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My decision is made!

In case you have forgotten, I have been thinking about whether to change Tacita into third person, or keep it as first person. It has been an agonising decision, to be honest, but I think that it has finally been made. What helped me to do this is getting a random chapter of Tacita and changing it into third person, comparing it to the first person version and seeing which one I preferred. And I preferred the third person version. So yes, this means that I will be changing Tacita into third person.

And wow, it’s going to be difficult. What I’m going to do is go through the whole thing once and change it all, from ‘I’ to ‘she’ and so on, but not change any of the actual writing (except where it doesn’t make sense in third person). This way, I can get this painfully boring and difficult part out of the way first, and read Tacita as it currently is. Once I’ve gone through the entire thing and changed it to third person, I will focus on making the writing brilliant, and doing all the other changes that I have planned to do. Writing it down, it kind of seems like a pointless process– why can’t I just change it to third person and do the other things in the same read-through?– but it makes a lot more sense in my head. I’d probably get pretty confused if I did it any other way.

So, I’d better start now, because time is ticking and I don’t want to still be on the first read-through by the time school starts (which is in about a month). Wish me luck!

Your slightly apprehensive blogger, Jaz

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Slight dilemma…

I must (scandalously) admit that I haven’t actually properly started re-editing Tacita yet. (I need to be in the right mood, and I’ve been away on holiday, etc etc etc; material for a different post that I won’t be writing.) What I have been doing, though, is thinking about Tacita, and when I think of something that I know I must change, I put it in a document which I have been working on for a while. So far it is five pages long, and the more I add, the more I tell myself to change, the more I run into a slight dilemma.

That is, the question of first or third person. As you may already know, Tacita is written in first person. My reasons for this were that I could get into her head more, and reveal her emotions, thoughts and feelings at each turn, and I think that I was far more comfortable with writing in first person back when I began the novel. I was sort of thinking of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: she narrates the story, and everything is in her perspective. And it works in those books, very well. It used to work well in Tacita too, when it was a simple little story sprung from the mind of a 13-year-old.

But as I think of different things to add, different layers that I want in the novel, Tacita becomes an increasingly more unreliable narrator. For example (and I shall talk vaguely here), there is one character who is originally introduced as the antagonist/villain, but is pretty much a red herring, and it is up to the reader to discover that another character is the real villain. I never explicitly say that this character is the real villain, there is no “big reveal” in which they are like ‘HAHA, IT WAS ME ALL ALONG!’ (they are the villain for way different and more subtle reasons than the red herring ‘villain’ character), but I have found that with Tacita as the narrator, it will be very hard to show this. I could go the cliché route of having her eavesdrop on conversations revealing certain things that will lead the reader to find out that this character is the true enemy, but that is SO overdone, and would make the novel ridiculous.

So what do I do? I could solve this problem if Tacita were in third person: there would be chapters focusing on this character, and through their actions the reader would see that they are truly evil. I could do a lot more if Tacita were in third person, really, but come on. Like, that is a BIG change. As well as all the other stuff I have to improve on, I would have to go through every single page (every single word of approximately 80,000) and change ‘I’ to ‘she’, ‘me’ to ‘her’ and so on. And it wouldn’t be just that. Certain parts which made sense in first person but not in third would have to be changed; scenes would have to be rewritten, or even cut, because they were pretty much Tacita thinking to herself (and were fine in first person), and I would have to add loads of new scenes, most likely new chapters, in which to write about the things I wanted to write about. Changing Tacita from first to third person would be a BIG UNDERTAKING.

But it makes sense. An annoying amount of sense. I would have so much more freedom to develop the novel in third person, and I could still have passages on Tacita’s feelings, thoughts and emotions. She would still be the main character, of course, but I could hop around and have chapters on other characters, in order to develop them more. I feel like one problem with the novel is that Tacita is the only well-rounded character, and all other characters are only as developed as she narrates them– I have PAGES of backstory for everyone, but of course, being the unreliable narrator, it’s not as if she has knowledge of all of this and can add it to her tale at will. Her mind is focused on her goal, and herself, completely and utterly; she has no time for anything else. That means that side plots have to be to do with her, and they seem woefully irrelevant compared to what really consumes her mind (you know, becoming a gladiatrix and whatnot). In third person, though, I can have a secondary plot completely unrelated to her, and it can be interesting and intriguing in its own right, and I can develop it without having to somehow (unrealistically) put her in its vicinity so she can narrate it.

