Halfway House

Last week I blogged about my New Year Writing Challenge of entering the Northern Writers’ Awards by the January 17th deadline.

It’s been a tough week for reasons I won’t go into, with the prospect of more to come. Suffice it to say that the writing project has been a welcome distraction and it’s possible I’ve worked harder on it than I might otherwise have done. And it reminds me of what I get out of writing fiction, which can feel like such a slog. Spending the best part of two days reading the novel and producing a chapter by chapter outline was absorbing and almost addictive, taking me away from the immediate to something I have created but that is outside of myself.

So useful to be able to focus on the whole novel when I have spent months (years even) processing one slow chapter at a time. Some of the plot issues I could sort out as I went along, and the knottier ones were listed (already seeming less onerous). Then I was ready to make a stab at a draft synopsis to take to my writing group (who also had the chapter by chapter outline).

Looking for resources on writing synopses, I needed go no further than the fabulous Mslexia, whose website is every bit as informative and useful as the magazine (and I have been a subscriber right from issue 1). It came up about fifth in my Google search. Bingo, a four part workshop on getting published:
• Choosing a title
• Composing a pitch letter
• Writing a synopsis
• The first paragraph

Did I mention I need a title, synopsis, rewrite of first two chapters etc? These workshops are packed with practical step-by-step suggestions and have made the pulling together of the draft synopsis much more manageable. On Thursday my writing group gave me an invaluable session on some of the plotting and character issues, and although there are still things unresolved, I’m thinking, this is after all about a work in progress. I have sorted out enough for the purposes of the Northern Writers Awards entry. Now I need to smarten up the draft synopsis, re-work the first paragraph, and choose a title, before embarking on redrafting the first two chapters.

I have less than a week until the deadline, and I’m by no means sure I’ll get everything done on time. Life has to take priority at the moment, but whatever the outcome of this exercise, I will have moved far further in a couple of weeks than I would ever have managed without the deadline, and been provided with the best therapy for difficult times.

PS I’ve just worked out how to allow email followers (and I’ve only had this site for a year!) so if you want to see more, just click on the link on the side of the page.


3 thoughts on “Halfway House

  1. Hi Penny Frances nice blog. I always had the dream of writing and summiting an entry to various short story contest as well. Good luck on your entry, and Thanks for the MsLexia link.

  2. pennyfrances says:

    Thanks Courtney, good luck with your writing endeavours as well.

  3. […] I am, trying. In the early days of crisis and shock of my brother’s diagnosis I blogged how the deadline for entry to the Northern Writers Award provided therapeutic focus in hard times. […]

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