Friday, 4 March 2011

Entering the Debut Dagger

Several weeks ago I entered the Crime Writers Association, Debut Dagger competition, but it's taken me this long to actually write about it. The competition involved submitting the first 3,000 words of your crime novel and a synopsis between 500-1,000 words.

Considering I'm 25,000 words into my novel, means that the first 3,000 words were already there. I mistakenly thought this would be hard work but not too difficult. How mistaken can one girl be.

I spent  three hard weeks editing those already written 3,000 words. I'd edit, print it out, see more mistakes, edit some more then see whole paragraphs that sounded ridiculous and rewrite those. I wrote character profiles and learned more about who my characters were. The main character I already had, but during this process, I wrote complete profiles for several of the big characters.

All this was ridiculously time consuming. I never at any point realised it would be this way. I must have edited every single sentence in those first 3,000 words. It's shown me that once the first draft is complete the work really begins.

Once I'd settled on the correct words for my entry I had to write the synopsis. A synopsis for a book I haven't even finished writing yet.
I wrote the first part, next I wrote the ending which I already knew, then the conflict my characters were facing and once all that was in, I had to sit down to work out what the middle would involve. That was difficult and I'm not sure I've got that bit down right. I have multiple victims and multiple offenders so it gets a bit confusing.

Anyway, DJ.Kirkby very kindly offered to look at my synopsis and gave me some feedback on areas I hadn't made clear, so I did a little jigging about a bit, I was finally finished one hour before the closing time of midnight. I never imagined I would work so long on it, but though I was shattered, I was and am really pleased with myself. No matter what happens, I know my story and my characters a lot better now because of the competition, so continuing with the novel itself will be an easier enjoyable process. And I have no deadlines to panic over.

It will be several months before a short list comes out and I'm definitely not expecting to make it even close, what I am, is proud of the fact that I entered. It's an experience that has helped me. I entered The Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger competition!


  1. Wow, Rebecca, this is very cool, Good luck with the writing. Didn't know you wrote crime stories.

  2. That is cool Rebecca! It certainly does take a lot to put ourselves out there. I admire your hard work and courage.

  3. Well done to you for spending all that time and effort on the competition. I totally agree with you that the time it takes to edit well is quite shocking! It sounds like you have many positives to take from the experience alone, well done and good luck!

  4. Sounds like a good experience!

    When I went through the editing process for the first time "for real" on my first published book, I was shocked at the amount of work. I'd expected editing to be work, but I hadn't really understood how every word would be analysed, every comma questioned... I doubt a single sentence has gone untouched!

  5. Well done for entering and good luck! I am looking forward to reading it once it is on the shelves of all good bookstores.

  6. Well done for entering the competition. You are certainly right about editing being where the hard work starts. I recently wrote a serial that was very well received online and got a publisher interested in releasing it as an ebook. Little did I know how many mistakes there was in the text till an editor went through it and highlighted plot holes and terrible grammar. About 80+ people had already read it and failed to mention the mistakes and I had read it dozens of times. Editing can be truly brutal at times!

  7. Well done and good luck, any experience that boosts your confidence and spurs you on to complete your novel has to be worthwhile...hope you keep us posted.

  8. Well done you!

    I am currently in a very similar situation, preparing the first 3,000 words and a synopsis of my as yet unfinished book, to get ready for a Pitch An Agent event as part of the CrimeFEST weekend in Bristol in May. In theory it's a simple process, in reality it's taking ages!

    Glad to hear it can be done though...

  9. Nancy - Thank you. My novel in progress is a crime novel which I fully intend on being a series. My shorter work however tends to be anything that comes into my head.

    Cillaclare - Thank you. It was hard work but thoroughly enjoyable.

    Rebecca - Thank you. I was really quite surprised how time consuming it was to edit it. At least I know what is to come when I finish writing the first draft.

    India - I don't think there was a sentence that wasn't re-written in some form. I was really surprised how much I needed to put into it.

    Denyse - Thank you. I really hope that one day you do get to read it, though I'm not sure if knowing the ending will spoil it for you!

    Christopher - I was shocked. I thought I had allowed myself enough time to edit what I had already written but I ended up pushing it right to deadline as it was more work than I anticipated.

    Claire - Thank you. If I hear anything else from this I will definitely be letting people know! :)

    Rin - That sounds very much like the debut dagger. Wishing you so much luck with it!

  10. Hiya - Yes, I went through the same debut dagger pain! Apparently the results are out today but I've not heard anything, so....I guess it's press on with the novel regardless! All the best for your writing Rebecca, Regards, Scott Hunter