The First Reader

What a first reader looks like

What a first reader looks like

When the first proof copies of Cuckoo were distributed, I likened the feeling to taking my knickers off in public.**

But I have found something in this writing process far more challenging even than that, and two weeks ago, on holiday on France, I had to go through it again.

The most difficult part is the very first read.

Well, not the very first read – I do that myself, obviously (and god knows, that’s hard enough).… read more

About Plotting and Planning

Last week I ran a three-hour MA class on plotting at City University. Apart from being one of the scariest things I have ever said yes to (and I admit this as a constant yes-person), planning the session coincided with a small sea-change in my working process.

If you have even glanced at some of my previous posts, you will have gleaned that, in NaNoWriMo parlance, I am a pantser, not a plotter.… read more

TARNISHED proofs arrive!

This is one of the most thrilling moments in the life of an author. Well, I suppose winning a major literary prize – say the Booker – might almost be up there… It’d be good to find out.

But really! Back down to earth, Crouch. This is the moment. You have spent the past year grappling with the contents of your mind, trying to give this story you have to tell shape and form and voice, feeling sometimes exhilarated, more often downhearted, wilting with guilt about leaving it alone for more than a day, feeling sick if youdon’t hit your deadlines; dreaming and thinking and scribbling and writing and writing and rewriting and cutting and slaying.… read more

Why editors are important

When I finished the very first draft of my first novel Cuckoo at the end of NaNoWriMo 2008, even I knew that I needed to do a lot of work to get it into a shape where I could show it to anyone else. After all, it had only taken me thirty days to produce. The pants to pearls ratio was pretty high.

So I worked on it for another ten months, until it was the best it could possibly be.… read more

Been a long time…

And this is a bit how I feel after emerging from two months of heavy-duty editing/major surgery on novel #3, which I can now happily announce is to be called TARNISHED.

I’ve been working on Editor Leah’s brilliant and comprehensive notes on my first draft, as well as a bundle of rather more haphazard and gut-based queries of my own.

I had fully intended to post weekly with lessons learned while editing, but I found it quite difficult to lift my head from what I was doing.… read more

If the writing goes tits up…

I’ve just had the most enormous fun making a trailer for Every Vow You Break. For me, writing is like running a movie in my head. So, it seems, is making a movie.

Last week, on a bitingly cold but brightly sunny day, I wrapped up so warm that I could barely move and set off into the wilds of Stanmer Park with YoungSon’s fancy schmancy camera. After half an hour of fiddling, I worked out how to switch it on, and I set off into the woods.… read more

A gamble

Some of the bare bones of novel #3

After a busy Christmas and New Year, I knew I had to buckle down to the second draft of novel #3, which I had spent most of December planning out on my Scrivener virtual cork board. A stretch of quiet, concentrated time was what was needed. I also had a bit of location research to do in Tankerton and Whitstable.

OldMan has had a few weeks of working from home – a rarity in his line of business – and he has been saying for a long time that, as he’s around to hold the fort, why don’t I just take myself off for a week and just write.… read more

Just a few tiny amendments…

Well, the WONDERFUL bound proofs of Every Vow You Break came through, and, as you can see, like me, AgentSimon thinks they’re fab.

But, really, publishers. Let a writer loose on her book before it’s published? When it looks like a real book? ‘Dear Lovely Editor. I’ve got just a few teeny weeny amendments to that bound proof.’

Is there a florist on the Euston Road that does deliveries, I wonder?

Still, it’s worth it if the final result is a DLP (Dead Letter Perfect) published hardback version on 29 March.… read more

Best Laid Plans

CUCKOO paperback – in a bookshop near you, at a nice price

So, I didn’t keep up my resolution to post here three times a week during NaNovember. Man, it’s hard, writing 50,000 words in a month. Even when it’s the day job. Nearly there, though. Just 1500 to do tomorrow before midnight. Might just about do it.

Hats off to everyone who has managed to get their novel written this month. Especially if you’ve had to fit it around work, children, aged parents, ill pets, whatever.… read more

Poised, ready to dive in

Yesterday I lugged all 450 pages of the Every Vow You Break manuscript – with line-edits and my own final alterations – up to London to hand over to Leah, my editor at Headline. Tomorrow, I start on Bad Jean. Although character, place and story are pretty well formed in my head, I have not yet written one single word. Eek.

Looking back over this blog, I realise, with a little frisson of horror, that by November 24 2010 I was printing out the first draft of Every Vow You Break.… read more