NaNoWriMo 2013: Winner!

It’s a short post this time around, folks, and one in which I shamelessly pat myself on the back for having gotten another NaNoWriMo under my belt.

I honestly thought I was going to fluff it this time. Last year I joked how Novembers tended to be dull affairs. This year it seems I’ve been made to eat those words! First there was the excellent World Fantasy Convention held in Brighton (my first con), then there was a cluster of birthdays (mine included), not to mention the day job rudely getting in the way, my shower blowing up, and, not insignificantly, the release of two major games consoles. Factor a lack of outline for the new novel into the mix and I was seriously considering easing up those NaNo reins this year.

But, thanks largely to the support from one’s long-suffering other half and the encouragement from my fellow local WriMos, I made it and ahead of schedule too. Even better, the story is taking shape rather well. I don’t tend to pants stories, but, so far, it’s working.

All this, of course, means there is another novel coming your way from yours pseudonymously. It’s early days yet – 50,000 words has seen me reach the end of part one, or around the 1/3 mark – but if you would like to read a little about “The Forum of the Dead” then please high yourself to my NaNoWriMo page, below.

NaNoWriMo page of The Forum of the Dead by Lucian Poll

To celebrate cracking another NaNo, I am holding another GoodReads giveaway of my recent novel The Floors. If you would like the chance to win one of three signed copies then follow the link below and sign up.

The Floors on GoodReads – win one of three signed copies

Alternatively you can purchase The Floors from assorted online bookstores for a couple of quid, or the paperback for a tenner. Click here for all the links you’ll need, plus a three chapter sampler of the paperback edition.

I’ll be back soonish with more thoughts on publishing The Floors, then who knows what blathering lies ahead? 🙂

Laters, ‘taters.

First draft: so long, and thanks for The End!

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way, shall we?

It has taken, by my reckoning, 11 weeks of fairly intensive writing, but after stringing together 102,750 words I have finally completed the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel. I make that around 360-370 pages of a regular paperback in old money.

Lucian Poll's First Draft Feeling
That completed first draft feeling!

And, boy, do I feel all the better for it. You don’t believe me? Well, take a look for yourself…

It’s like I’ve undergone an exorcism, albeit one where the priest hands me the demon in a lovely bottle as a keepsake.

The overriding sensation is one of relief that I have finally gotten this story out of my head and onto paper, but, of course, the job is only really half done.

Few writers, if any, get things right first time. Those that do are liars. Hemingway, ever the writer’s go-to guy for memorable quotes, once declared that “The first draft of anything is shit.” There is, if you will forgive the pun, a ring of truth to that.

If, as it happens, you are a literary wunderkind that can get everything right first time, like some Anthony Trollope incarnate, then bully for you. For the rest of us mere mortals the first draft of a novel is going to be prone to all sorts of stuff guaranteed to make the writer’s skin crawl.

Such embarrassment doesn’t necessarily stop at typos, stilted dialogue and clunky prose, however. In a first draft you may find that you’ve dragged out an action sequence for too long, or you have scenes that seemed like a good idea at the time but no longer fit into the overall story, or you might find certain characters acting out of… erm… character. You may find that your authorial voice changes between the start and the end, or that your writing style relies too much on a phrase or sentence structure that jars the more it is noticed.

These latter problems can only really be hit upon by following a simple, albeit counterintuitive rule.

When it comes to redrafting a work it is often said that you should first put it away for a month or two and do something else in the meantime. (Stephen King is a great proponent of this approach in his book, ‘On Writing’.) That way your brain can recharge and give you the necessary distance to revisit the work with a more critical eye. You can then pick up the piece and read it in one go, making it easier to detect its weaknesses.

So that’s the plan. Doing nothing is going to be hard, though, as I’m itching to improve the story now, dammit, and I have a list of things that need beefing up or tightening. On the other hand, being a lazy bastard of some standing (but mainly sitting), doing nothing does have its charms.

Arm = twisted.

As there has been some slippage I have had to rejig my schedule of Things To Do. Easter weekend now marks the start of the second draft, which I hope to complete by the end of May. That then gives me 3 1/2 months to get a professional opinion on the manuscript, as well as placing it under the noses of a few test readers. Save for any massive failures in the story, I should then be able to knock out a final draft ready for Friday 13th September 2013.

In the meantime I’ll get busy with Inkscape and GIMP. There’s the new banner up top, for example, to tease you with. Next up is the rear cover (for the print-on-demand version I’ll put through CreateSpace) and adverts for possible placement in magazines or on flyers.

Oh, and there’s always another story to write!