Book writing for beginners: How to write a novella.

I use the Agnès Grey method. 

Phase One: write the book. this is the first creative phase. begin with one single phrase that grabs you or won’t leave you alone. when the character emerges from the soup, dry her off and follow. she’s carrying the plot in her coat pocket. you just have to get close enough to get your hand in the pocket. 

Ideally you should finish up with a draft of about 10k words or less at this stage.

This phase takes six months all told if you keep revising and refining and honing as you are going, make the writing as good as you can, almost be a poet with your precision. This thing could stand alone if you wanted it to by the time you’re done wit it. 

Phase two: Rewrite the whole lot. Triple its size to 30k. Go wider, yes, but deeper is more important. Feel your way in and through, make it bigger and keep it true. Keep revising as you go along. Start keeping track of who and what and when, annotated in margins as they come to you. Make notes of bits for development.

Phase three: same again. This time revise revise, refine, hone it tighter, but double its size. 60k max. 

Phase four: Edit One: Is structural edit. Print out MS on single sheets with section/chapter breaks. Try out different structures by moving the pages around. If you move anything, you will need to tweak, before and after. 

Phase five: check out your character arcs. They are more important than the overall story arc i think, but that is controversial. Perfect your character arcs. Each character. Then their interactions. Perfect them and smooth off any jagged bits, unless your book is about jagged bits. 

Phase Six.: Refine edit. Hone edit. Tighten tighten. Be a poet again with rhythm and gaps and music. Control your punctuation to help you achieve what you want. Make sure your characters are true via their voices. Aim to lose five thousand words at least. 

Phase seven. Edit some more. And some more. Read it aloud. Make it sound beautiful. 

Phase Eight. Do the bigger snaggings. Refine correct and perfect the whole. it’s an entity now. With integrity. A self of its own. 

Phase Nine. Do the smaller fixings and leave to rest and do something else including noting down any tweaks that occur to you. 

Phase Ten: Do your final tweaks, final read through, final edit, send it off. 

Good luck. 

The Confession of Stella Moon in the Irish Times!

Publication is still five months away yet The Confession of Stella Moon appeared in the Irish Times today in their list of books to look forward to in 2016.

A truly compulsive drama of guilt, manipulation and paranoia, the narrative shifts effortlessly between otherworldly scenes, searing memories and everyday realities. Laced also with plenty of quirky humour and an irresistible 1970s ambience, this thriller is a highly original but always page-turning read.