Question: Whose favourite expression is “I’ve been disappeared”?
Answer: The main character in my novel, Anna.
Next question: Why am I quoting him (yes, “him” not “her”)?
Answer: Because I have been disappeared, editing onward to THE END.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the work is over. Far from it. This Speculative Fiction novel of mine evolved out of a decision to stop second guessing the market and write something original. I even dared swim against the tide with a non-dystopian version of the future. Yes, the human race is threatened; no, the planet is not trashed beyond repair.
The project began on 1st January, 2013: what better New Year’s Resolution than a creative challenge? You can read a summary of my progress during that year here.
The next step was to throw my novel upon the mercy of three beta readers: themselves published, and one of them a freelance editor. Their verdict … beautiful prose, original, a few plot holes needing mending, too abstruse in places in an effort to avoid exposition, more dialogue tags needed, and greater differentiation required between character voices.
Back to the drawing board for four months, with the occasional cry of “not another thing to do!”. I admit to having felt annoyed with my beta readers at times, but that was because their constructive criticism was about 90% right. Of course, I’m eternally grateful to them for all the work they put into their detailed reports on my manuscript, considering they have such busy lives themselves and did it voluntarily in their spare time. Ultimately, I decided that if all three of them pointed out the same thing, then it needed attention.
It’s unusual for a second draft to end up longer than the first (62K words, grown to 90K), but I went for minimalism initially and then had to build on this. I did edit some things out, just because they didn’t fit with the characters’ voices as they developed. There was a degree of juggling around chapters, putting some back story into real-time and, where this was impossible, turning back story into proper flashbacks.
This next week, I intend to print out my manuscript and check the plot hangs together after all the changes I’ve made. At the same time, I will do a full proof read as it’s so easy to miss mistakes when checking work on the computer screen.
Just as a closing bit of fun, does anyone remember that tagging game named Lucky Seven Time that did the rounds of WordPress a while back, where you had to post an extract from page 7 or page 77 of your work in progress? Having just looked back at my Lucky Seven post, I thought it would be interesting to compare my page 7 extract from then with a page 7 extract from my present version of the manuscript.
15th February 2013 version
“You’ve gone insane.”
“No, it’s you who’s insane for bringing me fish?”
You scowl up at the sky, as if there’s a cruel memory pinned to the stars. I look up. There are no stars. Only the face of a mother—the last mother on earth to have given birth. Your mother.
“She’s dead,” I remind you.
“She lied to me.”
“Oh, Anna, I can’t bear it. You’ll have to wear a hat until your hair’s grown back.”
We’re both spurting tears as Ka moves between hugging me close, pushing me away with the flat of her hand, or poking at me with a finger. I wonder whether it’s my bones or hers that will snap first. My arm bleeds, where she’s jabbed me with the scissors whilst wrestling them off me. I think I’ve cut her, too. Our blood and tears are smeared together.
“I love you, Ka, I love you. I really love you.” These words spill from my lips while I’m thinking, I hate you, Ka. I really hate you.
15 thoughts on “Quote: “I’ve been disappeared””
You have my sympathies were beta reader comments are concerned. I’ve faced that ugly monster with both excitement and dread, though in the end it was worth it for the improvements made for the story and my own constantly evolving learning curve.
Interesting how you added more to your second draft. Lots of writers seem to insist that an edit should or could result in a cut of 10 or 20 percent. The journey of my own novel seems to have mirrored yours with an increase in word count as opposed to a reduction.
I had to laugh at your anguish cry “not another thing to do!” Surely there’s a t-shirt out there with that very phrase, if so I want one.
I like the idea of a non-dystopian future. I’ve not come across that phrase before. Very intriguing. What’s your novel called by the way and more importantly, when is being unleashed into the world?
I’ll have a go doing a T-shirt design, if you like, and email it to you as jpg, but not until I’ve sent off my manuscript to some agents and a publisher who’s having an open door month in June.
Yes, I’m going to try things the hard way and go down the traditional route if possible. I’ve made it to the full-manuscript-call stage from publishers several times with my earlier work, although one of my first agent rejections said “I applaud you for your imagination, but this is too original for a first novel”. The novel was fantasy/comedy/horror — in other words, blatant cross-genre stuff. But that was in the days before Speculative Fiction really took off.
My present novel, which is titled “His Seed”, encompasses crime, romance, psychology and science fiction, and is much more literary than my other novels. You probably haven’t heard of the phrase non-dystopian because I made it up!
You will prevail…
Thank you 🙂
I really do hope so. I want so little from life. Today I walked home from school with my Spoodleclanger and it really was all that I wanted.
yes you will prevail!! I have heard of these agonies!!
They are agonies, but it’s a case of “no pain, no gain” (darn it, I’ve just used a cliche). Let me try again — “no rain, no growth” (there, that’s a new one!)!
and a good one!! )
Congratulations Sarah, I wish you lots and lots of luck with it.
Thank you, Andrea 🙂 I could do with some luck after all those near-misses in the past. If I make it with this novel (my fifth) I’ll laugh if anyone calls me an overnight success. For most, but utter geniuses or those who know the “right” person, it’s a long slog and a huge learning curve. With my present project, I feel ready for publication in a way that I haven’t been before. Of course, with the first novel I thought it was just a case of writing it and sending it out (blush). I was darned encouraged, though, to get a full read on the 1st submission of the 1st draft of a 1st novel and an eventual rejection letter with the word “promising” in it. Kept me going that did, especially as the publisher was Gollancz. Just as well I didn’t know then, what I know now — the low percentage of writers that publishers actually take on. Then, of course there’s the added thing that most of them don’t accept direct submissions any more. But who knows? I’m certainly not ready to go down the self-publishing route.
Wow! I’m intrigued. You are so close, you’ve come so far, and you are almost there! Dear Sarah, I wish you all the best!
Thank you so much, Naomi 🙂
Fascinating exerpt that made me want to read more. Let me know if you need more beta readers.
I’m glad it made you want to read more, Patricia 🙂
Thanks for the beta reading offer, Patricia, but it’s already been through that stage. It’s literally at the point of last read-through from hard copy, and then giving it to one of our mutual fb writing friends/editor to proofread and cast a scientist’s eye over for any factual or logistical errors.