Hi all! I’m hoping to get one of these features up every month over the summer, since I’m not sure how busy I will be when I go back to Uni in September, so it will be nice to have some writing content up, in case I have to leave you with a few months without like I did in March and April when I had too much work to post 3 sets of long posts (discussion posts, reviews and these).
Today, I’m going to be talking about the process of writing and editing my first novel, This Is Not A Love Story, as I just sent it off to my critique partner after completing my first proper round of edits, so it seemed like a good time to talk about what the process of writing and editing it has been like so far. Just a fair warning, you may get a fair few of these types of posts, as This Is Not A Love Story is my main writing project at the moment and I’m hoping to get it ready for submission to agents and hopefully publication one day, so there will be a lot of updates here throughout the process.
For a little background, in case you are new to the blog and have no idea what I’m talking about when I talk about This Is Not A Love Story, I first started writing it in 2016, initially after a prompt from my uni’s Creative Writing Society, which was taking a first line from a famous story and writing something of your own based on that. The line I chose was “All stories are love stories”, and I wanted to write something to prove that didn’t necessarily have to be true, at least not in the romantic sense. I’ve written a lot on here about how frustrated I get that all YA stories seem to have to have a primary romance storyline, because although falling in love for the first time is part of a lot of teens lives, not all of us fall in love at 16 and personally when I was a teen, my friends were a lot more important to me than boys; heck they still are! Tiffany’s story is not defined by her relationships to the boys in her life, she’s not looking for romance, she wants the family and friends that she has never had and she finds that in Resistentia, the Resistance group she joins. Tiffany’s story is all about her journey to being able to use her new powers, learning to become a part of her new family and getting her revenge on the people she feels have wronged her.
I did my first draft of This Is Not A Love Story for NaNoWriMo in 2016. It was quite an intense experience, I’ve never written that much over that short a period of time before and I don’t really plan what I write as such, so there were some days where I got a bit stuck and didn’t really know where the characters where meant to go, but luckily, I have great friends and they were quite happy for me to bounce ideas off them. I didn’t actually finish TINALS during NaNoWriMo, but I was basically nearly there.
Then 2017 was kind of a dry spot for me in terms of progressing on TINALS. I’d never really had to edit my work properly before, when I did fanfiction, the most editing I would do is check for typos before I published it, so I’m not really used to looking to the flaws in my own work. I started on my second WIP, Underground Magicians and spent most of the year focusing on that, as all I was really able to do with TINALS was split it in to chapters (as I wrote it all as one long story) and check for typos.
Then this year, thanks to Megan Lally, I found #cpmatch on Twitter, a Critique Partner match up party, when you tweet about your book and people who are happy to work with you on it, will like your pitch and then you exchange chapters to see if you are a good fit. I got a few people liking my tweet about TINALS and sent my work out to them and I did get some decent feedback, but the one who gave me the best advice and has stuck, is my current CP Katie. I sent her over my first chapter and she had some really great insights onto how to make it better, I then sent over my entire MS and have spent the last four months revising TINALS before I finally sent it back to her this week.
Having a critique partner has been amazing for me. I’m not new to writing in the sense that I’ve been writing in one form or another pretty much ever since I learned how to, but editing? Yeah it is definitely something that I’m not used to, so having a second pair of eyes on my story to show where I’ve been going wrong and how I can make it better has been great for me. It was so much easier to see what needed work in my story when I had some outside impartial feedback about it. For me the hardest part about editing was knowing where to start, once I’d sent TINALS off to Katie and she’d read it, I had feedback about the bits that I needed to improve, so I had a starting point and once you have somewhere to work from, editing suddenly becomes a lot easier.
It’s actually kind of amazing how much TINALS has changed just in one revision. The bones of the story are the same, but I’ve gone for dual first person POV now, from both Tiffany and Cam, the main male lead (not romantic lead)’s POV which I think has made for a more well rounded story. People always talk about cutting in editing, but in actual fact, much of this first round of edits for me was adding in scenes to make my story more well rounded and reach the expected 70-80k words for YA fantasy. It was quite interesting for me, adding in Cam’s perspective, because he has quite a different view of the world and a different perspective from Tiffany, so having his POV allowed me to explore both the world I had created, and Tiffany herself through different eyes.
I also rewrote the entire ending, which was quite scary to do as it was the most changing I had to do anywhere in the story in my first round of edits, but after I had written the first draft, I had already decided that I wanted to change certain aspects of the ending (I don’t really want to say what, as it would be spoilers and I am hoping to get this story published one day) before I sent my story off to Katie for feedback and once I got her feedback on the ending, I entirely reworked it. I had originally envisioned this story as a standalone, but with my new ending, I’m definitely going to have at least one sequel, though I don’t know when I’m going to write it!
So that’s where I’m at right now; I’ve made my first significant revisions to TINALS, almost two years after I wrote the first draft. It has been a slow process but now that I have a critique partner, I am feeling a lot more confident about the revision process and I’m hoping that now I’ve passed the first major hurdle of initial revisions, that subsequent revisions will be a lot easier for me because I actually know what I’m doing now! I never really thought about the editing part of writing a book, it was much easier for me to focus on the initial writing part, but it is actually quite rewarding, taking what you originally had and making it better.
To round this all off, I thought I’d share with you a little snippet from TINALS so you guys can see what I’ve been working on for nearly two years. This is just the opening from the first chapter as I don’t want to give away too much! This is the first time I’ve ever shared my original writing on the Internet before, so please be kind!:
My name is Tiffany Sinclair, and this is the story of how I almost died. At this point you’ll probably feel the urge to go “Aww” or something equally sickening, but don’t. Note the almost. I’m very much alive. And I fully intend to take down the person who tried to kill me. No one hurts Tiffany Sinclair and gets away with it. No one. That person took away one of my best friends and for that they will pay.
The tale which led up to this tragic event, began on the day of my seventeenth birthday when I received the worst news of my life.
So there you have it, that has been my writing journey, at least for this story, in a nutshell over the past two years. There is still a LONG way to go before TINALS ever sees the light of day, but for now, I’m really happy to be working on Tiffany’s story, and I hope that one day, it will be on shelves and teens like me will be able to read it and see that not having romance in your life is not the be all, end all and you can still have exciting adventures without it!
Okay, fellow writers! What have you been writing recently? How long have you been working towards getting something publication ready? Any agented writers out there? Let me know in the comments!
I’m hoping to have another one of these for you next month, although I’m not sure what I’m going to be writing about yet. If you are a writer and you would like to be featured on this, then you can contact me on Twitter, @iloveheartlandX.
I will have my latest Top Ten Tuesday post up on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that.