So, there I was, a few months ago, huddled in a deep sense of self-satisfaction and smugness, as I realised my first novel ‘Elise’ was in fact almost a novel. At least in the sense that I had written all of the words and it made a story. Well, not quite, there were bits to fill in, but I knew where that was going, so no problem, just put the time in.
My ego was boosted even further by the fact that I had already started a promising looking spin off, in what I intend to be a series of short vignettes featuring some of the wonderful characters I have created, and not only that, I had already started the follow up novel, called, in my head at least, ‘Elise in the Wild’.
Brilliant smugness all around! Large Chardonnay for ME! My thoughts drifted to promotion strategies, writing my knockout author profile, Writing my knockout book blurb, designing my amazing covers, chatting to my New York Editor at midnight and not even worrying about the cost, as I watched my Amazon sales rank soar to the bestseller list, and not even in my own category! The interviews, the guest blogging, the fetish club tours, and all of the other (er – luxurious?) trappings that come with being, The Best Erotica Author Ever!
Of course, I realised, there was some way to go, and I told myself, Rome was not built in a day, but at least I was in the home stretch. But then, I still had to actually do all of those things. And that was even before I contemplated the mind bogglingly complicated process of actually converting my manuscript into an actual published format.
Best start with a proofread then. Now, proofreading is something that I do at work, in my real life enthralling (yawn) part time job. So, no problem I thought. Not so I quickly find out. Proofreading a long work of fiction is not as easy as it sounds. And, It takes ages! Now, one of the things I told myself in writing the novel was that, I was going to write about things that could actually happen, they maybe improbable in real life, but nevertheless plausible. I was pleased to see I had done that, except for the obvious gaffes, such as asking the girl ‘Piano’ to lick something while gagged. (Yes, I really did that!) And it shows just how much continuity matters, Just like in the movies. Several dozen such gaffes later, I’m feeling a bit despondent. I delete too many superfluous words and sentences, I change things around, tighten it. Edit again. Finished? No, it’s a mess.
Heading to Kindle, I decide to learn from the greats in my genre, there are some burning questions, what is the setting? How is it structured? What is the length? Subplots? Or not? How much characterisation? And a million others – such as the big one;
How does ‘Elise’ compare?
Well, I had great fun reading some great (and not so great) books, and just thought that well – I’m different. That is worrying; will I have a readership? I know my writing is a bit odd for the Erotica market, perhaps sometimes a bit whimsical, and certainly does not fit a formula, but then I thought, who wants a formula anyway? (Actually – many thousands! Help!). The other thing I realise is that I’m no good at doing that sort of analytical ‘pulling apart’ and comparing thing. Apart from brief moments, I just can’t be dispassionate enough to actually analyse someone else’s writing while I am actually reading it. So I continue, being totally confused, which I think is the normal state of life, as ‘Elise’ continues its journey into being.
Now, feeling not so quite despondent, I know I only have to do some tidying up, add some detail in the middle bit, and make sure the end sort of ties things up and also leads into the next book. Then there will be two more proofreads, a line-edit, a spell-check looking for common mistakes i.e. manger for manager, and what or who belongs to whom. Not a lot then, I’m almost there! Print it, put aside, continue work on other brilliant work, some despondency resolved. Goody!
Confused? I know I was! Initial comments were fine; ‘I love the way it explains things from the slave’s point of view,’ Was one, followed with, ‘I really want to know what happens to Elise!’ So far so good I thought, I have at least one reader engaged, but then the bombshell, ‘It does not ring true. Rhiannon would not do that. It needs a back story.”
Ah! The dilemma! Did it need a back-story? I was not convinced, but don’t I have to keep my readers happy? I figured it would be possible to write a new beginning, explaining some things, and if I did not like it, I could omit it if necessary without any impact on the rest of the book. I found an unused prologue I had written earlier, and began to revamp it into a whole new Chapter One. I was quite pleased with it, I decided it did indeed add an extra dimension, and could possibly stay.
Feeling ever so pleased with myself, I printed it off and handed it to another reader, who quickly scanned through it and said no, no, no! What? Grief! However the advice was succinct and to the point, apparently, my characters would simply not behave as they did, Mistress Vixen was simply not dominant enough, and Rhiannon’s authority was in question, why did they all do her bidding instead of simply slapping her across the face? Oh dear.
I begin the re-write, launching into one of the most gruelling months ever! It actually took over a month, and was incredibly difficult for some reason. Normally, I have a scene or a story milling about I my head, I think about it for a few weeks, until I reach a stage where I have almost memorised the words, then I sit down a write it, occasionally letting the text take me in new directions. With this re-write I could not do that, so it was with some relief when eventually I thought it was finished.
My first reader asked me to publish it, in the hope that I could get more comments, so I have put the new beginning here, to see what people think. Please take a look, and let me know your thoughts, good or bad, I would love to know.
All of these additions and re-writes have significantly added to the length of the book, so I now have a new dilemma, of whether to split it or not. Again this will involve some re-writes. I am of course anxious to see it published, and this will unfortunately delay that, but it may actually improve the book, and I definitely want to produce the best story that I can.
Splitting the book really has caused me a dilemma, so much so that I have written a little question about it for Catherine Ryan Howard, as part of her launch Splash for a new version of her book Self Printed. If like me, you are an aspiring writer, or indeed established, I would say you really need to read Self Printed, Its funny, witty and packed full of useful advice. Of course there are different sources of advice and strategies out there, but none are as readable as this. And before you ask, Catherine has not bribed or paid me to say this, in fact she does not even know, but I have absolutely no qualms in publicising her launch of Self printed 3, because I have found it so useful, and brilliant! Of course I have entered her little competition thingy, in the hope I can bag myself a free copy!
Are you just starting out, or do you remember those days? What sources of advice did you use? How did your first book come into being? Was it easy? Do let me know. You can use my Contact Form if you do not want to post, but I would love to hear from you, and do let me know what you think of my writing!