In the beginning I thought all I needed to write a good novel was determination, an original idea and good basic grammar. Wrong.
I have had a story rattling around in my head since I was at school (a very long time ago!). In my school we did an extra compulsory A-level, General Studies, which counted for nothing but was good fun. One of the subjects within this was Creative Writing. I wrote the first chapter of my novel in the creative writing class, but I never got any further and the exercise book I wrote it in is long gone now.
I’ve had another couple of goes at starting it when I’ve been off work sick from time to time, but all those attempts are lost too.
In March of this year (2014) I decided it had been annoying me too long so I picked up my husband’s IPad and started typing. It was like opening floodgates, because in less than three months I had a 130,000 word novel completed. It was a great feeling.
A couple of friends read it and said nice things about it, so I decided, with the arrogance of inexperience, to submit it for publishing. How naïve. It has been rejected by some really big names like Tor and Penguin and some even wrote me nice letters saying how much they had enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t for them.
I knew I needed more critical readers for it, to point out all the glaring plot holes and poor characterisation, so I joined an online writing group, Skypen, and a physical writing group, the Belfast Writers Group, both of which were great, but the real breakthrough came when another writer and now good friend, Jo Zebedee, directed me to the Chronicles Science Fiction and Fantasy Community Forum.
There I learned more than just the basics of grammar, which I already had: I learned how to show, not tell; to dig deep into my own experiences to bring alive the emotions of my characters, and so much more. I’ll never stop learning until the day I die, but one day (hopefully before then) maybe my novel will be good enough to be published.
In the meantime, I am honing my skills on short stories from all genres, using them to push myself out of my comfort zone and trying really hard not to put dragons in every single one!