It’s been a while since I wrote a novel update post and in that time this blog has gained a fair few new followers, so perhaps it’s best to start at the beginning.

I spent the whole of last year working on a first draft of a novel. It’s called Cowards. When I lost my job towards the end of the year I turned my attention to writing full time, hired a studio out and spent all day, every day just working on the novel whilst I could. It was amazing. It was the most useful thing I’ve ever done with my writing, to have a concentrated period of time where all you need to think about is the novel, and I think it really paid off.

I completed the first draft towards the end of the year, and sent it to my first reader, my girlfriend.

That turned out to be the luckiest thing because, only a few weeks later, our flat was burgled and all of our laptops were stolen.


I could have lost the whole thing, but it exists still, in the ether (i.e. my sent items box on my e-mails).

Since then we’ve managed to move from Manchester to London, and I’ve taken up the hunt for a job. I haven’t been writing all that much.

But last week, my girlfriend sat me down and went through the novel chunk by chunk, giving me feedback on the whole thing. What worked, what didn’t work, what really didn’t work and what changes could and should be made. It’s great to hear that some of it is coming across really well, and interesting that the purpose of the novel that I began with (a prologue and epilogue that I had planned since the start) is the weakest element of the book. I say interesting, and not surprising, as I think that most of our intentions when we start to write a story can get lost on the way when we realise what we’re really writing about.

I think the first draft got lost at times when it wasn’t quite sure what it was, but now, looking through the notes, and looking back at what I’ve written, I think I can see a through-line, and a story that should be told.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to rewrite the whole thing from scratch, using the first draft as a basic template for the story. It means that I’ve got the interesting parts that I can pop in where I want to, but that, since I’m typing from scratch, I’m not beholden to anything I wrote before. I learned at the start of the year, that when I’m struggling with a story, there’s nothing better than deleting the entire thing and rewriting from memory. The idea is that now I have the story worked out (sort of), I can concentrate on making the characters come alive a little more.

So, novel writers, I want to hear from you. How is your book coming along? How did you feel at the end of your first draft? Let me know in the comments.

To end with, here’s the Spotify playlist I created for the novel.

2 thoughts on “Cowards

  1. Man, are you sure? The whole thing? That would have killed me. I’ve done a thousand redrafts to The VIsitors, including a virtual rewrite, but starting from scratch would have ripped me open. I always had the full manuscript to return to, whether I was feeling courageous or timid. I pussyfooted around my first big redraft, afraid to get stuck in. Second time round, I waded through it with shears, dotting it with notes to myself – that excised the loose material while retaining the good stuff, as well as creating a list of specific tasks, all in their right place. The thought of opening a blank document for a full rewrite is a horror.

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