Date posted: 9th January 2017 / Interviews
Here at Literature Works, we like to bring you tips for all aspects of the publishing process from making time too write, to the practice of self-editing and when to seek advice from industry professionals. We caught up with Amanda Saint, whose debut novel we reviewed here, to talk about her latest project and the importance of editing in the novel writing process.
We thoroughly enjoyed As If I Were A River and were excited to see what you would be doing next. You’re currently working on your next novel, All Be Forgotten – can you tell us a little about its plot, how it might differ from your debut and what inspired it?
Thanks – it’s always great to hear that readers enjoy my stories. I hope you will enjoy the new one too but it is very different from the first and has been inspired by my work as a freelance journalist writing about climate change and sustainability. It’s set in a near future England that is very different from the one we know today and medieval superstitions are resurfacing so my protagonist, Evie, is facing execution for witchcraft. I went away to a writing retreat in December to work on it and realised that it is actually the first in a trilogy – which is a pretty daunting undertaking!
As part of your work with Retreat West, you offer writers the chance to take time to focus specifically on writing. How important is time away to write to your own process?
Very important. It’s where I write and edit the bulk of my work. There’s something magical about being removed from everyday life that really enables me to focus on and get lost in my story. This is what I aim to provide the writers that come to my Retreat West events too.
How you do you approach the structuring and writing of your first draft and does your background as a journalist in any way influence this?
The approach between the first and second novels has changed completely and I am much more structured this time around. The first novel was written with no planning or plotting and took six years to complete. All Be Forgotten is going to be ready in less than half that time. I try to switch my journalist head off completely when it comes to fiction writing as when I first started writing stories I found my more formal journalist voice was infiltrating everything! But what it has given me is the ability to just get on with writing even when I think I don’t feel like it.
What would be your top tip for writers editing their manuscripts for submission to a publishing house?
Always get other writing friends to read it through for you and let you know what they think. And be patient, it’s tempting to just send it out as you really want to be published but you must make sure that it’s the best that it can possibly be. If you can afford it then I’d also highly recommend a professional critique as the ones I had on As If I Were A River were instrumental in its development.
We’ve read a lot of commentary recently about the importance of the relationship between a writer and an editor in the publishing process. To what extent do you feel it is important to self-edit and how much would you say the comments of an editor influence your writing?
Self-editing is a vital tool and one that helped to transform my writing both on the page and my relationship with it in my head. But one of the biggest things I learned in writing my first novel is that you should resist the temptation to edit when writing the first draft. Just keep going until you get to the end or you get stuck editing and not creating any new words.
At what stage are you in the writing and editing of All Be Forgotten and what will be the next step in the journey towards its publication?
I’m very near the end now and just finishing the second draft. Then I will send it out to my critique partner and complete the final edit when I receive her feedback. Then it is going out to a handful of agents who have already expressed interest in reading the full novel, and also to a few independent publishers. Then it’s the waiting game to see what they all think!
Find out more about Amanda and her work, here:
Thank you Amanda and good luck with your writing!