Another reason why I am considering switching to third person is that all my writing in the past year or so has been in the third person. This means that I am a lot more confident in that POV now. Before Tacita, I was more confident in first person, since most of my stories were in this POV. Therefore, it was natural that I would write Tacita in first person. Now that my writing skills are probably better in third person– although I don’t know for sure, I haven’t written in first person in well over a year– I feel that Tacita would be far better if written in it. My problem with third person before was that I did not know how to effectively reveal characters’ emotions without them explicitly narrating it (and not falling into the trap of saying “she felt…”), but with practice I now know how to, and I can actually do it well. If I changed to third person, I would not have to sacrifice any character development with regards to my main character and the long reflections she is prone to go into throughout the novel.

At this point, though, you may be thinking, “what about mixed perspectives? Why not some chapters in Tacita’s POV, and some in third person to reveal these mythical extra layers you have been going on about?” I’ve already thought about this, I assure you. But in my personal opinion (feel free to disagree), I don’t really like that kind of novel structure. From my experience of reading novels written like this, it almost makes the story cheesy, and just generally weird. It sort of ruins the flow a bit, I’ve found, and can be irritating when a plot point/twist has been revealed in the third person part, but the character who is narrating the first person part does not get it for ages. The reader has to deal with pages of the character going “ooh I don’t know, this is such a mystery”, but they know, and have known for a while. I’ve also had a look around the internet, and various writing blogs, and from what I have read there is a general consensus that first and third person POVs in the same novel are hard to pull off, and rarely work. I don’t want my novel to be top-notch, excellent and well-written, but let down by its structure of alternating first and third person chapters. So, for me, this is not an option.

As you can see, I am doubting my novel a LOT, and considering making a MASSIVE change to it. I’m not sure if it will be a change for the better, in the opinion of readers. In my opinion (arguably, the only one that matters here ;D), it would provide so many more opportunities for extra good stuff which would make the novel more well-developed and exciting. But it’s such a job. SUCH a job. My mind is at war right now, so I am asking for your thoughts (which I value very much).

So what do you say, first or third person? (I know you don’t know specifically what good stuff I will add if I go to third person, so may not be inclined to vote for it, but trust me on this, there is a goldmine of good stuff I have planned if I go for it.) You can even tell me your reasons, if you so desire.

In advance, thank you very, very, very much! Of course, when I decide, I will make a post about it. Stay tuned. 😉

Your blogger in distress, Jaz

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Freedom

School is finally over. Well, for me at least. Yesterday I had my last exam, so I am officially free for the summer (and free from that particular school forever). It’s quite odd, since the overwhelming relief that I thought I’d feel hasn’t quite hit yet. I guess it’s just hard to believe that it’s actually over. I’ve been at that school for years; going there, having lessons, dealing with the same people every day, and now I won’t ever have to do that again. It’s surreal.

There are points in which I think “oh, I’ve got to revise today” and then immediately go “wait… no I don’t!”, but they are not filled with a sudden rush of joy, or a metaphorical lightness as I remember that I no longer have to study or even go to that school anymore. Maybe it’s just the residual state of mind from exams still lurking? I was so used to that routine of getting up, revising, occasionally walking to school to take an exam, then coming back and relaxing for the evening.

But now I can relax all day, every day. It will probably take a few days for the realisation that I am actually done to fully hit. With me, I don’t normally get that sudden rush of exhilaration when a thing is done, but moments of recognition over the next few days until I can finally think “oh yes, I never have to do that again”. With these exams, being so important, I thought that maybe I’d rush out of the room, punch the air with my fists, collapse onto the floor and even start crying with relief. Because that school has caused me so much stress. And I don’t have to go there again. Of course, I can type those words, but it still doesn’t feel real yet. It is a strange state of mind to be in, but I think exams does that to you. Soon, I hope, I will get that big reaction, that almost physical reaction of oh my gosh, you are actually done. I’ve been wanting to finish at that school for years, and now that I’ve reached that point, I still can’t believe that I have.

