I’m talking about my first novel.
I’ll start by saying that there are a lot of potholes into which baby authors fall. And I fell into all of them.
My first novel was written in 15 days and it was just over 50 thousand words long. I was thirteen years old, and I had never written something longer than 10k before. Therefore, I decided that the way to do it was to add lots and lots of description. That was the first mistake.
I then discovered that I was writing (much to my surprise!) a romance book. Okay, not my thing at all. These days, I’ve written far more than I ever expected to (though most people die at the end), and I’ve definitely read more than I had back then. That was during my ‘Sci-fi, and only sci-fi’ phase. I didn’t read YA. I didn’t read all these soppy books. I had no idea what the hell I was doing and definitely did not know how to write a kiss.
I know I’ve mentioned this novel in a few posts recently, but it’s taking up any of my brainpower that hasn’t been eaten by GCSEs and revision, so it’s pretty important to me.
Here are some things you should not do when you write your first novel. If you did these in your first novel, write a list of the important plot points, put the first draft in a folder where you can’t easily find it, and write another novel. You can keep the plot. That’s what the list was for. But you cannot, cannot, cannot continue with that draft unless you are the world’s best editor (in which case, please help me).
– Describe everything in great detail to add more words. Nobody cares. It’s as simple as that.
– Comment on your own redundancy or stupid phrasing without quite breaking the fourth wall. The reader knows it’s you speaking through the characters’ thoughts. It’s obvious. Just scrap the sentence and start again.
– Copy ideas from other books. I know there is no such thing as original writing. But you can always make something your own. Oh, and if you nick an idea…. don’t have the character say that it reminds them of a book they’ve been reading. The reader sees that and thinks, ‘Oh, the writer stole it from there.’ Which is true. You did.
– Write yourself into the book. I know it’s fun, but unless you’re very good at disguising your personality, don’t do it. There’s this character in mine called Delorfinde (she hangs out with Spook a lot). Look at my blog URL, and you’ll see one of the many reasons I think this draft is so bad.
– Include private jokes. That’s just annoying.
I’m not one to lecture, so I’m not going to continue. Instead, I’m going to share with you a few of the amazingly epic failures of sentences that 13-year-old me decided were acceptable things to write.
His eyes widened – her, considerably stronger, powers were now boosting his own.
The commas were TOTALLY in the right place there.
She too stared at the feather, which seemed so ordinary, and yet had a strangely compelling appearance.
The feather is compelling. The feather. I give up.
She looked up, at the diamonds dropped so carelessly, and yet with so much care, onto the blue-black velvet that was the sky.
Stop contradicting yourself, younger me. Or better still, stop with the ridiculous word padding and pretentious descriptions. Ta.
He hadn’t got Anna’s faith; didn’t believe in hopes and dreams. His only dream was that one day he’d live in peace. And with Anna. Bizarre though it was, he knew that he could never be in peace when he wasn’t with her. He knew that he loved her, and always would. That was a breakthrough moment for Matt.
Leaving aside how ridiculously cheesy this is, I just want to point out how irritating my narrator is. Totally spoiling the mood at the end there. What is my brain doing?
The front door burst open again.
Will I need that replaced or will it live up to this rough treatment? Anna caught herself wondering.
I kind of broke the Fourth Wall in a sort of non-breaking way. I just kind of cracked it.
“We’d be dead if it weren’t for Anna. Dead and the whole universe destroyed,” Spook arglued, in awe of her friend.
That sounds like a sticky situation.
She smiled with quiet delight as the wedding was held in the gardens, under a sky full of stars. It seemed to her that the one thing which connected her with Matt was their love of stars. She glanced at him, and saw his neck craned in wonder as his strange gold and green eyes drank in the wonderful light of the stars.
I need a synonym for ‘stars’. Or better still, I need to learn to write.
The doorbell rang. Having got fed up of dramatic knocks at the much-abused front door, Anna had installed a musical doorbell, which only succeeded in annoying Matt so much that he threatened to smash it on a regular basis.
You know earlier I had that wall-breaking door comment? I think I was dramatically knocking on that Fourth Wall at this point.
“Oh my gosh.” Greg’s words summed it all up. “We have left the planet!”
This is just one of Greg’s many amazing reactions to the world.
Throwing caution to the window, Anna pulled on a summery dress, and lit a small fire under her skin to warm herself.
And all around the circle, the Celryn grinned and showed their teeth, for they were destroyers and destroying was what they did best.
The Department of Redundancy Department called earlier, if you’re interested. They’ve got some vacancies.
She opened her bedroom door, and picked up the sword from its place on the bed, which is where she had placed it as she went to get changed.
They might want their ‘places’ back, too.
Okay, so these are just a few of the terrible, terrible, terrible sentences that I found. You can read all these and more in the NaNoisms forum, or you can read the entire crappy novel here, if you’re masochistic enough.
If this is your first time on my blog, rest assured that the very fact that I’m making fun of this writing shows that I know how bad it is. My beta readers assure me that I have improved greatly since these dubious beginnings.
But everybody has to start somewhere. I mean, at least I liked the concept/plot enough to rewrite it.