Thursday 8 December 2011

Before I start my second draft...

In my last post, I was being secure when I was supposed to be insecure. Now, today, I'm feeling insecure! Let me share the problem:

I've written a novel - granted, it's very short at the moment at only 45,000 words. Four beta readers read it, liked it (at least that's what they told me) and made a few suggestions which I happened to agree with anyway. The fifth reader was my hubby who said it was a brilliant start to a psychological thriller, but that  I stopped it too soon, and another 100 pages and a really big twist would make it perfect.

Now, I hadn't tried to write a psychological thriller. I don't read psychological thrillers; they're not my thing. Anyway, because the story I've written is very character-based, I suppose - at a push, although I could never bring myself to call it such to an agent or editor - what I've written is... literary!

My hubby reads a lot of Jeffrey Deaver who writes thrillers, so maybe he's just hard-wired to need a dramatic twist. But... am I missing a trick by not writing in this amazing twist (although I have no idea what that twist would be)? I wrote something of a 'aah' moment, but it's not very obvious because hubby didn't get it until I explained it. Hubby's asked me to read a Jeffrey Deaver novel, which I will, because he says that will give me a better idea of what he's talking about.

So, my problem and my question is: should I stick to the story I wanted to tell, or take a right-turn into a completely different genre? Is the label literary something that other people apply to your work, or is it possible to write for that genre? Do you have to be much cleverer than I am to even consider writing something literary?

I'm hoping, when I start to re-read the novel myself, the answers will come naturally. But, in the meantime, if you have any comments, I'd love to read and consider them.


  1. This first draft is always the crazy one. You never really pick up on themes and stuff like that till you read through it, after it has rested a while. But try reading it again and if you still love what you wrote and liked where everything was going, then stick to your initial idea. You can still read the Jeffrey Deaver book to compare notes, but you do not have to change your genre.

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words on my blog. I really appreciated it.

  2. I would stick to the story I wanted to tell. That's what gives a story heart, that passion in telling it ...

  3. I think I'd put the first draft away for a week or so, read the book your husband suggests (and even two other ones to see a pattern - there usually is one) and see if that sparks something. Then go back to your novel and start reading it. You may have an aha moment that ties in a nice twist into your novel and perhaps you can write that from your heart :)

  4. Stay with what you think is right, and usually its what you have already done. Good luck to you and be flexible. Make adjustments where necessary, but stay with what got you there.

  5. Murees - good advice. I haven't touched the MS since August, so hopefully I've got a good enough distance.

    Joanne - thanks for commenting. Normally I'd agree, but... um... I've gone all indecisive.

    Marta - more good advice, and probably it's what I'd suggest to you if the roles were reversed.

    Stephen - welcome to my blog. Thanks for the follow. I agree, being open and flexible is the right way to go.

  6. This is your book, so write what YOU want and not what other people EXPECT you to write. No one is brilliant the first time around, that's what editing is for :)

    And on a completely different note, would you like to do a silly/crazy interview with me on my blog? Just e-mail me if you're interested. author.jabennett (at)

  7. J.A. - Yes. Absolutely. But... what if MY way is rubbish? (Lol - you don't have to answer that, that's just the little devil sitting on my shoulder!)

  8. You know the wonderful thing about computers? You can easily have more than one copy of the same story :-)

    Have fun, write 'em both!

  9. I have a hard enough time writing one novel, Sarah; writing two at the same time would make my head explode!

  10. I agree with all the comments above. It's true that it is your novel and your gut feelings should take priority but a friend of mine has had a three book deal and the editor has suggested she alters the 2nd book in quite a significant way. She's giving it a go. She's hoping that the editor will be right and she'll have a eureka moment. If she doesn't all she'll have lost is the extra time it took to do the rewrite.

    Hope that helps.

  11. Everyone else has given such sound advice, I haven't really anything to add except that you must write from the heart, not to a formula that doesn't feel 'right' for you. Congratulations again on the novella - don't forget to let us know where and when we can read it! x

  12. I go with my gut feeling. But I have an editor who is wise and offers great feedback I just cannot produce myself. Gotta have that second set of eyes looking at your MS.

  13. oh, tricky. Definitely read the book your hubby suggests, as all reading is good :D

    Definitely write what you feel comfortable writing, and what pleases you the most. Write what you'd want to read, too. You can always edit ;-) Not sure if that's much help.

    But it could be you are writing close to a Jeffery Deaver and haven't realised it - so reading one might help with this ;-)

    Also, I have this rule, if you have to explain something about your story, because the reader didn't "get" it, then you need to go back and make it clearer. (Your 'ahh' moment). If your other four betas got it, and hubby didn't, then sometimes some readers will be working differently to others, and you can't just please them all ;-) But might want to go back and make sure you have it as clear as possible. At the end of the day, the readers are important :D

    Good luck with your decisions!

  14. Karen - I started reading this afternoon.

    Linda - I agree, but hubby elaborated today and said I ALWAYS write psychological thrillers... Um... I don't think I do, who's right???

    Stephen - sometimes you can be a little too close to your story, can't you, even after leaving it alone for 4 months?

    Teresa - I'm wondering myself whether I write similar to Deaver - I've never read him, so I'm arguing blind, in a way. And yes, I'd figured having to explain part of it was my fault. All the readers told me what they thought was going on, and they were all slightly different. I quite like that. I like to leave things open so people can have their own opinion - but as I generally write shorter pieces, perhaps it doesn't work as well as a novel, I don't know.

  15. To everyone - thanks so much for all your responses, they've given me a lot to think about, and a lot that's confirmed what I was already thinking. You're all fantastic! :-)

  16. Yes, you'll know what to do when you re-read it. It's pretty significant, though, that your other beta readers felt it's strong as is and didn't suggest the twist.

    Best wishes with it. It sounds like a win-win whichever direction you take it.

  17. Hi Robyn - I like the sound of win-win. I'm in the middle of reading it again now. Boy, it needs work!

  18. I read a lot and my genre of choice is thriller. I love psycological thrillers, legal thrillers, medical, all thrillers. I am a thriller junkie. I am a big Deaver fan as well. If you would like a fresh pair of eyes as a beta reader, I volunteer!!!

    Only you can make the decision about the story you are writing, but is there a way to stay true to your character based novel while allowing your plot and subplots to create an amazing thriller?

  19. Thanks for the offer Melissa - I may take you up on it, but I haven't even finished my own read-through yet. I've just finished the Deaver book, so I might post about it soon. My problem is I don't read thrillers, so I don't feel I can write one.


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