‘Finishing’ a novel

Well, my ‘current’ novel, ‘Poper Job‘ – a comedy set in Cornwall – is now at the ‘beta’ stage and being read by my girlfriend for comprehensibility/general what-the-hell-is-going-on-ness. This is the second draft, and it equates to a half-arsed rough cut where half the jokes don’t work (it’ll be their last chance to get funny in the next draft; if they don’t have me rolling on the floor by then, they’ll be left on the cutting room floor).

After another draft, and some vicious scrubbing behind the ears, I should be in a position to kick it out the door. Then I can get started trying to snag an agent for it, or a publisher, but hopefully both.

I’m in a curious position at the moment. My previously published novel, the technothriller Deja Vu (apologies for missing diacritical marks; I’m using new blogging software), has been published to some acclaim and is selling better than I had anticipated given the size and marketing budget of my publisher. I don’t, however, have an agent, and I’m aware that it would be a good idea to get one.

What are my chances? Same as anyone else’s: slim. But I’m very confident in my new novel, Proper Job, and I’m convinced that all I need to do is get somebody to read it. Once done, I’m pretty sure I’ll make the sale.

The difficulty in this business is getting people to read your work. It’s understandable, of course, given the huge ratio of supply to demand, but it’s very frustrating to be an individual lost in that sea of stuff washing up on the desks of publishers each day. I knew with Deja Vu that I had – fundamentally – a good story with good characters (this has been borne out by reviews that were 90% positive; only one hatchet job, here, which I think makes some good points), and I would get a sale if an agent or publisher could be convinced to read it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an agent to read more than three chapters. The one publisher that did read the whole thing was the UKA Press, and they went on to publish me.

The slightly rambling point I’m trying to make is that, with luck, it should be easier to get agents and publishers look at the manuscript this time around: I’m armed with good reviews, loaded with a track record, and dangerous. If an agent/publisher rejects the manuscript after requesting the whole thing to read, I’ll be very happy, because it’s more likely that their opinion has been fully informed. A fair crack at the whip is about as much as one can expect.

And then what? Well, this, the first paragraph of the sequel to Deja Vu. I wrote this yesterday morning. Our heroine, from the year 2023, is trapped in the year 2003. We find her in her flat in Berlin.

Chapter One

They came for Saskia Brandt in the night. She was sleeping, as lightly as ever, on a huge bed above the living room of her flat. The duvet was tangled around her feet. The night was hot and pressed against her head; she dreamed that she was at the bottom of the sea. She broke through the surface of her sleep and took a full breath. Otherwise, she did not move.

In the corner of her room, a computer screen flashed blue three times. Saskia put her hand behind the headboard and pulled her revolver from its holster. She spun the barrel once and opened her eyes.

Who are the men? What do they want? Has Saskia been expecting them? I’ll let you know when I find out myself.

Published by

Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

4 thoughts on “‘Finishing’ a novel”

  1. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you!
    I have Submitt Blog Site/Blog. It pretty much covers Submitt Blog related stuff. Come and check it out if you get time 🙂

  2. Just a nitpick: The barrel on a revolver doesn’t spin, the cylinder does. Also, outside of a movie, nobody actually spins the cylinder of a revolver before action. You can’t fire a revolver with the cylinder open. All you can do is accidentally spill your bullets on the floor.

    Very nice otherwise, though!

  3. I came upon your blog frm hitting the ‘Next’ button, and reading the little of the first chapter was interesting.

    keep blogging!

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