I actually didn’t mean this post to turn into a reflective sort of piece, but there we go. It was actually going to be a sort of update, so here: it is summer now, so I have all the free time in the world and I can actually pursue my interests and hobbies. Knowing this blog, and knowing me, you will of course guess that this means Tacita. I think that my historical knowledge has vastly improved (due to one entire topic on my Classical Civilisation syllabus being Pompeii, where Tacita is set!), so I can edit my novel into oblivion and make it as historically accurate, action-packed and tense as possible. I actually have a document for myself, reminding me of all the things that I need to do and change. Tacita was actually pretty historically inaccurate, to my dismay…

I am actually really excited to be getting back into Tacita. I’ve been doing lots of writing over the months (years? I’m not even sure anymore when I last read Tacita), which has hopefully improved my style, vocabulary and all that good stuff that writers have. None of the things I’ve written will probably ever see the light of day, but nevertheless they are good practice and were very relaxing to write after a stressful day of school, studying or exams.

I’d like to think that I’ve matured from the time when I began to write Tacita– I was, what, thirteen then?– and I just pray that it will be reflected in my writing when I edit again. Of course, when re-reading Tacita the last time, there were some bits where I was thinking “oh yes my son, now that is some quality writing”, and I’d love to see how well those have aged. Even when I edited it for the first time, there were some parts where I was just like “what on earth are you even saying there?”– so this time I’m probably going to be doing that a lot more. I’m kind of worried that the entire thing will end up being a pile of garbage, but this is (so far) my most important life’s work, and I am going to make it spectacular if it’s the last thing I do!

So that is pretty much it, in terms of things that are blogging-worthy. It’s quite sad really, because I used to write all kinds of posts about different topics, and now the variety (and frequency) of content is slowing to a small and pathetic trickle. I used to have so much more time back then! And so much more passion! There were actually things on my mind that I could write coherent blog posts about. I blame exams for my creativity being sapped. Hopefully, my Muse will strike again, and I will be able to write my usual essay-length posts on whatever is on my mind. I mean, I don’t have any excuse now that I have no time.

Your reflective blogger, Jaz

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Accursed school!

I haven’t written a post in so long. I haven’t done writing either (well, not Tacita at least). I haven’t done much drawing, or really anything that I have wanted to do. That is all because of the menace known as school. They have decided to ramp up the pressure, the stress and the homework to an obscene degree, meaning that I haven’t done any editing or improving of Tacita at all. It sucks a lot. I have decided, though, that I will probably leave it until after exams, which are in May/June. That way I won’t have that nagging voice in the back of my head saying ‘hey, do Tacita instead of homework’, because we all know what good that will do for my school work. It is so annoying, because I would much rather be doing what I love– that is, writing, drawing, etc.– than tons of work. However, in this case I should probably focus on school, since things right now are kind of important, but I will get back to Tacita afterwards. The summer will be long, relaxing and stress-free, so I can write to my heart’s content, and send Tacita off to a few more agents once it is the best it can be. I feel rather more knowledgeable too, since I have just finished the module on Pompeii in Classical Civilisation, which was obviously highly relevant to Tacita (as it is set in Pompeii). There are probably more than a few historical inaccuracies that I can now correct.

So, in short, writing is on hold for the moment. In the evenings, I do sometimes dabble in little things, such as expanding on ideas or jotting down whatever pops into my head, but I’m not in the right mindset for Tacita. Tacita is serious business, since it is my best and most important work, and I need to be in the right zone in order to write it. I feel like summer will be that time.

Your slightly annoyed blogger, Jaz

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Round 2

I got a reply from all three agents, and I won’t sugarcoat it or anything; I was rejected. I’ve been surprisingly cool about the whole thing. Before I sent it off, I was so worried about how I was going to react if I got rejected– would I cry? Would I be sad? Would I lose faith in myself? The actual thing that happened was none of those. I felt oddly nonchalant about it. Oh well, they didn’t like it; there is bound to be an agent out there who will. I didn’t even feel offended by them implying they didn’t like my work enough. I know it’s not on the same level as real, proper, published adult authors. I started to write it when I was 13; I knew it could probably do with work. Now that I’ve matured, and I am three years older, I think it needs a bit of polishing before I send it to more agents. Three isn’t very many, I know, but I have been desiring to edit Tacita once more. I’ve been writing a lot this past year (nothing major, just practicing and expanding on ideas that spring into my mind), so I think I have improved and matured in my style and vocabulary.

