Four chapters do not a novel make

A month ago today I submitted the first four chapters of my novel to the university for assessment. For those of you who aren’t up to date, I’ve just begun my Masters of Creative Writing, and after years of procrastinating my brilliant (to me anyway) idea, I’m finally putting words to paper and actually writing the damn thing.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a tough few months. With deadlines and large wordcounts and a new job, not to mention the fact that writing a novel is HARD, other elements of my life pre-novel-writing have suffered – most notably my blog (as you’ve probably noticed) and any semblance of a social life.

I’m not one to complain. Let’s be honest, for an introverted book nerd such as myself, a life of quiet solitude is what one aspires to. Being able to write daily and having an actual reason to stay at home and get on with it is hardly a burden. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the project seems far too big for my own little self to manage. I’ve often caught myself thinking what’s the point, when I’ll never be half as talented as the Dickens or Rowlings of the world. Sometimes the words on paper just won’t match the scene in my head, and I’m certain I’m destined for a life of solitary mediocrity.

Sometimes I just want to go out and do something other than sit at home and write a novel.

And then, just when I’m ready to pack it all in and run away with fairies, something happens.

This week, I collected my first four chapters, as marked by Vogel award winning author Rohan Wilson, and I smiled. I smiled, because even though the last few months have been hard, I knew, as I’ve known all along, that it would all be worth it.

Assignment One: 15,000 words

Result: High Distinction


Whilst I realise I’ve still got a long, long way to go, not least of all being to write the rest of the story, it’s nice to know that I’m on the right track, that I’m doing something right, and that someone else thinks my writing is actually not bad. It’s a good feeling.

That said, while I’m happy with the results, even those chapters still need a lot of reworking and, more importantly, four chapters do not a novel make!  A long road awaits me, but I’m afraid the blog shall once again suffer as Semester Two begins and I focus on the next few chapters. I hope you’ll forgive me for that.

In exchange for your understanding, I’m going to offer you a sneak peek of some extracts of what I’ve written so far, AS LONG AS you promise to keep in mind that these are early days and there is much work still to be done. Deal?

Click on “The Novel” at the top of the page, or here to have read. The Prologue is up and ready for perusal.

As always, your feedback is invaluable, and I look forward to hearing what you think.

Happy weekend all.

31 comments on “Four chapters do not a novel make

  1. Ahh it must be such a great validation for you to get a high distinction at this early part of your novel. What an incentive to keep going! I read your prologue – it’s very intriguing. I dig me some dragons.

    Can’t wait to hear more about your course :) make sure to make time to blog about it!

    • Absolutely an incentive to keep going! Hopefully the rest lives up to the good start!
      And who doesn’t dig a good dragon?! ;) Thanks for stopping by, Serena!

  2. I”ll have to check your novel later this week. Would be glad to read it and give feedback. I think your hesitations toward writing the novel are what all us writers go through. Shoot, I’ve been working on a 5 page short story for the last month and just barely finished the draft. I can just imagine a novel is like 10 times as difficult. Good luck and keep at it!

    • Thank you Nicole! I think there’s a misconception that short stories are easier and faster to write than novels simply because they’re shorter. It’s my experience that because they’re shorter “word property” is much more valuable, so you have to spend far more time perfecting every paragraph/sentence/word/comma! So I absolutely feel your pain re your 5 page story (and look forward to reading it sometime?!). I’ve only got the prologue up for the time being. I’ll add extracts as I go, and would be so grateful for any feedback!

  3. Congratulations. Writing a novel is hard work, but it’s always worth it in the end. I torture myself every November with NaNoWriMo, but I’ve finished twice now and am going for a third this year. Last year’s choice was terrible and the words are collecting dust. Those characters have nothing to say to me. I actually pulled one and put her in another story, but she’s gone silent again. (I know I sound crazy talking about my characters like they are human. This is why I’m single and spend my weekends home alone.)

    • Thanks Brianna! Go you with Nano! I participated last year, and whilst I did get 50,000 words down, they’re barely worth kindling for the fire, and like yours, collecting dust! I might give it another go this year, and use it to make some progress with my current project. And don’t worry, I think most of us writers talk about fictional characters as if they were real and spend our weekends home alone – I know I do!! ;)

  4. Congrats, Katy! Great news about your first assignment. All big tasks seem daunting in the beginning, but bit by bit, they get done. Your blog will always be waiting. Good to focus on your novel right now. Finally saw John Carter. I enjoyed it and am glad you convinced me to see it. It’s interesting to ponder why it didn’t do better. Good luck with your writing & your studies!

    • Thank you Jill! It’s made all the more worthwhile by your kind words and support. In fact, I wouldn’t have even had the courage to apply for this Masters without the encouragement and support of the readers of this blog. What an amazing community of people you are!

      Ahhh!!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed the movie! I knew it couldn’t only be me! Ha!

  5. Wow, Katy! High distinction!! Congratulations, your hard work is paying off. :-) Thanks for keeping us updated!

      • No worries. :) I’m interested to hear your progress, because I nearly enrolled in a Master of Creative Industries course this semester. I’m doing a Grad Dip Ed instead (went for the guaranteed-job angle) but I would still love to do my Master’s one day. Do you think it’s better to write a novel within the framework of a Master’s degree, or would you be writing this novel anyway?

  6. It seems like a mountain doesn’t it. A little bit every day and all those words some together. Thanks for putting the prologue up, I’ll go and have a read. :)

  7. Do not knock those four chapters. And you have been critiqued and found to be amazing.
    Just keep doing it.
    Targets are the way to go.
    Even if you only write 1,000 words a day, just about 3 pages of A4 double space -, do the maths. You can do this.
    Will go and take a look at the prologue.

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