Writing, and belief

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By the time I hit publish on this post, I will have begun the process of reworking the second draft of my manuscript.

I’ve been laying the foundations for the redraft over the past couple of weeks: getting my head into gear, taking on board the feedback I’ve been given, reading some awesome novels for inspiration and filling my little grey notebook with strategies for moving forward.

The crux of the problem with the novel as it stands is that there’s still too much there which makes it not quite believable. The main characters don’t quite ring true. The plot is not quite watertight. My prose does not always fully command the reader’s attention, giving them small but vital opportunities to notice the edifice of my craft.

I’ve written a lot about confidence in recent months, but I think again it is my belief in myself that I must examine here.

There are a couple of key ways in which I think the lack of this might be holding my novel back. Firstly, I think I’ve become a bit too tied to my own experience – like a safety raft if you will. There is a lot of me in this novel, the mistakes and insecurities of my younger self. That gave me the confidence I needed to write the early drafts – I knew there was a truth underpinning my words that made getting them onto the page seem worthwhile, important even. There is plenty in the plot that is entirely fictional, but I think I got a bit trapped in my depiction of the emotional worlds of my characters. And now I think it’s time to branch out – to have the confidence to paint with broader brushstrokes, to allow my imagination a bit more freedom, to trust that I can create new emotional truths not just replicate the ones I know.

Secondly, I want to be a bit more daring with the details of the plot. To take more risks as I bring the story to life, to take conceits and events to their logical conclusions without worrying if the results of that appear at first to be far-fetched.

Thirdly, I want to loosen up when it comes to my actual prose. To let myself open up the inner workings of my main character rather than worrying about stating the obvious and hoping people will guess what’s going on in her head from the clues I’ve left them. To immerse myself more fully in scenes rather than telling them from the outside. To trust that what’s happening is interesting and worthy of deeper exposition, rather than just trying to brush past things to get to the main events.

There’s a lot of ‘more’ here I realise, and I’ll need to be ruthless in my cutting to create the space for it. But again this is an issue of trust – to believe that I can communicate the mood I want to in fewer words, that spelling out every descriptive detail doesn’t necessarily make a world more believable.

I think, if I pull all this off, then I will have a manuscript which is much tighter, much more engaging, much harder for my readers to put down. And if I don’t – well, it’s just another redraft isn’t it? I will get there in the end.

 

Muddled Manuscript

20 thoughts on “Writing, and belief

  1. Mummy Tries

    Wishing you all the luck in the world with getting your edits done and perfecting the manuscript hon. It’s interesting what you’ve said about being tied to your own experiences being a negative. I was having a chat with hubby just the other day and he basically said when it comes to writing my novel I should try and come away from them a bit… be a little more imaginative. Make nasty characters even nastier, change places, etc. That’s the great thing about fiction I guess. Hope it’s all going well lovely xx #whatimwriting

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Thank you 🙂 I reckon personal experience is definitely a great starting point, it’s just working out how to use it like a springboard rather than a straightjacket if that makes sense? xx

      Reply
      1. Mummy Tries

        Totally… Although embellishing and changing my stories make me feel like I’m lying! Might need a completely different angle altogether. No idea what though xx

  2. Nicola Young

    It’s hard isn’t it!! Going back to the basics with something that you have previously been so involved with means having to look at it from an outsider’s perspective. That’s a tough thing to do, but it sounds like you have identified where you need to go with it, so you’re on your way. How are you tackling it – bit by bit as you go through, or reworking the plot and scenes?

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      I’m working through the chapters one by one – making notes in the afternoon/evening then bringing them to the computer the following day once they’ve had time to settle. Early days but it seems to be working. It’s definitely more refining than complete rewriting, but I’m hoping the small changes I am making will prove significant!

      Reply
  3. Aimee (@AimeeHorton)

    Oh good luck Mrs! It’s so hard – I find the paranoia and second guessing the worst part of the process. Just know we will believe in you! Also, make sure you have somebody who can offer constructive honest feedback x

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      It’s the feedback from my agent and her friend that’s got me this far – getting the distance on my own would have been impossible I reckon! Thank you for the vote of confidence 🙂 x

      Reply
  4. redpeffer

    Yes, the second guessing must be a nightmare and potentially so limiting. I think you sound much more positive though now and have clear focus of where you want to be with it. I hope you can find a good and trusted person to help you as an unbiased and critical friend because that sounds like it might be really helpful.

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      I’m definitely clearer on where it’s going – for the time being anyway! And I’m very glad to have my agent waiting in the wings to give me feedback as the manuscript evolves. It’s definitely an ongoing process… x

      Reply
  5. Emily Organ

    On the positive side you have obviously worked out what you need to, the slight negative is that it seems like a lot of work! But knowing how you need to approach it is half the battle so I’m wishing you lots of luck with the next steps. Keep working on it and you’ll get there.

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      I don’t think it’s as much work as I’ve made it sound… Definitely still more tweaking rather than a complete overhaul! I’m feeling much clearer on where it is I want it to go – having not been entirely happy with the last draft myself that’s kinda reassuring! x

      Reply
  6. maddy@writingbubble

    Sounds like you have a lot to do but also that you’re really clear on what needs doing. It should be interesting delving more into the inner workings of your characters and moving away from your own experiences. I bet you’ll have a wonderful manuscript by the end of the process. Thanks for linking to #WhatImwriting xx

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Thanks for your support as ever 🙂 I’m really enjoying letting the characters get a bit more under my skin actually. Hopefully that’s just what the manuscript needs! xx

      Reply
  7. Louise

    Good luck with the second draft – sounds like you are clear about what needs improving which is a great start. Hope that being more daring with the plot pays off but as you say, if not, it can always be re-worked again and you will get there in the end.

    Reply
  8. Morgan Prince

    Sounds like there’s lots of work to do but I’m sure you’ll do it. I think immersing yourself in the characters and scenes is a great idea, I did this a while ago with a difficult scene. Once I let ‘me’ go and let my character in I wrote so fast my fingers ached. Good luck hun. xx #WhatImWriting

    Reply
  9. Chrissie@muddledms

    Yes, it will. The editing step is hard. It’s tough looking at something you love and knowing that it’s not what you envisioned and you’re going to have to pull it to pieces. Your conviction speaks for itself. It will get there and it will be what you want it to be.
    Thank you for linking with #whatimwriting and sorry for the delay in commenting. Xx

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Coming up for air | Sophie is…

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