First of all, I have to get the hell that is mock exams out of the way, and after that I will delve back into my novel and make it the best I can make it before I send it to more agents. I’ll probably send it to many more next time (maybe six like all the advice suggests), and I hope that I will be able to deal with the rejection as coolly as I’ve done this time round! And anyway, if I send it to 30 agents and they all say no, the world of self-publishing will be the way forward. In this day and age, self-published books have the ability to get really big, so it’s not a process that is doomed to end in failure for your book. That really excites me actually, but I do definitely want to try going the traditional route first. Who knows what the future holds? For now, on to Round 2 of finding an agent!

Your motivated blogger, Jaz

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And now we wait…

This post isn’t really planned, and I’ve not really thought of much to write, so it’s kind of an update-ish kind of thing. I’ve sent off Tacita to three agents, and I’m just in the process of waiting for a reply. According to what I’ve read, you should send it to six agents at a time, but I’ve not done so, for no apparent reason. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy. (Probably.)

It’s kind of a weird thought, sending Tacita to agents. I’ve been working on this novel for years, and now people outside of my close family and friends are going to read and judge it. I hope I won’t be too downcast if they reject it, but it’s quite odd. Someone completely new and completely not biased (because they know me) is going to read this little thing that I created. It is the first step to getting it published, though, so it’s beyond exciting. If they like it, I don’t know how I’ll react!

So, let’s hope that one agent in this huge world actually enjoys Tacita, because it is my biggest achievement so far, and I’ve spent too long on it to give up now! Thanks for reading this random post.

Your hopeful blogger, Jaz

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The (rather long-awaited) Agent Hunter website review

So, the website Agent Hunter, a service for writers to find and contact agents, has an offer where if you write a review on your blog about their website, they will give you a free subscription for one year. I guess this is part of my review, because that is a very good offer. If you are a writer that’s looking for an agent, you could definitely take advantage of this offer– and do it fast, because there are limited spots. Now, on to the website itself. It is a very simple and easy-to-navigate design, so you can get right in and do what you want to do without having to search around for the right buttons and whatnot. It’s not too flashy or complicated, in terms of the design, which works because this website has a clear purpose and doesn’t need to be embellished with an unusual layout, lots of extra features or flashy bits. The main thing that Agent Hunter helps writers to do is find agencies or agents to which they can send their manuscripts, so the search tool has to be self-explanatory and easy to use. And it really is! Down the side, there are ways to refine your search, by– to name just a few– genre, experience, or client list status. As the homepage says, there is a “unique” feature in that Agent Hunter asks each agent what their particular likes and dislikes are, for example ‘France’, ‘tennis’ or ‘noir’. So, if your book has a theme that is even more specific than just the mainstream genres, you can input this keyword and see if any agent also shares your passion. Conversely, you can see if the agent dislikes this certain keyword, so you know that you’re not going to waste your time with them. Overall, the search function is incredibly easy to use, and does give you a huge list of agents. Say you’ve found an agent you’re interested in. You click on them, and you are shown a very comprehensive page all about them. There are tabs at the top, to switch between looking at info about the agent themselves, or the agency they represent, and there really is a massive amount to read about both. This way, you can see if they are the agent or agency for you, as it shows you their client list status, the genres the agent is interested in, their interests in terms of books, and a list of their current clients. It is as much information as you could desire, the most important being their email address so you can contact them. It is great that all these details are put into one page, making a writer’s search all the easier. In the help section, as well as directions on how to navigate the site, there are links to more information about agents, agencies and publishers. There is an extensive FAQ all about them, with a lot of helpful advice on who to approach and how to approach them. There are links to other websites, which give even more information. It is insanely helpful, and if you are a little stuck on how to go about trying to get an agent, this page is invaluable. If you want to sign up to this service, there is a small subscription fee. People who haven’t paid can still access a few features of the site, including the search feature, but do not get the full pages of the agents or agencies. The price is very good, and you can sign up for one month, six months or a whole year. It really is an incredibly small fee, from just £5 for one month. For what you can do on the site, it’s pretty much a steal. Overall, I think that Agent Hunter is one of the most helpful websites for writers looking to get published, and basically essential if you want to contact the right agent(s). It’s super easy to use, and has everything you need to get started on your journey to publication. I am definitely going to be using it to find some agents to send Tacita to. Your reviewing blogger, Jaz

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