Continuing our Writer Spotlight series, we’re delighted to host an article by Simon Rebellato. Among many other things, Simon is a Sci-fi and Fantasy author seeking representation, and he is currently obsessed with cinema history.
Writer Spotlight is an opportunity for our members to draw attention to their iWRR ebook as well as to them as a writer, their style and interests. We’re not looking for anything in particular – so feel free to let your creativity loose!
Read Simon’s article…
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of the writing process?
Definitely the most exciting is developing the story. I could never truly articulate the exhilaration, the delight when the ideas and narrative all just magically evolves and comes together.
For The Twin World Academy I had the basic story loosely outlined in my head for a long time. You have to start somewhere so I hand wrote the first third or so circa 2004. I never thought I could do it, you know be a writer, but the idea simply wouldn’t go away. In 2005 I quit my job and travelled around the world for a year. Ideas just exploded. I love that feeling when a great idea comes, I remember jotting down ideas into my mobile phone, onto napkins – whatever was available at the time.
I returned back home early 2006 and this was the most productive period I’ve ever experienced for writing, I was just furiously pounding out ideas and concepts that were original and exciting and, best of all, my complex story all just came together like magic. This had me hooked. I wholeheartedly recommend travelling to unfamiliar places to open your head up like nothing else. As stated before, I could never describe the excitement, the feelings during this time.
And the least enjoyable?
Finding an agent? Ha ha. Seriously now, for me the most painful phase would have to be the final polishing stages. By now you’ve read through the manuscript a thousand times and you just want it done. Oh God will it ever be done? You come to learn it’s never really done though.
Briefly elaborate on your writing process from beginning to end?
It’s going to be difficult to keep it brief. The Twin World Academy came about from a strong idea of juxtaposing a real everyday teenager with a surreal, mind-bending world that although he initially doesn’t want to be part of, he learns to accept and even heal deep wounds that relate to his life back on Earth. I also like the idea that everything we learn about our world is a lie. We trust what the government and teachers tell us. For example in my story the stars we see in the night sky are not really stars at all. How does a person, the average person, know what a star really is? We go by what we’re told don’t we.
I then wrote a very rough draft of the first act of the story. I didn’t really know what the last two acts were going to be. As above I travelled the world, returned, and virtually wrote the whole thing in six months. I call it my “golden phase”.
I hired Maria D’Marco – an amazingly enthusiastic and supportive editor who helped me strengthen concepts and fine tune the narrative of the first draft. This took around a year. I also hired Gordon Keegan, an editor with extensive experience, to translate some dialogue into a German accent that I was itching to add to a particular character. I then naively thought “OK that’s it. I now have a saleable product ready to publish”. Not so.
To make sure it was “absolutely perfect”, proof reading seemed to be the next logical step. I hired another editor Nick Slawicz. It was around this time I discovered Cornerstones from glowing Litopia reviews. Wanting my story to be the very best it could be before shopping it around, I reluctantly (due to being practically broke at the time) paid up for a detailed report on my MS. When I received the report back from Cornerstones I was gob smacked. My eyes were opened very wide to the amount of work still to be done. Yet I was amazed at how much better my story could be, and how much I had missed. We’re talking publishing industry professionals here – so a detailed, honest, straight to the point critique was delivered. It was so exciting to hear them say my MS was really good and “very marketable indeed”. But it was equally disappointing to realise how much work was still to be done. I’m talking major sections of dialogue and character restructure. Thankfully the pacing and overall narrative was in place. It just needed a major tune up. This was the best money I have ever spent in my life. The report is essential for someone like me, who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. To make me realise I can take my story from good to great.
So I chopped away, section by section, at the Cornerstones report. In around six months I had the next draft ready. Before I presented Cornerstones with my MS for round two, I again wanted it to be the best it could possibly be. I was lucky enough to hire Laura Canning of Taste the Bright Lights fame. Laura and I continue to be friends to this day and if you haven’t read her brilliant, edgy book about a teenage girls life gone bad – you’re really missing out on something rather special. Laura did her job and I sent the majorly revised MS off to Cornerstones for round two. Surely it was perfect now? Not quite. I was a little disappointed that this six year project still had some fine tuning to do. And yet again the report was eye-opening, and in retrospect essential. The previous draft required a major overhaul; this one required a more subtle fine tune. Considering it could mean the difference of being published or not, I decided the extra effort would be worth it.
I’ve recently made the revisions and Laura has finished proofing this draft. So surely now I have a truly saleable product that is the best it can be? Who knows what the future holds. Some vital aspects I’ve discovered are; you have to hang in there and believe in the story, you have to continuously listen and learn from people that do this for a living (they are always going to know more than you about the publishing industry) and act on this advice, but probably most importantly is NEVER GIVE UP!
Read a free sample of Simon’s novel & download the full work here:
Connect with Simon directly here: Twitter
Thanks for your submission, Simon.
What does everyone else think?
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