Category Archives: ghost house

A belated writing progress update – eight months later

Hi gang,

On this blog I used to do writing progress updates, and enough has been happening recently that I thought it was about time to dust off the old blog and give you an update.

This series is specifically about a speculative, un-contracted manuscript I’m writing under the codename #ghosthouse. You can read parts one and two first, if you wish, which cover January 2016 – December 2016.

So, I haven’t done much work on the story recently. I’ve spent the last four months writing my next contracted book for Walker, #lowrie, on a really tight deadline. It was challenging to write a first draft so fact (the first draft of ghost house took a year, from start to finish) but I’m really proud that I did it in three months. While I’m a bit nervous that my edits will be quite large, I’m overall very happy with the result. It was such a fast and intense drafting process that I didn’t really blog about it, but I might do a discussion post about it when I get my structural edit notes, if that’s something people are interested in.

But now that book is done and with my editors, I can take another look at ghost house!

I sent the first draft to my agent in December, and I haven’t looked at the manuscript since then – eight months ago. Because it’s been so long since I looked at it, and because the reaction to it has been quite muted so far,  I’d kind of accepted that it wasn’t going anywhere. I was kind of thinking that while it was a good writing opportunity, it probably wasn’t going to be published. Walker had said they’d prefer my books to be science fiction, so it didn’t seem like it would fit with them, and I love Walker a lot, so wasn’t really prepared to consider going elsewhere with it.

However, my agent recently read it and said that she really liked it, and thought it was very cinematic, warm and funny. She thought that with some edits we’d have no problem finding a home for it – and she’s really excited to work on it. Hurrah! The manuscript (and this blog series) has been resurrected from the ashes.

She gave me some changes to make, which I’m going to go over in general terms, to show you the kind of things authors might do with their agent before the book gets anywhere near a publisher.

My agent already gave me feedback on the partial 30,000 word manuscript, which I edited with her notes. So technically, this is the second set of edits for this book, even though it’s only the first draft.

She recommended that one of the minor points of view be promoted to a dual protagonist, and become more of a main character. She also wanted me to increase the stakes from the very beginning and make it clear what the dangers and risks of things going wrong are. She wanted a critical scene at the end to be foreshadowed more strongly, so it doesn’t come out of nowhere, and asked for the characters’ individual goals clearer.

So there’s quite a lot to do there – but none of it is really plot things. It’s more about building up the intensity of what’s already there – making subtle things clearer, and trying to make the readers feel the things for the characters which I do, as the author.

I’m really excited to dive back into this book and work on it again. I think the long break will really help in getting a fresh perspective on it – and it’s going to make it so much stronger.

This book was the most fun and enjoyable writing experience I’ve ever had, so I can’t wait to spend more time with my silly ghosts. It was more challenging than anything I’d ever written before too, because it has an ensemble cast who are all point of view characters, and the plot is very complicated and character-driven.

I learnt so much writing it (which is why it took nearly a year!) and it really pushed me as a writer. It has a lot of flaws, but in the eight months since I wrote it, one manuscript later, I think I’ve developed enough as a writer to tackle them and make this the book it is in my head.

My aim as a writer is to always be pushing myself to write new and more difficult things. I don’t want to write lots of similar books in my comfort zone. I want every book to feel like this one did – like I need to work harder and harder to become skilled enough to create the book  I can envision. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it.

This book could so easily have ended up disappearing into a drawer – it nearly was – and I’m so, so glad it has come back out into the light. I can’t wait to get started!

I’m going to be working on it quite slowly, as the priority for the next few months is going to be editing #lowrie for release in 2018. There might not be another update on this book until 2018, depending on how much time I find to work on it. Once I’ve made the changes suggested above, I’ll update you on the next part of the process – getting it published!

In other news:

I’m still offering editorial critiques at the introductory prices here.

I’m thrilled to bits with this stunning SFX magazine review of #theloneliestgirl.
They’ve basically given me the best 25th birthday present ever. 😍
‘Black Mirror-esque’ is truly a blurb to die for.

sfx

The Loneliest Girl was also the bestselling title at YALC this year, where it sold out in a few hours (twice!). I am so grateful & overwhelmed & crying a bit. I’ve had the best weekend of my life! Thank you, thank you, thank you, every single one of you at YALC. Here’s some pics of the event:

I finally received the lovely US hardback of The Next Together!

My events schedule is filling up! Over the next few months I’m coming to Edinburgh, Bath, Dublin and LOTS more Northern cities to be announced. I’m so excited to meet more of you!

There’s also been some cool fan stuff come out already:

Moodboard by abookin6pictures

Romy inspired candle by @bookwormcandles (buy here)

Some videos which have gone up recently:

Author Q&A with Alice Oseman

July reads

And that’s (probably) all for now, folks! If you want more #content, you can subscribe to my newsletter here.

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A writing progress update

I’ve been tracking my writing progress on the fantasy novel I’ve been writing in 2016, and as I’m working on it again now, I think it’s time for an update. Last time I blogged about it was in July, when I had 30,000 words written. I had to put it on the backburner then for a few months while I worked on LONELIEST.

October

I had some time to work on the draft again. At first I found it really hard to get back into, because I hadn’t really written any of it since May, and it felt very different. I think a lot of this was because I’d had feedback on the partial manuscript from both my agent and editor, and not all of it was positive. I was feeling very unenthusiastic about the whole thing. But I remembered how much I had originally loved the idea, so I fought through the DO NOT WANT feeling. I was really into it again by the end of the month. I wrote 20,000 words – and got to the end of the second arc.

