Breaking the Back | A Writing Update

Well folks, I’m pretty excited that the first draft of my new novel – the first one outside of the Aurora series – is finished! Woo-hoo! Of course it’s only a first draft and there is much work to be done, but I honestly believe that the hardest part is complete.

You see, all the ideas are there, but it’s putting them down on paper (or screen as the case may be) that is the difficult part. First drafts are hard because they are so raw, and quite truthfully, a little bit on the crap side. So it’s hard to keep pushing through to get the story out when you know it needs editing. You need to forgive yourself less than perfect writing in order to just get the story down in the first place. If you keep stopping to edit and perfect it, you will never get the story out. Besides, you need to see where the story is going to finish up, before you can go back and sweep the path that leads there. Many writers will tell you that stories (and characters) can just take off on completely different tangents from where’d you planned them to go. So, in reality, a story really isn’t finished, until it’s finished – until you know where it finishes.

The first draft, to me, is the skeleton. It’s capturing the rough sequence of events of your story and the sketching out of your characters. It’s the foundation upon which you build your novel. Now that I have finished the first draft of TTOTS, I know what I must go back and fix, what I need to add in, and what research I need to do to bolster the story. Now I know the paths my characters are going to take, I can go back and fill them out, their backgrounds, and turn them from 2D to 3D characters. Knowing the settings my story takes place in, I can now go back and add life and colour into the world-building that will now be consistent throughout the book.

I’m celebrating this milestone because along the way of writing this book, I doubted myself many times. Firstly, after spending a good 5+ years working on the Aurora series, I have gone from writing a world and characters that I knew like the back of my hand, to starting something from scratch again, with brand new characters and a brand new world. And it made me realise just how much time and effort I had invested into the Aurora series to get it where it is today. So I was looking down the very long road at all the hard work that lay ahead of me and wondering whether I could do it. After all, it would be so much easier to just write the next Aurora book than something brand new.

I was also plagued with thoughts as to whether I had made the right decision, committing to spending time writing a new book when the Aurora series had not yet been finished. I had many friends and family (none of which are in the publishing industry) tell me that I should be focusing on the Aurora series only, but a part of me really wanted to tell a story outside of the Aurora universe (for many reasons, but I guess the main ones being to prove that I could, and the simple fact that I had a complete story in my brain that wanted to be told). Don’t get me wrong, I fricken LOVE the Aurora series and I will continue to bring these books out (I’m working on Aurora #6 next). I’ve started readers on an important journey with Carrie and Harris, and I intend on seeing them through until the very end (which I’m predicting will be book #8). I love these books and these characters, and my loyalty to them will never waiver.

On top of all this, TTOTS is a very different beast from the Aurora series, which is a slow-burn Space Opera with adrenalin-filled spikes. TTOTS is a very slam, bam, punch-you-in-the-face, ma’am, kind of story. I predict by its end it will probably rest around 90k, which again is very different from the longer books of the Aurora series. And I guess that was a fear in the back of  my mind too. Will readers of the Aurora series, like this little one-off, smaller, yet equally punchy book? (And there lies another difference – I have no intention of writing a sequel. TTOTS has always been in my mind as a single, stand-alone story, so it will never be a series like Aurora). But I think my readers will like this book too. If they like the tension I create in my Aurora novels, then they won’t be disappointed with this one either.

So, I guess in a way I’m celebrating duel milestones – I have completed a first draft of a new book, but also a book in a brand new world with brand new characters. I have overcome the doubts which have plagued me so far, and I shall steam ahead to see this book through (fingers crossed) to publication. Of course, it is very early days. This milestone is just one of many in the path a novel takes. I now have many months of editing ahead of me (which can at times be equally as hard as the first draft, although I find it much more enjoyable), and I will only be able to edit this book in the spare gaps of time I find around publishing the Aurora series. Regardless, I have broken the back of this story, and am on my way!

Now, I reached the end of this first draft by setting myself a deadline which was originally 30th June, but then I amended it, bringing it forward to before my copy edits for Aurora: Meridian landed (which I expect in the next week or so). I think this helped massively, because I had started writing this book last year (with no deadline), but it was only once I’d set an achievable deadline (and stuck to it), that things really started to move. I also used a little carrot-on-a-stick method, in which I told myself that I was not allowed to reveal the book’s title until I had finished the first draft, because I honestly believe that a book isn’t a book until it’s written start to end. I wasn’t allowed to throw this book’s title around as if it was a ‘thing’, because it wasn’t a ‘thing’ and would never be a ‘thing’ until the first draft was finished. Although yes it needs editing, the rough story is complete, and therefore it is now a real ‘thing’. I have to say this helped my motivation. I wanted to share the title, and people were asking me what TTOTS stood for – but I wasn’t allowed to tell them. Well, now I’m celebrating that first draft milestone I can finally tell you. So, without further ado, may I introduce to you my new WIP:

TTOTS Title

I’m going to keep most other info about this WIP secret for now (plot, characters, tagline), but I will share this:

  • The story is set on Earth, present day (no space travel);
  • It is told from several different perspectives;
  • ‘Stripes’ is not a military reference;
  • And, of course, it’s a Sci-fi.

Watch this space for more news in the coming months!

Cheers!

Amanda

 

About Amanda Bridgeman

Author of the science fiction space opera series, AURORA, Amanda Bridgeman studied film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies) and has been published by Pan Macmillan. Aurora:Meridian was a finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel (Aurealis).