Things I Discovered Whilst Working on the 8th Draft of a Novel #Writer #AmWriting

#writers

I never imagined I would ever reach the 8th draft of a story.

Writing that number of drafts feels sort of crazy.

Well, here I am – yay!

*weary look*

After finishing the weird thriller, I went out for a drink with some close non-writing friends, who urged me to return to a romantic comedy I wrote a few years ago. They had both read the first ever draft and loved the premise. My friends felt it was time I did something with this story.

Early on in the evening I refused point-blank to return to this story, of a wife who discovers her late husband wrote her and their three kids a set of instructions on how to survive life without him. Her instructions were about how to fall in love again. I was not the sort of writer who worked on something for that many drafts, the story had been rejected a lot by agents and more importantly, I did not feel I had any connection to this story. (Remember this point).

After several glasses of wine (which went straight to my head) I was emotional and confessing my undying love for my characters, outside in a beer garden.

This romantic comedy of mine, which currently has the working title, Instructions For Falling In Love, Again, (commonly known to all my writers friends as Instructions) started life in 2015.

For all new writers who have not yet got their head around revision and drafting – brace yourselves.

This is the journey my draft novel has been on:

  1. Draft 1. Story is born in April 2015. 35k words written in a three-week, hormone fuelled writing binge. I knew it was special, as I cried whilst writing it. Put it in a folder and lost myself in writing a moving and heart wrenching vampire romance.
  2. Draft 2. Dug Instructions out of folder and got emotional after reading it again. Story revised in 2016 and sent to beta readers. 45k words. All beta readers loved it. Cried again (hysterical sobbing).
  3. Draft 3. After spending too much time with Instructions I began to hate it, so in late 2016 it was rewritten and sent out to beta readers. It was too cheery, I thought it needed to be darker. Beta readers didn’t like it. 70k words. Cried out of frustration. Went back to writing the vampire romance and in an act of anger (fuelled by Instructions not working) I killed off the male vampire hero and was deluged with reader complaints. More tears.
  4. Draft 4. Early 2017. Got excited again about Instructions. I disagreed with my beta readers, made some alterations and sent it to a few literary agents, who all rejected it. 65k words. Cried and told Instructions to never darken my door again. Threw myself into writing a dark romantic comedy.
  5. Draft 5. June 2017. Found myself drawn to Instructions. Got it out of folder, read it and cried. I then wondered whether my beta readers were right. Got excited and rewrote the ENTIRE thing. 60k words. Put it away at the end as still doubted my beta readers and it felt like a collection of random story events. Nothing made sense so I returned to dark romantic comedy.
  6. Draft 6. August 2017. Could not stop thinking about Instructions. Got it back out, read it and cried a lot. I hated my main character so rewrote 50% of it. 60k words. It was rejected by a few agents and a publisher who had expressed an interest in it. Cried again over my story and whilst sobbing, told it to go to hell!
  7. Draft 7. November 2017. It reappeared in my dreams so I got it back out. When I read it I got excited and cried with joy. I did not like the start or the ending so I rewrote 30k. 67k words. By the end it still wasn’t right. Decided (whilst crying) it should go back to hell and stay there!

2018 – made myself busy by writing a serious romance with no humour whatsoever and a weird thriller.

At the Bloggers Bash in June, I caught up with an editor who had looked at the first three chapters back in 2017, and she told me it was still on her mind. I got emotional. In the toilets (whilst crying over it) I felt a tugging for Instructions inside my chest, so thought about going back to it after weird thriller.

In July wrote several blog posts about moving away from romantic comedy, but found myself happily recording my romcom podcast in a cupboard.

Drink with friends in beer garden and reminiscing about Instructions. Seriously, if my two non writing friends still remember my story from 2015 then there must be something good about it. They both lead busy lives and are prolific readers.

I cried once again once I got home and read it.

Draft 8 started a few weeks ago…

So far, the point of view has changed, one of the main characters has been given a hobby, I have strengthened the actual instructions side of it and more work has been done on character development.

I have only cried a few times so far, which must mean something.

So, what have I discovered whilst working on the 8th draft of a novel?

  • Bits of it are FINALLY starting to make sense. I can see why certain events in the story have happened and I can see why characters have initiated them through their actions.
  • I have accepted that it is a romantic comedy. Taking it to a much darker place was painful but I think it was necessary as it made me realise the story needs humour.
  • Characters are getting stronger. The main ones have some sort of arc and they are different to how they were at the start.
  • Some of the original 2015 plot still exists.
  • I am happy with my cast of characters. The urge to change them has gone away.
  • This is the big thing. I want to develop it further. I can see a few more drafts and I am EXCITED about the prospect of this. I think it is worth progressing.
  • This story is not going to go away. I have accepted that now. It keeps coming back and it wants me to do something with it.
  • I have never cried so much over a project.
  • I think I might be connected to this project.
  • I feel like a proper writer with this project.

