Book two in the DCI Claire Winters series, ‘The Principle of Evil’, is officially finished – well, as finished as I can possibly get it without an agent/publishing house working on it with me. It’s now off on submission and whilst I await its fate, I’m getting stuck into book three, ‘Skin Deep.’
I’m hoping to be so distracted by book three that I’ll forget about how book two is fairing – ha! Easier said than done!
Anyway, I’m about 10,000 words into the first draft, and I love the freedom writing a fresh novel brings. I spent over two and a half years, from start to finish, writing book two. That’s a LONG time to be so involved in one story and its characters.
Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed it (most of the time) and it got me some good feedback from two agencies, but now I’m on book three, the excitement of fleshing out new characters for my hard-headed DCI Winters to fight, feels amazing.
You’ve not suffered ‘third novel syndrome’? I hear you cry!
Well, surprisingly, not so much as when I suffered that ‘second novel syndrome’ with ‘Principle…’
I put that down to the fact that, now I’m on the third book, I’ve learnt so much about the writing process from the first two books, that I feel I’ve started this novel with more confidence. I learnt how to research and manage my time more effectively. I’ve also improved the way I structure my work, and so far, everything is more tight in terms of pace and sentence structure. For a first draft, although far from perfect, that’s pretty good.
No one should ever submit the first draft of anything – chances are it’s not as good as you think it is. Sorry, but that’s the brutal truth (for myself included). That’s why editing and re-drafting is so important, but to have a good first draft to work with eases the process.
Some authors’ first drafts can read like another more established author’s third or fourth , and that’s a good target to aim for. We should improve with each new project.
Starting a new novel doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think.
Take on board everything you’ve learnt from the earlier novels and perfect your writing process. Hone your craft.
Remember – mistakes are OK, so long as we learn from them.
Book three is not going to be a walk in the park. I’m going to get stuck, find plot holes that need closing, and no doubt I’ll be shouting at my computer screen when I just can’t seem to focus, but that’s OK – I’ll work it out eventually.
The more we write the more practice we get. Take advice from other authors’ and industry experts if you’re lucky enough to receive some proper feedback from your submissions. It will improve your work.
The ones who get published didn’t get there by giving up.
If you get rejections (we all do, more often than getting a ‘yes’) have a cry if you must, shout some choice words (in the privacy of your own home, preferably!) then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to your keyboard.
Don’t give up.