I then had to stop to work on the LONELIEST edits again, and ended up by the start of November with 60,000 words.

December

As of this week, I’ve finished my edits and I’m back working on the first draft – and I’m so excited to finish it! In my head it was truly awful, but I read through it and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. I even got really mad at myself for leaving the draft at such a cliff-hanger, because I wanted to finish reading it. Damn it, past!Lauren!

I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year. I’ve done all the hard work laying down the plot arcs, and now I just have the fun stuff to finish it off – battles and kissing. 😉

This is the first time I’ve used myWriteClub to track the writing process for a whole first draft, and it’s really interesting to look back on. Over the course of a year, I’ve written it in 5 pushes, averaging out at 10,000 words a pop.

ghost.PNG

I have no idea if this is typical for me. It has felt a particularly difficult novel to write – especially the October session – but I have a feeling it’s always hard to write, and I usually just forget how painful it is.

So….I will let you know whether I actually manage to finish this book by 2017. Wish me luck.

For now, here’s my aesthetics for the novel:

ghost1ghost2

My …. writing process. Whatever that means.

So I was sent this ask on tumblr.

alice

I’m about due a blog post, so I thought I’d answer it here. (I owe you a June Favourites too – it’s coming, I promise.)

I don’t think I’d do a vlog like Alice (she’s is a lot better at that stuff than me) but I do give semi-regular writing updates here on my blog, so I thought I’d go back and compile them all and see if it gave any insight into my “writing process”.

A bit of background: I’m currently writing an un-contracted book which I’m tagging ghost house on tumblr. It’s a gamble to write a book out of contract, but I had the time and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so I’m doing it anyway. My publisher have said they want my books to be high concept sci-fi, so I don’t think they’ll be interested in it (it’s kind of satirical fantasy, or something – I pitched it to my agent as MISFITS meets SPACED.) but you never know! We’ll see what happens when I’ve finished it.

I started #ghost house in January, after I pitched it to my agent and she said she liked the idea. Here’s what I had to say:

January: 

January was a month of lots of writing for me, and lots of waiting. In publishing, you have to play the long game, and I’m definitely coming to realise that. I’m full of feelings about stuff I’m working on, but I’m not allowed to share any details about it for at least a few more months. BUT THERE’S LOTS OF EXCITING STUFF COMING UP, GUYS. I can say that, at least.**

(**Some of that exciting stuff was Another Together, my eNovella. Some of it is still to be announced, whooo!)

I started doing some research into early-90s internet use, which I posted about here.

February/March:

I spent most of February/March writing the first draft of Book 4, and I’ve just hit 25,000 words. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing a novel, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Twitter even got involved in naming one of the characters!

However much I love writing novels, though (which I really do) I wish I could pay someone to get the first 20k out of the way for me. It’s always AGONY. It’s so infuriating, because I know exactly what is going to happen, down to the minute, but I haven’t worked out how to TELL it yet. I have to write and rewrite and rewrite trying to adjust it until the right format and structure makes itself known.

It’s like chipping away at marble, then realising what you really need is a shard you chipped off, and having to glue it back together. FOR EVERY WORD. Basically: I’ve spent a lot of this month writing the same scenes five different times over, and I’m probably about to do it again. Wish me luck!

I also made a fancast of the ghost house characters here.cast.PNG

April:

I hit the halfway point in writing my fourth book this week too – hurray! I always get convinced I’ve forgotten how to finish a story about 20k words in, so I’m relieved to have remembered how it all works. It’s (hopefully) all easy going from here.

I’m so into it and it’s so intense and the characters are really being stretched more than any I’ve written before and I’M VERY HAPPY. I went through a couple of weeks where I couldn’t write at all because of stress/anxiety but I’ve got over it finally. Now I’m racing through it!! And I wish I could tell you what its abouuuuuut!

I let a few people read the manuscript when I reached the halfway point (my mum, my brother, and my friends Sarah, Alice and Cat).

I also posted a book playlist here:

  • Red Right Hand – Arctic Monkeys
  • 400 Lux – Lorde
  • Born to die – Lana Del Ray
  • Changing – Paloma Faith
  • Monsters – Ruelle
  • The Whip – Locksley
  • Don’t Lie – Vampire Weekend
  • House Party – Sam Hunt
  • Fantasy – MS MR
  • Conqueror – Aurora
  • Walkashame – Meghan Trainor
  • Renegades – X Ambassadors

May/June:

Ghost House is going on the backburner for a bit while I work on other projects, like the copyedits for TLB. I’m hoping to get back into it in mid-September.

July: 

I got some feedback on Ghost House from my agent, who read the partial manuscript at 40,000 words. She said that the pace is wrong (I’ve focused a lot on character development instead of plot) so in a spare few days between other projects I went back and cut out about 10k, and shifted around a lot of stuff to make it read faster.

It’s now down to 31k, which sounds like backwards progress, but it reads a lot better, so I’m happy. I can’t wait to finish my other projects so I can really put my head down and finish the book! When I actually have some time I think I’ll get it done in a few weeks, because I know exactly what’s going to happen, and I always write the second half of books at about three times the speed of the first half.

And that’s it for now! You can see how I do in the future by following my word count updates on myWriteClub, if you want. Wish me luck.