Friday, 22 July 2016

Soci of Metro: First Submission Sent

When this post goes live, I should have already sent my first novel submission to a literary agent.

It's been three weeks since I finished the third draft of Soci of Metro. Since then I've been busy with various different tasks that have all led to this moment—this first submission.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

I Killed a Bunch of Flies Recently

I don't like to kill things. Most bugs are annoying and creepy, and I'm terrified of spiders. But for the most part, in the UK at least, bugs are harmless. In fact, insects and arachnids are an essential element of the ecosystem—an ecosystem that's been heavily affected by the zany weather we've had over the last few years. With all that in mind, I think killing insects for my own convenience is wrong. I try to avoid it as much as possible.

But yesterday morning, with the temperate creeping towards 30°C, and 20-plus flies buzzing around the flat, something inside me snapped. I found myself pounding down the street like a man possessed, heading towards Poundland with a ten pound note in my pocket. I returned with only one thing:

A cheap plastic fly swat.

Actually, it was two for a pound, so I kept one aside for Emma. You know, like a present.

So I busted into my flat, armed with my floppy yellow tool of justice, and found that Pestilence had had its way with my kitchen: flies on every wall, every surface, loitering on the fridge, crawling over my mugs, chillin' by the sink.

They never saw me coming.

I learnt a valuable lesson that day: Flies look weird when they're mating. I mean, it's a little unsettling. They kinda lock together like parts of some bristly black Megazord. And they can fly, while they're mating. Like, both sets of wings start buzzing, then they take off and bounce off everything, and… man it's weird.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Soci of Metro: Third Draft: Complete

Soci of Metro is done. 100%. Or 108%, or whatever I said in that previous blog post. I went over those first four chapters, cleaned them up. And then, at 10:05AM on June 30th 2016 I pressed ctrl+s, turned off the computer, and went for a walk.

And man, that sky was blue.

I've spent the last two working days compiling a list of literary agencies I'd be happy representing me. I started with a lengthy list of over 60 that I scribbled down from a 2012 edition of The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook I bought it in my local library for a pound. Then I whittled it down to 20. And now to 11.

So that's 11 one-in-a-million chances.

I'm strangely confident. I mean, it's not hard to find advice about the dos and don'ts of submitting novels to agents. It seems the biggest mistakes are from people trying to be cute—writing their covering letter from the perspective of their own fictional characters—or either downplaying their work and ability or being arrogant. A lot of people seem to fail purely because they didn't follow an agency's submission guidelines.

I'm not going to fall into any of those traps. I'm going to slave over my 500 word Soci of Metro synopsis and covering letter until they're super duper shiny, then do exactly what those submission guidelines say. Exactly.

That's not to say I'll be successful. Odds are I won't be. But if I do fail, it'll be because of my writing, and the strength (or weakness) of my work. Not because my story's main character thinks my novel's cool, and can't wait to tell agents all about it.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Books Read During Soci of Metro's Third Draft

When I finished the second second draft of my novel, Soci of Metro, I posted a list of all the books I'd read during that time. I'd also marked which I'd found useful, and which I did not find useful. Here's a list of the books I read, or started to read, or am still reading, or gave up on, while working on Soci of Metro's third draft.

Maybe you want to read some of these books. Maybe you don't. Maybe you already have. Maybe you don't read at all. I don't blame you. I won't judge. Most books are rubbish, and that's the damn truth.

Philip K. Dick - A Scanner Darkly
Philip K. Dick - The Man in the High Castle
Jeanne DuPrau - The City of Ember
Alastair Reynolds - Galactic North *
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
Richard A. Knaak - Warcraft: Day of the Dragon *
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Stephen King - Rose Madder *
Stephen King - Different Seasons
Dawn of the Dumb - Charlie Brooker
The Rock - The Rock Says...
Mick Foley - Foley is Good
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Total Recall

Again, books in blue are ones I haven't finished. Those with asterisks I found unhelpful to read while working on Soci of Metro's third draft. And those in bold are books I found most helpful. A new category--the ones in red--are books I've given up on completely.

Also, here's the books that I was in the process of reading when I posted my previous list. I've finished none of them.

Iain Banks - The Steep Approach To Garbadale
Mark Salisbury - Artists on Comics Art
Scarlett Thomas - The End of Mr Y *
John Bonner - Why Size Matters: From Bacteria to Blue Whales
Neil Gaiman - American Gods *

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Soci of Metro: Third Draft: 100%

It's done. I've done it. My novel, Soci of Metro is complete. I've finished the third draft. I've fixed all the typos. I've righted all remaining continuity wrongs. I've filled in the last few niggling plot holes. And best of all I've managed to cut a few thousands words and reduce my page count by over 20.

Man, I'm tired.

The third draft of Soci of Metro took my much longer than I'd expected. I always set ridiculous expectations on how quickly I should be able to finish any draft of any story, even though I've no experience on which to base those expectations before setting them. I thought the third draft would be done in six weeks. It took over six months.

And it's not even truly done.

The first 8% of the novel—the first three chapters, and the first 38 pages—need work. That's not to say I haven't already worked on them. I have. I did. In the weeks leading up to Christmas when we had painters repainting the spare room listening to "classic" 90s rock. Then we had biblical levels of rain and the fresh paint oozed from the walls and on to the carpet, and the flat roof needed repairing and the painters came in again and it was cold and nearly Christmas. And, well, that first 8% of wasn't my best work.

So the new goal is 108%. Then I'm done. Novel complete. Time to test it on real human beings while I pour over lists of agents, and write a synopsis, and a cover letter, and a writer's CV…

It sounds rough. Brutal, even. But I can't say I'm not excited.