Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Writing From Home


I love being a Hollywood correspondent! Here’s one I wrote yesterday, while cooking sausages for my kids’ lunch.

Meanwhile, it dawned on me that I have been working on my novel for a year now. It all started when I took myself on an artist’s date to Heidelberg last January, sat in a cafe and wrote the first three pages. Now I have 80,000 words and am still going strong. I am not sure how much more I am going to write in this first draft, but I sense the end is nigh – a raft of crises are happening to my protagonists and the resolution (or not) is pending.

For those of you writers who have moved onto your second drafts, do you have any tips? Do you take a break from the manuscript and think it over, or do you just dive right in? Do you work through it according to categories, or do you go chapter-by-chapter?

And do you have any means to treat the slight sick high-wire feeling of anticipation as you approach the end, or will lots of whisky do it?

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

14 thoughts on “Writing From Home

  1. Another interesting post to Buzzine, Charlotte! Love it! I am interested to see what other proper writerly people have to say in answer to your questions – not that I am anywhere near this stage, it is a stage I hope to get to eventually!

    By the way, I notice your blogroll still has my old blog ‘my co-scalled blog’. Any chance you fancy updating it to my allfivehorizons one?

  2. I think you have to discovery your own process, but I’ll tell you a bit about mine. My first drafts are very rough and often too short because I’m trying to get from nothing to something. I make a lot of changes from first to second, and at that point I expect the writing to be more complete. I have to write from beginning to end, though I know other writers who write all over the place and then cut and paste and put things together. For me it’s more like building a house. I have to start with the foundation and build up or it falls over. I don’t need to have a long break between 1st and 2nd because the first is so rough. But I do have to give some thought to the story and the characters before going on. In subsequent drafts I am better off if I put it away for at least a month so that I can re-read it more objectively.

  3. I’m not a writer but I vote for the Whiskey!

  4. whiskey, gin, red wine, banana smoothies…each has its place…I don’t think I’m much help to you, because I wrote (I now see) in such a disorganised way and I’m not really sure where my first draft ended. Now that I look back, I think what I called my fourth draft was actually my second, because that’s when I looked at it properly and it made a major shift. I did take lots of breaks – some voluntary, some not so – and they helped me, but sometimes I think I used them as a bit of an excuse if I didn’t want to do the hard work I could see ahead.

  5. Cool clothes although I doubt any of it would look good on me. They look wonderful on the models, of course! I’ve never written a book you understand but what I find works with writing designs and stuff like that is to just sit and do it until inpiration comes, then go back later and edit out all the second-rate stuff.

  6. I’ve only ever written second drafts of academic books. Usually the first draft is too long (why is that not a surprise?) and so the rewrite consists mainly of cutting. Which oddly enough, I love. It’s such a pleasure to just bin all the paragraphs or sentences that never quite worked, and once in the swing, it’s easier to bin the paragraphs or sentences that do work but aren’t necessary. My only advice is to view the manuscript with as much of an emotionally distanced eye as possible. If you get precious over what you’ve written, you won’t make the changes you need. I do speak from experience! 🙂

  7. I’m currently wrapping up Draft 4 of my second novel manuscript…these are good questions you ask, so many writers go at the revision process in a different way. I suspect you’ll find a system that works for you, but I tend to have some idea where I want to go back in and re-arrange things or fix things that I know have gone wrong as I made changes further in the story and I usually do that first. Ignoring chronological order, I just sort of attack the thing where I know it needs more work and smooth out the biggest bumps. After that I give myself a week – because I do think it helps to have a breather, but no longer than a week – and then begin from the beginning with careful revisions. 80,000 words seems like an ideal length to be working from – good luck!!!!

  8. Go for the whisky! Wow a year has gone by quickly. good luck with the resolution.

  9. A single malt goes a long way!

    Take a break and then go back and do your second draft – you need distance from your own work. Getting someone else to read it might be useful too.

  10. Finish the book and then worry about the next bit. One step at a time.

    Not sure about the new look. Very busy. No pictures. You have a lot of categories!

    Kersefontein. Kersefontein. Kersefontein.
    Mad. Mad. Mad.

  11. Love the new banner! And I’m afraid I’ve never been in your wonderful shoes of having a draft of any length, but I will quote Hunter S. Thompson:

    “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, sex, or violence but they have always worked for me”


  12. Hi Charlotte… I’m a little late weighing in here, but I was hugely interested that no one, including the published authors like Lilian and Litlove, spoke of getting external input. When I ‘finished’ the first draft of my (unpublished) MS, it was because I felt I’d gone as far with it as I could at that time. I needed a reader response to get some perspective on both its good points and bad. Lilian and everyone else is right: everyone has their own system, and you will develop yours. There is no right and wrong way of going about any of this, just keep writing and you will learn and improve your own processes, but constructive feedback from trusted readers has been an invaluable component of my own attempt to write something good.

    I have also paid twice to have the MS assessed by a well-regarded service; I have heard VERY mixed reports of these places, but my own experience was unequivocally positive (because the reports were unflinchingly clear about my manuscript’s problems).

    I hope that’s helpful. You’re a fine writer, and I’m sure your novel is coming along beautifully. Listen to your gut; do as it suggests.

  13. Okay, so am on my 7th or 10th draft…I forget. But in between I like to print up the whole thing – yes, this will be a large stack of white paper, but totally worth it. I print the whole thing and then sit down somewhere comfortable to read, pen in hand, and read. I make notes, changes and additions as I go. THEN I go back to each chapter to input my changes on the word processor. As I do this, I also make smaller changes, and then end up with an entirely new draft. Sometimes I make significant changes – like rewriting a whole chapter, or adding pages or long passages.

    I think the thing that works best about this is that I have a tangible relationship with my work when I can hold it as well as read it.

  14. Hi there! Also South African, married to a German and been here 4 months – here being the heart of Bayern, in Munich. Am also writing a book, and somedays it goes really well, and some days – well, those are the days that even the laundry looks like a better option.
    I have a question…. I would love to include an abridged version of your tips: 10 things I find wierd about germany, in the first chapter of my book. It sets the scene so well!! I will obviously credit you, your blog, etc, and rave about your book as well…..
    Haven’t got to the part of manuscript checks and so on, I am still at first draft stage … good luck with the redrafting!
    Look forward to hearing from you!! Sue

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