Since my last post I’ve been busy revising and editing the first chapter of my Nottinghamshire short novel to submit into the Love Stories New Talent Award.
Happily my opening chapter was submitted well before the deadline of midnight on the 1st October – about eight hours before.
The rest of the story is in first draft form, so taking chapter one from that stage to submission standard was hard work.
I learnt quite a bit as I did each version- the final one, was version five.
The structure of the opening changed quite a lot as it was clear to me that it did not have the necessary ‘grab the readers attention’ factor.
The first draft has had a long rest since it was completed, but I feel it has been beneficial. The distance allowed my characters to continue to develop, and I was able to make a few major cuts that I know I wouldn’t have done before.
Looking up the etymology of words was essential.
I have a 1999 edition of The Cassell Dictionary of Word Histories, and if I couldn’t find the word there were a number of reliable resources online I could search.
Ideal words to describe my hero, from the viewpoint of my heroine, was a particular issue.
Though we usually associate cupid-bow lips with females, there are men with the masculine version, and obviously the description is perfect. Except that the cupid’s bow lip idea was not used until several decades later than my 1802 setting.
It may seem fussy, but if that phrase was not used at the time the story is set, then I’m not going to use it. It’s like putting a wrist watch on a Regency gentleman, it doesn’t belong there.
The other issue is that many words have changed meaning between the 18th/19th century and the current day.
I did find a few, but can’t remember now which they were. I think I need to start a list and add these changed words to it every time I find one, with a brief reminder.
It’s also difficult to reconcile the formal language of the time with today’s preference for shorter paragraphs. Look at any book written in the 19th to early 20th century and big blocks of text stand out on the pages.
(I have to admit that unchecked I can get carried away with the length of my paragraphs, so breaking them down is a major editing point for me.)
This competition was via online submission- I admit to a few butterflies and minutes before I pressed the send button…
If my entry does not make the shortlist it is not the end, it is the beginning of a period of hard work.
I’ll let you know what happens.