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Thursday 27th August 2020

Good evening you lovely lot! Hope your week has been an enjoyable one.

So, I haven’t looked at my novel one bit, still refusing to leaf back through anything in case I feel the need to tweak anything before I get some feedback. I’ve not heard back from anyone yet. Everyone seems to be busy but hopefully I will hear back by next weekend with some honest opinions about my overall story.

I finished reading How Not to Write a Novel and found it cleverly entertaining. There are only a handful of the examples that I’ve included in my novel. Not to say there aren’t any other mistakes, because I know there definitely are, but it’s nice to know that I haven’t completely messed up, that there’s a chance someone will read my novel without throwing it into the slush pile. I also read Strangers by C. L. Taylor which I loved. I have started Sookie Stackhouse #12 and have also been reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. After I’ve read each section, I’ve been mapping out my ideas for my next novel so I have a very basic plan in place. I’m just reading about the different genre types at the moment, wondering which one my novels would would fall under.

I’ve taken a break on Supernatural, and instead I watched Unbelievable on Netflix and am almost halfway through season one of Cuckoo. My daughter and I have made it onto season two of Doctor Who and we’re nearing the end of season two of Friends. My partner and I have almost finished season five of House and are continuing with APB. I’ve also watched Practical Magic (one of my favourite films) and Catwoman. I watched those films with my daughter when we had our girls night in.

Even though school starts again next Friday, I still haven’t completed my planning. Luckily I only plan for one subject a week to cover the class teacher’s planning time. This will be a weekend job for me. I will have to put my novels, reading books and TV to one side, and just focus on getting the planning sorted. Most of it is on the system anyway.

As the time draws closer, I’m feeling nervous about handing my work to an editor. It’s like handing my child to a stranger, trusting that they will nurture and develop it with the same amount of love. In fact, I think I’m scared to finish my novel full stop. Once I’ve finished all the revisions I’m capable of, it’s time to venture into the harsh reality of submitting to agents. Will I ever be ready to do this, or will I procrastinate for the next few years? I have a tendency to drag things out when they near an end; I don’t like the idea of finishing something and being done with it. I’m that awkward person who lingers on your doorstep trying to say goodbye for over an hour. The idea of querying an agent terrifies me. I’m aware that I’m going to have to deal with rejection, but I’m also aware that I’m going to find this awfully difficult. Criticism I can cope with – but not having my work rejected without an explanation. Guess I will cross that bridge when it’s time.

Thank you so much for your continued support, it really is appreciated. Wishing you all a fabulous weekend.

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4th June 2020

It has now been nine days since I sent in my first 15,000 – 20,000 words to a literary agency to apply for a mentorship programme. The wait is on!

Having rewritten the first part of my novel, I sent it out to those people I received constructive feedback from previously and was welcomed with positive comments. My characters were solid. I had started my story with a better POV. My descriptions were on point. There were only a few minor typos to edit. This filled me with so much confidence that I felt ready to apply. My fingers are now firmly crossed and waiting for the announcement on 1st July to see if I’m lucky enough to get a space on the mentorship programme.

This is why I must apologise for being absent on here over the past few weeks. I have been writing, rewriting, reading, responding to feedback, and homeschooling my daughter whilst working from home during the lockdown. It has been tough, but lockdown gave me the time to throw myself into research and rewrite most of my story. I also followed some tutorials on YouTube to learn how to use watercolours. Let’s Make Art is amazing and the instructions are super easy to follow. I have produced a couple of failed attempts as well as some surprisingly beautiful pieces, which are now in frames.

I initially said that I would write here on a weekly basis, however, this is something I haven’t stuck to. I am now setting a reminder on my phone to ensure that I update you each week on my progress. So far, it has been difficult and testing, but I’m determined to progress and succeed.

Thank you so much for reading,

Michelle.

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Monday 6th April 2020

About Me

Not only am I a mother, I have a fiance that doesn’t currently reside with me (something we are working on) and I have a job at my daughters school as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Key Stage Two. I have two dogs – Rolo and Kinder – named after chocolate because, well, I love chocolate!

I’d be lying if I said my life was easy, but that’s the same for everyone, right? All these facets of my life have led me down a path that has sparked a desire to obtain a career in fiction writing, but it has often been a struggle with juggling all of the above. The path has been littered with obstacles. I have taken a few detours along the way. My journey is not over, in some ways it has just begun.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has given me time to focus on my writing and I would like to offer you an opportunity to join me through this hardship as I update the pros and cons of writing a novel in these difficult times.

Beginning

Thinking I was clever, I started to write a novel without making a plan. How wrong I was! This was about eighteen months ago now and I’m on my third rewrite of the first draft. I wouldn’t recommend being in this frustrating situation. I almost want to quit, but I’m determined to continue and achieve my goal – to publish a novel.

My message is to plan, plan, plan!

Having read countless books in all types of genres, I figured I knew how to structure a novel. But I didn’t. I’d like to take some time to go over my ill processes of writing my first novel. Some of you can probably relate to my problems.

What did I do wrong?

Where do I begin? Firstly, I didn’t plan my characters properly. This prevented me from creating an internal conflict for my main protagonist. I had my external conflict in my head, but it was of no use if I couldn’t convey my characters needs and desires. The internal conflict is the story itself!

Secondly, I didn’t research how to outline a novel and just started writing, labeling chapters whenever I couldn’t think of anything else to add. Wrong! If I had outlined my novel properly prior to writing, I would have been able to set up my chapters with a clear guidance of my characters’ thoughts, emotions and reactions. This would have allowed me to match it with the main plot (external conflict).

Next, I didn’t research any writing software assuming I could do everything in Microsoft Word. I probably could have completed everything in Microsoft Word, but I would have had to start at the beginning of my story and work through it chronologically. I have recently discovered Scrivener and it has helped me in more ways than I could have imagined. It allows you to see your chapters, track your progress, separate and merge chapters, make notes, research etc. It is an incredible writing tool that has helped me see everything from an omniscient perspective which has high-lighted my errors allowing me to structure my story in the best possible way.

Now

So, over the last few weeks I have downloaded several novel outlining books, been on YouTube to get advice on how to structure my scenes, read several writing blogs, joined Facebook writing groups, taken part in Zoom events with authors and literary agents, and am now rewriting my book for the third time.

My planning was easy enough because I had most of my story written down, however, I had written it in the wrong way. Outlining has assisted me with telling my story the correct way. My goal is to have a published novel in my hands, which means I need to follow a structure that allows readers to root for my characters and want to turn the page to discover how they face their fears and/or misconceptions of the world.

I have set up Scrivener with my acts, my chapters, my chapter plans, my notes, points of view and have colour coded everything. I have my notepad to hand with all my character notes and important events in my story in case I need a prompt or to to brainstorm further concepts.

If you are starting out as a writer yourself, I strongly urge you to read as many books as you can, research how to structure your story and get as much feedback as possible.

Please join me as I update you on the progress, hiccoughs and achievements, throughout my writing journey. One day soon, I hope you are holding my debut novel in your hands. You will understand the resilience and perseverance I have endured to make that happen. If not, then I have tried my best and will be proud to have written a novel, which is better than not attempting it at all.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog. I aim to write entries every Monday. Speak soon.