Countdown to deadline: 4 weeks to go!

Regular readers will know that I’m blogging weekly now until my deadline on 31st of August. This is the deadline for submitting the current draft of my third novel (which I’m calling Draft 1.B because although i’s technically a second draft, so much has changed it’s more like a first draft) to my editor at Simon & Schuster, and my agent.

This book has been something of a challenge – it still is – but I think it’s coming together now, and although I know there will be a lot more redrafting when I have their feedback, I’m feeling a little more confident about it, in that it’s beginning to feel ‘do-able’ in a way it didn’t for a very long time.

So, I’ve just looked back at the goal I set for myself last week which was this:

My goal for this time next week is to made the tense changes and to have at least begun reading through from the start and making notes. I’ve started what I think will be the penultimate chapter, but I’m a bit stuck at the moment. l’ll keep going back to it over the next few days, but I’m not going to make that my focus just yet.

I’m still stuck on those last two chapters, but I’m not going to worry about that just now. I’ve finished making the tense changes, and I’ve read through the whole draft as it stands (minus the last two chapters and an epilogue) and made lots of notes on the manuscript, as well as a list of ‘jobs’ that need doing. I’ve also listed the chapters and put a little symbol beside each to show whether it’s in the present or the past, and I’ve noted the chapter length.

Here’s my editing table today. As you can see, I’m still, even at this late stage, unsure about one of the character’s names. I have a couple more ideas, so I’m going to do a ‘find and replace’ and see how the new choices feel as I’m working with them.

Looking at my list with the chapter length and symbol showing whether its past or present, I noticed that there’s a rather big clump of ‘present’ at the beginning of the book. It may be that it’s appropriate, or it may be that breaking that up would cause other structural problems, but at the moment, I’m looking for a way of bringing one or two earlier episodes up to the front, so that we start to dip back into the past a little sooner.

Although I’m working on Scrivener, which makes it relatively easy to move things around, I still prefer to separate the printed manuscript into chapters, which I’ve spent a good chunk of the morning doing. This makes it easier to see how the story will flow if I change the position of a chapter.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some of my chapters are, in my opinion, anyway, overly long, so I’ve been reading through those to find appropriate points at which to split them.

All in all, I’m making progress.  I’m having to resist the temptation to start making the tiny, line-editing changes at this stage, because there are bigger things that I want to change first. Some of my chapters need quite a bit of trimming, so I want to do that before I start tweaking and twiddling with the sentences that remain.

My goal for next week is to have sorted out the order of the chapters and to have a draft, even if it’s rough, of the penultimate chapter. See you next week, when I’ll have just three weeks to go!

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  1. JO says:

    You are so organised!!!! Not only do you have lists and goals, you stick to them. (I try to do the lists and goals, but too often they go out of the window when I sit down to actually write!)

  2. Marina Sofia says:

    This is really helpful. I am powering through the first draft right now but suspect my rewrites will be major (have some tricky timeline issues that don't feel quite right yet), so this is useful and encouraging. And yes, very organised, well done.

  3. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    It's slightly easier to stick to them at this stage, because there are quite clearly defined 'tasks'. What I find more difficult to stick to are goals like, 'write 1000 words a day'. I have lists mainly to give the impression of being organised!

  4. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    You have my sympathies! it's the timeline that has caused me such a huge problems with this novel. I keep resolving to make the next one chronological, set in one time period and with one narrator. But I know I won't stick to it! Good luck – keep going. There is usually a way through in the end.

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