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’
- 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.
- 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.
- Critique is good, and if more than 3 people raise the same point you need to do something about it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.