I’ve been neglecting my blog of late. That’s not because my publishing success has gone to my head, or I’ve been too busy with my social life. Rather, it’s because I’ve been busy trying to get some writing done before I leave to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and cultural delights of Scotland, for which I leave tomorrow.
[See image at the end of the post for more info]
Firstly, I’m relieved to report that I managed to finish the substantial developmental edit on my novel. 🙂 It took me a little longer than I anticipated (doesn’t it always?) but writing ‘The End’ on it this time around was just as anti-climatic as the very first time it happened. Only, this time, I know that everything that I’ve written has a clear and focused reason for being there and all the major characters are fleshed out, as are the major plot points. There might be a couple of minor things to fix in the next round, but I’m confident it won’t take any major rewriting; which is a huge relief.
As a reward for getting through those edits – and as a sneaky method to do some research – I ordered myself a selection of new books to read (one of which was an e-book). Some of these were intended for my week long trip North of the border, but I indulged in two of them pretty much straight away. Partly because I love books and as soon as I have a new one in my hand I have to read it – NOW! – and also because I wanted to see if my suspicions were correct and I could stop panicking about an element of my novel-writing that’s had me puzzled for far too long.
So, after a (very) long, drawn out thinking process I’ve finally realised that the genre that best represents my novel would be contemporary mystery. I never intended to start out writing a novel with mystery elements in it, but the antagonist – Madeline – is most certainly a mysterious character and it’s up to my protagonist – Chris – to find out more about her and her life. Over the past few months I have tried to compare my story to novels with similar themes and I was wandering around book stores actively searching for ‘books about secrets’. Now, it feels like I’ve just been missing the most obvious thing in the world by not making the connection there with the mystery genre, but at the time it just didn’t click. Not until I re-read ‘The Husband’s Secret‘ by Liane Moriarty and thought to myself: This is it, this is exactly the type of book I’m writing and how she makes me feel as a reader is just how I want people to go away feeling after reading my book.
Well, when I realised this and went to investigate what genre the book was things just kind of fell into place. So I’m now investing in comparable titles to find other contemporary mysteries and acknowledging that this is the type of book I’ve actually written myself. What’s great about it is that I get to read lots of new books. What’s more challenging is that I’ve probably set myself up for an ambitious, lofty goal – having a comparable author like Liane Moriaty whose other books I’ve really enjoyed (What Alice Forgot & Little Lies I’ve both read), but it’s so nice to finally feel I’ve written something suitable for an actual market; even if potentially it has to compete with such amazing novels such as the ones I’m reading! In a way, that just makes me more determined to craft the best novel possible; because now I know what my goal is.
It feels so great to be able to go on my holiday and know that one of the big worries of my novel – not knowing where it fit in the market – is mostly solved. It will make it much easier to find agents to submit to and to explain in my query. And, the more I read in the genre – the more comparable titles I find – the more I can see my own novel sitting side by side on the shelf with them.
Had I not rewarded myself by investing in reading time after finishing this stage of my writing project I might still be wondering about my novel’s genre and worrying about where it would fit. But now, in my next pass, I can review the words with this style in mind and see if it lives up to expectations. Not only that, but it feels like my holiday to Scotland is extra well-deserved because in the last two weeks I’ve also written two short stories for competition submission for which I’ve received some really lovely feedback from my writing group.
Things feel good here, and I wanted to share that. It’s been three years in the making, this novel, and in the last few weeks I feel like it’s moved along in leaps and bounds – not just as a physical manuscript but also in my approach and thinking of it. Finding comparable titles can sometimes be a huge challenge if you simply write the book you want to read and then it turns out to be nothing like you’ve ever read before. But don’t give up; keep reading, keep taking things in and, eventually, it’ll all slot into place.