Sunday 28 July 2013

The List - First Draft

If you've had a look around my blog you might have noticed my new WIP (Works in Progress) page. There I've listed all of the stories I'm currently working on including a new novel titled The Flower Farm (working title) and a short story called The List (another working title).

At the end of last week I finished the first draft of The List. I must stress that at this stage it is a very rough draft, but finishing a first draft is always exciting so I thought I would share a little of that emotion with you. 

The idea for The List came to me after my boyfriend and I visited an Asian supermarket. We were through in Glasgow and I knew that there was a big supermarket out in the Partick area that sold mainly Chinese ingredients, but also Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian ingredients too. We're both really passionate about food and cooking and since we have just had a new kitchen fitted I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out some new cuisines.

Some of our haul...

The supermarket itself was brilliant. It looked like any 'normal' supermarket, only it was much more sparse inside. No big gaudy advertising, no rows of trolleys and baskets, no big fancy display units. The signage was written in both English and Chinese and the freezers were packed with ingredients, most of them completely new to me. Thankfully, my boyfriend had some idea of what basics we should be looking for and we collected those first and moved on from there. 

Cock sauce?

Shopping there was a really good experience. I felt a little out of place, even though we were far from being the only white faces in the shop, but still I wondered what the Chinese patrons made of us picking up random things and trying to work out what they were. Although there were signs written in English, some of the product descriptions had been lost in translation - 'dried fungus' (some type of unspecified mushroom), 'shredded dried sea vegetables' (seaweed, I think), 'glutenous powder' (flour, maybe?!). It was fun trying to work out what things were and what we could use them for, but we were definitely a little out of our comfort zone. 

Some more of our haul!

That feeling stayed with me after we had left the supermarket. We had stepped out of our comfort zones to try something new and we were rewarded with a great experience. I quickly decided I wanted to put that experience in a story.

I thought about what might motivate someone to take on a new cuisine (other than curiosity) and I came up with a scenario. What if a character - a man - felt like he wanted to spice up his life a little? Open his mind to new experiences. Maybe he might decide to change his normal western supermarket for an Asian one and step out of his comfort zone. Maybe there might be more that he would want to do. What if he had a list? A bucket list of sorts. A list of things he had never tried before, encompassing everything from the most extreme to the most mundane. And there I had an idea for a short story!

I began the first draft at the start of last week. I focused just on the description of the supermarket and explored my character's feelings, his nerves, his apprehensions, his misunderstandings, and then I moved things along from there. 

Even more of our haul!

I wrote in two characters - best friends of my main character - and gave them the task of coming up with a list to help their friend who has become stuck in a repetitive rut. Then, I had to find myself a romantic lead (I found him in the supermarket!) and explore what new experiences he and my main character could have together. 

At the moment, I'm sitting at nearly eleven thousand words for my first draft. As I said, that draft is very rough so a second draft will involve me tearing my story apart, adding lots more detail and character quirks, and then of course working out a point of tension and a resolution. 

I always find the second draft a lot more fun to write than the first. First drafts for me are always a hard slog. I have to force myself to get my thoughts down on paper and keep my word count high. The temptation to write down '- insert more description here -' or '- insert sex scene here! -' can sometimes be overwhelming, but I know that doing that will hinder my success and enjoyment when it comes to starting the second draft. Despite knowing that, it's still sometimes hard to resist. 

For now, I'm in a great position. I have a story I love and that I think is interesting and different, and I have a draft that I can work with. The challenge for this week will be working up a second draft and then I'll be able to share it with a few early readers to get their feedback. 

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully by this time next week I'll have a story nearly ready to be submitted to a publisher. Fingers crossed! In the meantime you can check out my latest release (also a short story) A Secret Love available at all good eBook retailers including Amazon

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