Thoughts and scribblings of an overactive mind.

Word Hell

And so the agonising task of going through book one begins. I should explain for those who don’t know, this is book one of my five book series of novels (published this year, that’s the plan.) I’ve written the first, and I’ve spent the last year or so writing the second. And since I finished writing the second last week I’ve been dragging my feet, putting off going over the first and re-drafting it and fiddling with it and making it ready for the publishers because I know what a mammoth task it is. I fear it. I love it, because it’s my books, and I love my books. But I don’t half fear it. Even now I’m on here, blogging, instead of starting properly. 31 minutes past 2 in the afternoon, and I’ve done nothing! Crap! I’ve looked at the first page, had a panic and then ran to this wesbite. This blog is fast becoming my haven.

My main issue at the moment is the opening line of dialect. There’s a sentence of simple prose, no speech, which is fine. Then there’s the first line of speech. The first line of speech in the whole book, in the whole five book series! What pressure. At the moment it’s a bit glib and just a bit sort of throw away I feel. So then I thought I would change it to something meaningful, something really deep that foretells everything that is to come. But then I thought, from the character’s p.o.v, the line at the moment is very fitting. He is quite a glib, cheeky character. He’s important, sure, but he is quite cocky, he makes throw away remarks. The line is exactly what he would say. But it just doesn’t look that impressive for the first line of speech. But……but……..

When I first started writing these books, ooh, four years ago now (blimey,) it felt like the most natural thing in the world to write. I remember writing that first chapter, and that first line of speech just fell out of my brain and onto the page. I never questioned it. But now I’m so riddled with panic and insecurity about how good it is, how good the book is, will people like it, have people done the same thing but better, it’s awful. I read the book Russell T. Davies wrote about writing Doctor Who, and he said in there about how much writers fear their own work because they’re terrified of how it will turn out, and that’s definately true. Infact, if you’re a writer, I recommend that book, I was going through it going “yes that’s me!”

Anyway, enough plugging. I don’t know what to do. Keep the line, change the line. Keep it and risk it being thrown straight in the bin at the editors office (they’re that harsh,) or change it and risk it sounding a bit pompous, a bit overblown and a bit out of character.

I knew this blogging business was popular for a reason. Without even knowing it, I’ve just given myself my answer.

Writers Block

Writers Block - If I don't get my skates on (and if i get a sex change,) this is how I'll end up!


6 responses

  1. Rich White

    Matt, the worst thing a writer can do is overthink something. The book is your baby, not the reading public’s. I’ve read that first line, it fits perfectly and it works, and that’s all that matters. You definitely don’t want something that foretells everything anyway, at least not in your type of book. Be happy and content with what you’ve done.

    At this point you should be more concerned with writing a fantastic submission proposal, there are lots of guidelines online from agents and publishers. In many ways, the proposal is the difference between you getting published or not. Things like whether the first line works or not will all be dealt with by the publisher and its editing team; they won’t reject a book for things like that. Remember that you can’t get your own book perfect by yourself, you need others to read it or the editing team of the publisher to guide you.

    Keep the line, focus on making sure the characters develop properly, the story unfolds nicely, and writing a killer proposal.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    • Thanks rich. Brilliant advice as usual, and taken fully onboard. When it’s published your free copy is in the post πŸ˜‰

      January 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  2. Rich White

    Looking forward to it πŸ™‚

    Remember, if you need any help or anything with the book or publishing questions, i’ll see what i can do.

    (on my earlier point about the importance of a proposal, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It’s true that 98% of manuscripts sent to publishers are rejected, but don’t let that get you down. When i worked for a publishing company and had to go through submissions, i learnt a few things on it, namely that most rejections come from people sending the manuscript to the wrong publisher (we were a non-fiction publisher and we received fiction manuscripts!), which is guaranteed rejection; a lot of books that wind up in the publishing inbox are actual junk (one submission was a person who travelled the world putting her doll in front of stuff like the Eiffel Tower, then she just put the photos together and submitted it as a book! We also had a book about how to exercise during sex…). So immediately the 98% can be lowered by having a decent story and sending it to a relevant publisher. But the final two things are to have the book in a format that shows your care and attention i.e. justified text, double spaced, and with some semblance of an edit done on it so it reads ok. Lastly, the proposal. If the proposal stinks, they won’t even look at the manuscript or the sample chapter(s) you send in. But a good one can turn a rejection into a ‘well, you know, it has promise and the author seems willing to make the necessary changes, let’s give it a shot’.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    • Oh crap, well once I take out all the photos of my david tennant action figure there isn’t much left………lol, i can’t believe someone submitted that as a book! Okay well that gives me a bit more confidence. What I’m doing now is going through and tweaking it, trying to get it as good as I can, although inevitably i’ll miss a few things. And I’m going to try and get an agent first I think, although I’ll still need to do a proposal and a synopsis etc etc for them. Bought myself the writers and artists yearbook 2011 so I’m going through all the agents in there and narrowing them down to a list that will fit with my books. All hard work, but I know that the reward will be more than worth it in the end. Thanks again for the advice, seems to have taken me a while to get there but this year is when i’m trying to get my career going, and advice like that is more than helpful.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm

  3. Rich White

    Glad to help. The Writers and artists yearbook is fantastic, good to see you making good use of it.
    If you need help writing a proposal let me know, i can send you a template if you like.
    Agents are good, but look at publishers first because not all of them require an agent, and you can save yourself potential royalties if you don’t have one. Plus, agents are apparently harder to get than a publishing deal right now. If you’re not aiming at Harper Collins or someone equally high, i’d try to go it alone, at least initially.

    January 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    • Okay, cool, I’ll bear that in mind. Would it be possible to get a copy of that template? Sounds like it would be really useful. You’ve got my email right?

      January 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm

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