I am going to do something with this story. You heard it here first. Stand by! Plans are being put in place.

This blog post has been really cathartic.

Some of you will probably think I am nuts, but loyal readers will know here at BlondeWriteMore, this is business as usual for me.

My advice to you all, keep writing and don’t be afraid to cry over stuff. I cry a lot and I am okay 👍🏻

If you are thinking, ‘I would really like to hear what BlondeWriteMore sounds like in real life’ and ‘I wonder what BlondeWriteMore does in her spare time?’ – have a listen to my latest podcast. This is where I sit in a cupboard and read the Diary of Roxy Collins. The latest one, titled ‘The Family Funeral’ is out now. Click here. 

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I am a blonde writer of romantic comedy fiction.

35 thoughts on “Things I Discovered Whilst Working on the 8th Draft of a Novel #Writer #AmWriting

  1. Sounds like Instructions has caused you some heart ache over the last few years! I’m glad you’ve decided to take the story somewhere and finish it. Will be keeping an eye out in the future for the the finished product 😊 sounds like it has a ‘love actually’ type of theme running through it

  2. Yes. That is my knees knocking. Terror is setting in. I’m only on the first draft… After several hundred pages, I quit writing what everyone said I should write and am only listening to the characters in my head. I am merely the typist after all.

  3. It’s all very well, isn’t it to talk about the story arc but what about the writers arc? It’s like a drunk sin wave curve or perhaps a heart beat monitor. You’re totally nailed that rollercoaster. Funny how I’ve just had a parallel experience with the very first thing I wrote and which the Blog Bash Witch-in-Chief made me drag out and look at again. It was traumatic but eventually cathartic, as you say about Instructions. Now with an editor I wait and wonder…. PS yes we all know you’re high on the bonkers spectrum but that’s what’s makes you who you are. Excellent post

    1. The Writer Arc – wow so true. Yes we go on an arc with our emotions and feelings towards a project. I had many bumps and spikes with mine. Yes I am very high on the bonkers scale – sigh!

  4. My writer arc has been a roller coaster ride, but one I wouldn’t really swap or do without.
    It feels better somehow, to actually give it a name… it sort of validates some of the agony!

    1. Oh Kimberly it’s such a huge thing to get a book out there! I didn’t appreciate the work, the heart ache, the emotions and the over thinking. I am making progress. It goes to the editor at start of Sept so once it’s back and revised I will be good to go 😱

      1. Oh, the overthinking! That’s the worst part, in my opinion. Yet, through all of the doubt and pain and (sometimes) tears, you still can’t walk away. That’s how you know..
        Continue to keep us posted. 😊

  5. 8th Draft? My brain quivered. But then I remembered a Seinfeld episode, and in my opinion, captures your mindset. (You suffer for your writing!) Remember the Soup Nazi?

    SOUP NAZI: All right, now listen to me. You have been a good friend. I have an armoire in my basement. If you want to pick it up, you’re welcome to it. So, take it, it’s yours.

    KRAMER: How can I possibly thank you?

    SOUP NAZI: You are the only one who understands me.

    KRAMER: You suffer for your soup.

    SOUP NAZI: Yes. That is right.

    KRAMER: You demand perfection from yourself, from your soup.

    SOUP NAZI: How can I tolerate any less from my customer?

    Keep up your good work! I look forward to reading your blogs, all the way from England!

  6. I can totally relate to you on the crazy 8 drafts. You’re brave to pitch agents. Very brave. I self publish currently, but I might just pitch my YA fantasy novel to a few agents & slowly watch as my sanity unravels. LOL

  7. Your tales of struggling and coming back to stories give me life and comfort. Seriously. Because I have these things that sit in folders, wondering if they’ll ever be loved again, and I sometimes go and look but the sheer amount of work I’d need to do overwhelms me and I click away to something easy.

    But you? You’re goin back and doing the hard stuff and you will be rewarded for it. Can’t wait to read!

  8. Lovely piece! It’s so true when you’ve kept up a core draft from the beginning and you feel like you should really cut things out but your inner voice is whining ‘noooo MY story’ *grabby hands* 🙂 Treasure what you’ve created because it’s YOUR own story, no-one else’s. Write about what you love and readers will really value that enthusiasm in your writing. Keep it up! Looking forward to your future success!

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