Thursday 5 June 2014

Does a first draft take longer for a second novel?

Entrance to Great Hall at Syon House

The second most popular post on this blog, (after The pros and cons of writing in first person present tense, which surprisingly gets a lot of hits) is If only I'd known this when I wrote my first draft. This was an early post, written before I'd properly embarked on the first draft for my second novel.

I wrote the first draft of my first novel very quickly, probably because I didn’t know much about creative writing. If I got stuck, I moved to a later scene. My writing style was terrible: overwriting, overuse of adjectives, telling not showing, all the usual mistakes; but I worked out the story and the backstory by just getting on with it. Writing the first draft of a second novel is a different matter. Now I know more about writing and perhaps sometimes have overthought what I’m doing. Initial excitement about getting a novel published has been slightly knocked by rejections (only slightly!). And dealing with more than one book can dilute writing time.

Last night I went to Alison Morton’s book launch for Successio, book three of the Roma Nova series, a lovely and inspiring evening-she certainly knows how to launch a book with style! I enjoyed Sue Cook’s questions about why Alison chose to write about Romans (her father knew a lot about them), why alternative history; development of the main characters and how she approaches the writing process.

During her conversation with Sue, Alison mentioned that when she writes a first draft: she aims to write 500-1000 words per day, doesn’t look back (ie: no editing) and she doesn’t worry if the same word appears three times in the same sentence. She said that the key is to get the story out. I agree that when writing first drafts, this should be the main goal and I’m pinning a GET THE STORY OUT! post-it to the noticeboard above my desk as a reminder. In depth research, editing and development of sub-plots can come with subsequent drafts.

Alison’s enthusiasm for writing is infectious and I admire her ability to produce novel after novel-she has another series of three in the pipeline! Thanks to Alison for inviting me to a wonderful evening and I wish her the best of luck with Successio.