First Draft Blues

Finishing a first draft feels like a momentous achievement – for about five minutes until the angst sets in. Because when you read back through your manuscript, all the half-baked characters, plot holes, repetitions, inconsistencies, unnecessary details, missing details, superfluous scenes and general waffle will taunt you from the page, making you feel inadequate, unskilled, a FAILURE. Scenes and chapters are in the wrong order. Some things don’t make sense. Other things aren’t plausible. The middle sags. On and on it goes. First Draft Blues are harsh and can make you lose perspective, convincing you you’re not a good enough writer. But that’s not the truth. A first draft is a temporary, unavoidable stage that your manuscript must go through before it starts to take shape. And First Draft Blues are temporary, too. But to help shoo them on their way as fast as possible, I’ve written a little ditty to cheer you up and cheer you on. It’s called…

 

GO AND DO ONE, FIRST DRAFT BLUES

 

Your first draft is full of shit

And you feel like an utter tit

It won’t see the light of day

So you might as well chuck it away

 

STOP – in the name of fiction!

It’s a very common affliction

For what looks like a puddle of puke

Are the foundations that will form your book

 

Now allow yourself some credit

And prepare for a ruthless edit

There’s really no need to panic

You’re not trying to re-float the Titanic

 

When you compare draft one with draft two

That difference will be all down to you

By the time draft five’s in full swing

Your story will be starting to sing!

 

All those rewrites and revisions?

Just necessary steps on the mission

Be kind to yourself and stay bright

First drafts are supposed to be shite

#WriteMentor Summer Programme 2020

I’m really excited to announce that this year I’ll be mentoring for the #WriteMentor Summer Mentoring Programme – whoop, whoop! Here’s a bit of blurb about myself, my experience, and what I’m offering.

Agent: Lauren Gardner at Bell Lomax Moreton Literary Agency

Published books: Middle Grade comedy Clementine Florentine currently on submission.

Genre: upper MG/YA contemporary comedy

Bio: For the last 15 years I’ve worked as a copywriter for the graphic design agency I run with my husband. Before that I worked as a sub-editor on a variety of magazines from Vogue to The Sun TV Guide. I love writing attention-grabbing headlines – whether it’s for a fashion feature or a weekly Corrie update, or for an orchestra’s latest season brochure or a company’s new website. Work aside, I’m married with two mouthy teenagers, a lazy Labrador and an incontinent cat.

Experience: I’ve been writing fiction for nearly 20 years and have gained and lost agents, been on submission a few times and received hundreds of rejections – so I’m very familiar with the heartache of constant knock-backs! In the last few years, since turning from women’s fiction to writing YA and MG, I’ve been shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award (2017) and longlisted for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition (2018), and have found representation with Lauren Gardner at BLM. My current novel is out on submission so I’m mainlining Minstrels as I await the verdicts. I found the Curtis Brown Creative Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course and also the Society for Editors and Proofreaders Introduction to Fiction Editing course hugely helpful in honing my fiction writing and editing skills.

Mentoring package offered: I’ll provide a thorough developmental edit of your full manuscript. This means I’ll be looking at the structure of the story, plot development, characterisation, writing, presentation and marketability. I’ll flag up potential problems and brilliant bits alike in the margin, and write you a full report covering all of the above. I’m also happy to advise on your cover letter and synopsis, too.

Mentoring style: I won’t hold back from pointing out issues that may (or may not) need addressing, but I’ll be as tactful and supportive as I can. I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way.

Ideal mentee: I’d love to work with someone who is open to (gentle) constructive criticism. I’m open to all genres (of Middle Grade and YA) except fantasy.

Fave pastimes: Sitting in a cosy café with a cup of coffee and staring into space, or blasting out some favourite tunes and having a boogie (preferably not in front of my teenagers who are too young to appreciate the greatness of their mother’s iconic dancefloor swagger.)

Fave kids’ books: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green, The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr, Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, The Outsiders by SE Hinton, and anything by Lois Duncan (showing my age with these last three).

Fave adult fiction: Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Breath by Tim Winton, anything by Liane Moriarty.

Fave TV: The Kominsky Method, Breaking Bad, Narcos, The Bridge, Fleabag, Atypical.

Fave films: JoJo Rabbit, Fighting with my Family, Blade Runner, Terminator, Edward Scissorhands, Jaws.

Please note: There’ll be a few weeks when I’m on holiday and not in touch, but don’t worry, I’ll let you know the dates in advance.