Monday, 23 November 2015

NaNo Guest Blogger Jean Davis: Polishing for Publication

Jean Davis lives in West Michigan and this is her tenth year participating in NaNoWriMo. She has reached 50K eight of those years and settled for 25K last year due to building her new house. Don't try to build a house and write a novel at the same time.

When not writing speculative fiction, she can be found playing in her garden, enjoying a glass of wine, or lost a good book. Her novel A Broken Race is now available, and her short fiction has appeared inTheian Journal, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Acidic Fiction, Tales of The Talisman, The First Line, Allegory, Isotropic Fiction, Liquid Imagination, and more. Upcoming short fiction publications include Caffeinated Press' Brewed Awakenings II, The 3288 Review.

Follow her writing adventures at

2009 marked my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo. After that first year of proving to myself that I could indeed write 50,000 words in thirty days, I set out each year to experiment with my writing, pushing myself to try new things, writing multiple point of views, writing fantasy or humor. The one thing I hadn't yet accomplished was writing a full rough draft. I'd written the beginning and the end and left out the middle, or the beginning and the middle but no end. I wanted a complete draft and planned to flesh it out to 70-90K later.

A Broken Race was born with that intent. But what to write about? I'd been reading about creating well-rounded antagonists and wondered what it would be like to write about four men, all of whom could be the antagonist or the protagonist depending on how I spun them. They all did their fair share of evil deeds for all the right reasons according to what they believed. By the time I wrote The End, they were all still in the grey.

Though I'd written those magical two words and reached 50K, A Broken Race sat untouched on my hard drive for the next three years. I finished editing another, much longer, novel outside of NaNo, learned more about writing and publishing and worked with my critique group on other projects. I published four short stories and completed three more Novembers of 50,000 words, including what was intended to be a prequel to A Broken Race in 2012.

Having read my original effort in preparation for that NaNo Novel, I developed a serious itch to work on it again. As it turns out, the prequel effort was one of the worst things I've ever written and though I reached 50K, it was so full of suck that it will never see the light of day. However, it did help me develop the world and setting much more, and that is reflected in the finished novel. So all in all, it wasn't a complete loss. 

It wasn't until the second draft that Joshua became the protagonist. He'd grown on me during editing and rewriting and pounding my head on the desk. Critiques from fellow writers helped me tone down his evil side to become a character readers could sympathize with. He grew on them too, and by the time the third draft was finished, they wanted to hold his story in their hands. And so did I.

The problem was, the story still ended around 50K. Though I'd tried expanding the story to a more traditional length, it never felt right. That length meant I had to seek out small presses or self publish, but I didn't feel I had enough time or knowledge to effectively dive into self publishing. So A Broken Race went out into the world and limped back from the query battlefield many times. Not being in the hard and fast middle ground of a typical genre story it didn't have a lot of publisher options. And then an acceptance finally graced my inbox.

Roughly nine months later, I'm holding my book in my hands. It's a wonderful feeling that I hope many of you will get to enjoy someday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)