So, I attend my third (and last – boohoo!) all-day session of The Golden Egg Foundation Year on 30th September and, once again, it was amazing.
We studied how to improve our work by injecting sensory detail and inner thoughts of our protagonists into our prose. We got closer (in third person) with free indirect speech, exposing the attitudes, prejudices and word choices of our protagonists. We learned how these techniques help bring a story to life. Some of this, I’m sure, all writers do naturally – allowing our characters to rant in their own voices, describing smell, texture, etc – from time-to-time, but adding it to most pages (and, heaven forbid, most paragraphs!) starts to make you realise that crafting a truly immersive story, one that sings and doesn’t just hum a ditty, takes time. A lot of time.
That’s where the reality check comes in…
The award-winning book, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave took… wait for it… two years to re-write and perfect following a first draft being pick-up by Chicken House Publishing. Full time. The vast majority of aspiring writers have day jobs that keep them afloat. Two years full time may well equate to five or more part-time years of late nights, early mornings and long lunch breaks in order to devote the time needed to craft a tale of similar quality.
Then again, perhaps we are all naturals who can conjure-up a classic without putting in the sweat and the tears and the dreaming time. Yeah, right! Seriously, that’s not going to happen.
It’s pretty sobering to think that my current project (Dragonspire) could take another 2-3 years to tug, prod and cajole into a decent enough shape to pitch, but it’s better to be realistic and to do the work to produce a good story, maybe a great story rather than to settle for an OK or mediocre one. Isn’t it?
I hope so because that’s my plan. Any child who, one day, might read one of our stories, deserves nothing less than the best that we can produce.