THE NOVEL PROCESS, POST-MENTORSHIP

Once you complete the Mentorship Scheme on CBC, you may not of course have completed your novel. In my case, I went into the mentorship perhaps further along than some, such that by the time I’d had my three sessions, I also had a ‘finished’ MS. This was not an easy thing to arrive at.

I do think what separates writers from those that say they’re writers is the ability to rewrite. It’s all in the rewrite. Having the discipline to go back into what by now is a pretty substantial volume of wordage with new eyes and a determination to pull apart, nit-pick and improve.. it’s the hardest thing to actually read what you’ve written, rather than think you know what’s there and so skate over large passages. Let alone then do that same thing again. And then again.

What helped me with my mentor odyssey was to employ different coloured fonts for subject matter and alterations, so once they were dropped into the MS, it was both easy to see where any changes were, but also the topic, adding the additional security of knowing it could all be airlifted straight out again really easily, without referring back to a previous draft. This was as much help mentally as it was practical, as I never felt I was losing track of things and I could quickly scan a chapter and any new stuff would jump out at me.

This was particularly useful with a major reshuffling of content, where chunks were redistributed, changing the shape of the book as a whole. Again, all of this is also greatly aided by the use of Scrivener, which makes handling the bulk of a novel so much easier.

So, forcing myself to go back in again from page one and read it all again, I was surprised not only by the number of typos, but also the little, forgotten sentences or ideas that had been altered somewhere else, potentially making things nonsensical. Or enhancing story fluidity or continuity, having added stuff later that could now be improved by referencing them sooner.

But as my mentor reminded me – although we were happy with where it was at now, running a shade over 97K words, there was always the distinct possibility that any agent taking it on might well require additional changes moving forward. It was by no means the end of the writing road, merely a pitstop to being finished…