionally. I’d say something like, “I’ve made some fresh bread this weekend,” and she’d say, “oh, Steve used to do that.” Only bloody Steve would have made the bread from flour that he’d milled himself. From a stone that he dug out of the ground. Whilst building his house. Single handedly.

One day I got so cheesed off hearing how fantastic Steve was I said, “if you don’t shut up about Steve I’m going to put him in a novel and then kill him off!” To which Val laughed and said, “what would you call the book? My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend?”

Well. It was a such a good title, how could I resist?

“No!” said Val, seeing the light bulb hovering above my head. “You can’t! Absolutely not!” But this was Friday. And you know how this works – by the end of the weekend we had renamed Steve, morphed him into this completely unbearable character called Sebastian.

We’d also decided that the protagonist would be a down-on-his-luck school teacher called Adrian, and that his girlfriend would be a sassy American PR executive called Paige. More than that a plot was beginning to emerge that was just too fun not to write!

Now obviously it’s all made up. But that said, I really hope Steve doesn’t recognise himself in it.

Come back tomorrow and read the entire first chapter for FREE, or subscribe to this blog and have it arrive in your email…

Enjoyed this post? Read how I get my ideas (part 1) here.


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited period. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Fabulous Last Minute Christmas Gifts

christmas-2016
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find gift shopping can be something of a challenge.

It’s not the ‘buying’ of the gift that I find challenging, or the wrapping, or any of that malarky, it’s coming up with an idea in the first place. Just what do you buy your cousin Edwina, the woman who seems to have absolutely everything?? It’s the stuff of nightmares. Many sleepless nights. Perhaps both.

If you’re anything like me the days roll past and before you know it, you’re roaming the aisles of your local shopping centre, desperately hoping inspiration will jump out, shake you by the shoulders, and end it all.

Well relax. This year inspiration has chosen to send you an email. Or a tweet. Or however the heck you stumbled across this blog post. Consider the following…

Books make excellent gifts

You see! And I know what you’re thinking – it’s so obvious now I’ve come to mention it! And here’s something else, books signed by the author are even more special. Ha! No more crappy I-didn’t-know-what-to-get-you-so-I-got-you-this-voucher from you! You’ve just become a master of ‘thoughtful’ gifts.

Now where on earth can you lay your hands on a signed book or two?

Right here is where!

With just a click of your mouse, or a tap of your finger, any one of the six books I’ve penned could be winging their way to you with a personalised greeting inside, or a simple ‘Best Wishes’ if you want to keep your options open. Simply select the book, or books, of your choice, by clicking the links BELOW.

TTATCM kindle

 

The Truth About This Charming Man

My second novel… yes SECOND! Where have you been. If your Aunt (Dad, Sister, Wife, Husband, Niece… delete where applicable) enjoys a good rom-com comedy with a bit of a heist thrown in, this could be their bag baby.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

TGGGTGTG-drop-shadow

 

The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl

My debut novel… if your gift-recipient likes Chick Lit Rom Coms in the style of Nick Hornby or Mike Gayle, this could well be right up their street.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

 cover with drop shadow

How to Do Everything and Be Happy

The book that started it all: ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’ is a book for ordinary people. With ordinary lives. It’s for people who have been ambling along and wondering why they’re not – well – just that little bit happier.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

SDSW drop shadow colour small

How to Start Dating and Stop Waiting

If they need a real guide to getting the girl, or guy, this is it. Written for everyone who’s ever found dating a challenge, dating websites to be less than fulfilling, or ‘first dates’ terrifying… How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting will help them dodge the liars, & Lotharios, and have
them dating Mr or Ms Right in no time.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

From Invisible To Irresistible

The smaller, quirkier, companion guide to the previous title. Let me fix those underlying problems that make your otherwise attractive charming gift-recipient even more attractive to those they’d like to date.
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here

 

ELSS-drop-shadow-colour

How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim

And finally.. How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim. It isn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
RRP £8.99

Buy it signed here  £7.99 + £2.80 postage

Buy unsigned from amazon here