Monday 25 April 2016

Guest Post - Martin Owton

Martin Owton is a Fantasy and Science Fiction writer represented by Ian Drury of Shiel Land Associates. He is a member of the T-Party Writers Group and Rushmoor Writers. He runs and takes part in pub quizzes and follows the fortunes of Southampton FC. In his real life job he is a scientific researcher for a major pharmaceuticals company. He is married and lives in Lightwater, Surrey.

He's dropped in to talk about what he learned whilst writing his book Exile - which is available now!


What I learned writing ‘Exile’

  1. I can write a novel length story. Before ‘Exile’ I had only written short stories, indeed ‘Exile’ was a short story that just didn’t want to stop, and I didn’t know that I could build a solid enough story arc to last 100k words complete with subplots.
  2. It is possible to leave a manuscript alone for months, come back to it and pick it up smoothly enough that no-one notices the join.
  3. Critique is good, and if more than 3 people raise the same point you need to do something about it.
  4. When you come to reread the story you can’t tell the difference between the sentence you wrote when you were really flying, and the sentence that was ground out on a night when you wrote 100 words.
  5. That your characters really do tell you what they’re going to do next. This shows that they are well-realised and you understand their motivations.
  6. That once the story is rolling I like working with readers who are into the story. I did this on ‘Exile’, sending out a finished chapter to my readers, getting their feedback and then storyboarding what would happen next. I’ve written subsequent novels without this and missed it.
  7. That a paid edit can be very valuable. I paid John Jarrold (before he took up agenting) to read ‘Exile’; he found flaws others had missed. On the basis of his comments I added two chapters which improved the manuscript greatly and taught me how to work with an editor. It was this version of the manuscript that gained me representation.

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