28 March, 2011

Of Readers, Reality-Checks and Refreshing

Three weeks on from finishing the latest draft of my children's novel and the reader reports are beginning to creep in. Six people offered (or in some cases "offered") to read the manuscript and answer some questions and, so far, half of them have done just that. Some interesting things have come out already - confirming my fears about some aspects of the work and providing pleasant surprises about others. In particular, the week I spent on the part of the novel that I find particularly difficult and soul-destroying to write was not in vain - all three readers so far have named it as one of the best bits! Once the rest of the reports are in - hopefully by the end of the week - I will be able to sit down and work out what is in urgent need of work, before I send it off to be critiqued again by a professional author. This is the reality-check stage, but so far it's not looking too desperate and mostly, I am just excited to see how things are going to turn out.

And what have I been doing while my readers have been hard at work? Well, I've done some little chores like making lists of potential agents and I have also been working on my shorthand speed. I taught myself the basics of Teeline last year but I never have to use it so it's only a little quicker than writing longhand at the moment! Mostly however, I have been working on a short story for the Exeter Writers Competition.  It's been an interesting experience as I am a plot-driven kind of person (often, to a fault) and this is the first time I have come up with a character and a first line and just let the plot evolve around them rather than crowbar-ing charcters in to fit my plot. I think some of the sentences and paragraphs of this latest story, therefore, are some of the best I've written, but I'm not sure that the story as a whole works perfectly. I'm happy enough with it to enter into the competition though and it's been a refreshing change to write something for adults. From the prize money and the calibre of previous winners I am guessing Exeter are expecting at least a couple of hundred entries (I could be miles out - anywhere between 100 and 1000 would be my guess!) so I'm not sure quite what chance I stand, but if nothing comes of it there's no harm done and hopefully, as my writing matures, I'll be able to revisit and re-work my old stories.

All this of course, is by way of avoiding the inevitable: at some point I am going to have to tackle writing the synopsis of my novel. Advice welcome!


  1. One of your most admirable qualities has always been tenacity, which you have in abundance, laced with a useful measure of reality. Your self-motivation is tremendous, and you're just beginning to reap the rewards. You have a very proud mamma. Ceve

  2. Thanks Mamma! You know who I get my writing from...

    All those years of constantly getting injured, sitting it out and returning to the track to race again - never quite able to see how good I could have been if my joints would only behave themselves for one season - were good practice for being a writer after all!

  3. It's great to see how organised and motivated you are by having things to keep the flow of writing going while you have a breather from the novel. Very inspiring, Chloe :)
    Good luck with the competition entry. And to be honest, it'll definitely be worth the effort for the experience and the personal development, even if it does end up under a pile of hundreds. You can but try!
    Nari X

  4. Chloe I have yet to visit your site and not be impressed by your integrity and determination. Your single-minded approach and personal discipline are to be admired my friend.
    On the synopsis, I'll drop you an email. I'll be quoting something I found very recently so I wouldn't want to quote it where it can be read by a lot of people...
    It must have seemed a little strange writing for a more mature audience after all the hours spent Good luck in the competition.


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