A year ago, I came across the Faber Academy Edit your novel outline and decided to follow the outline however got distracted when I realised what I was editing wasn’t wasn’t fit for purpose and had to be written. Nearly a year later I have a full-blown novel.
However out of interest even the guys at the Academy have evolved and restructured the course.
I went back a few weeks ago to look for the outline and it had disappeared. I tried again and found it yesterday. However quite a few modules or lessons had gone. Right now it’s only open to those who did the first ‘Write Your Novel’ course with them and is less expensive than the old one.
One can only speculate the reasons why. However don’t really care since I found the course outline to be beneficial guide in helping me edit. What strikes me as interesting is the folk at the Academy have removed the self-publishing lesson and replaced it with ‘The Future of Publishing and How it Will Affect You’ None of this affects me since I’m just borrowing their outline. It’s a bit like using the table of contents to do your own thing.
So intent, aim and goal is to see if I can edit my novel by going through the outline of the course – of course I’m not going to have all the whistles and bells attached to excellent course. No professional writers, editors or even a professional readers. But hey this is an adventure so lets roll. This is their day one. You too can follow it if you are stuck on editing like myself.
So pretending in a classroom of one, I answer their questions.
I’m a daydreamer and a storyteller who loves to write. I say storyteller because that is what I focus on when I write, not conventions, quality of writing, descriptions etc. I just want to tell a story. Can’t really spell and my grammar is appalling.
My novel is story with strong romantic elements set in a fictional city and district in North America.
It’s about a young couple who after fifteen months of marriage find out they want different things, and may not be suited after all. The husband is a basketball superstar with a rough inner city background, and wife is opposite – upper middle class with a stable background but slightly silly.
I wanted it to be a coming of age for the wife but after reading my first draft, I realised it was more a love story, and could they survive their differences to be a family. At present it’s huge at about 135,000 word count.
I’ve been work-shopping the first draft on Scribophile however since I’m close to completion and started it a long ago, I want to make sure the end tallies with the story. So a bit of work before completion.
What genre are you working in?
Romance within the hip-hop, street lit or urban subcategory. It’s a wide subcategory includes genres of crime, romance, horror, thrillers, contemporary, and what not however what sets it aside it that the themes can be hard-hitting with a moral attached to it.
It kind of like the prose of hip hop, a bit of set in a novel, however has evolved and developed over the years.
It’s mostly set in inner cities of large North American cities and is what Amazon classes as African America Fiction. I just call is street/hop hip lit.
It’s different from literary fiction and commercial fiction where the characters are black.
It has a certain feel to it –big writers Zane, Sista Soja, Wahida Clark, Simone etc, now the soap-opera/TV Series Empire.
The parallels would be the hip-hop, rap and some R&B music, and some reality shows – R&B Divas, Love and Hip Hop franchise, Housewives of Atlanta. Basically what people call ratchet and guilty pleasures.
Wikipedia covers it better than I do. However that’s what I like to read and write.
What are the constraints?
The constraints are more personal. I’m not American not do I live in the states, and to a very large extent I’m writing from my imagination rather than reality or what I know. This will show at times in my book and inauthentic to some. However I’m writing about escapism and a different world. It’s what I write about for various reasons.
I also don’t use certain profanities, they aren’t part of my vocabulary and therefore not part of my characters. Then again not everyone’s curses, I think the late E. Lynn Harris only used some words like twice in his novel.
I think that is the biggest constraint however what had spurred me on go on and complete this despite this glaring constraint is EL James and Fifty Shades of Grey, also lots of American writers who place their characters in the UK, or have English characters yet sell. So not a problem for me.
My writing tutor had commented it would be more authentic if set in Britain and I agree however I write generally how I feel. I did try to change one book but the characters felt so different. I do set stories in the UK but they have a different feel and energy to them.
Generally it is my preferred genre of writing and reading.
What are the freedoms?
Anything goes in urban hip hop/street fiction provided it is authentic to life and a strong story and strong characters readers can relate to. Absolutely anything once a good story is told. This is what the readers want.
Strong characters .This is can be a little difficult but also liberating at the same time since different readers of the genre relate to different types of characters. There isn’t a convention and this is more inherent in parallel music and reality shows. So unlike mainstream fiction it’s hard to predict what characters would take off.
For example in Love and Hip Hop, my favourite character is Joseline Hernandez, however some love Erica Dixon.
What are the market expectations?
The main characters are black or of black origin. Sounds simple but it’s simply a genre that features modern African-Americans from a wide range of backgrounds, walks of life and classes. From the underclass to the billionaire. It’s normally based in cities and has a whiff of escapism though firmly based in reality.
So I imagine everyone would sit at a round table and discuss these questions. If you are writing and wanting to edit your novel, perhaps try answering these question.
What I gained after doing this exercise is that I’m writing what I like not what I know, and I don’t have a North American background so my work may have a certain gap, a bit like when I read books set in my parts of the world. This could apply to historical novels or books in different settings.
There may be limited commercial viability and perhaps these stories may be better set in my homeland. However. But. The big but. I’m writing what I love to write. More importantly, I’m writing what I love to read.
So not going well with the questions, since I realised I’m as stubborn as mule when it comes to writing. And why not so?
I’ll post my next sessions soon if I get round to them.