So I Finished My Novel, What Next?


As you probably know by now, as I haven’t shut about it, a couple of weeks ago I finished writing my YA novel. After shelving it, starting new projects, and returning to it over and over again, I finally got myself in gear and ploughed through to the end – and I couldn’t be happier.

This is actually the second book I’ve finished (I finished a YA horror a couple of years ago) but it’s the first one I feel is the right story to approach agents with. I love the horror story I wrote previously but it needs a lot more work before it’s ready to see the light of day.

Since I finished my book I’ve had a lot of people ask me what happens next, so I thought I’d put together a little blog post about it.

After I wrote the glorious words ‘THE END’ I forced myself to take a step back from my finished draft for two weeks. I watched TV, I read books, I did a lot of freelance work – anything to help me get that distance I need to rewrite effectively. I also sent my ending off to my writing group, which was a little terrifying, as I hadn’t told a single person what my plans were for the end of the story.

I met with my writing group at the beginning of this week and they gave me wonderful feedback. They loved the ending (PHEW!) and gave me some excellent ideas of how I can improve things and make it sing even more.

My next step is to read the whole thing from the beginning, making notes as I go about bits and bobs that need to be changed, things that can be removed or need some context added etc etc. I’ve also got a couple of scenes I want to add in, so I’ll write those and pop them in where they belong.

Once I’ve got a stack of notes covering the immediate changes I want to make I’ll go through and make them, so I’ll be left with another draft, which will probably a few thousand words longer but will be a really robust story that, by this point, (hopefully) doesn’t need many more big changes to the plot.

Next up I need to cut, cut, cut, as I’m already way over my target word count. I need to trim about 20% back, and while it seems like a huge figure, I do tend to waffle so I’m hoping this won’t be too painful a process – we’ll see!

(At this point I’ll send the entire thing to my writing group and take on board whatever feedback they give me – their insight is always genius!)

Story rewritten and word count achieved, hopefully by this point it’ll be a case of looking at things line by line – making everything ‘pretty’, face checking and keeping an eye on continuity; all the little details that are so important.

Once all of the above has been done (probably twice!) I think I’ll be ready to start preparing to send it out to agents. I’ve got to narrow down a list of my favourite agents (there are sooo many incredible agents out there), write my cover letter and then tackle the dreaded synopsis! That stage seems so, so far away right now but I’m excited to elevate my book to that level and I can’t wait – though I know I’ll be a nightmare for refreshing my inbox every .25 seconds.

I’m hoping to be ready to start pitching by early 2015, which gives me a couple of months for rewriting. I’m not setting that date in stone, as I don’t want to rush any part of the process, but that’s, tentatively, the rough date I’m aiming for.

Wish me luck, guys!


  1. November 24, 2014 / 1:44 pm

    Wow – what a huge achievement! Congratulations! I’m so jealous – I haven’t been able to pass the 50,000 word mark!

    Also I know you have your writing group, but if you ever fancy a pair of fresh eyes – please feel free to message me. I don’t know if you remember me but we met a few years ago at a Random House Blogger event… since I’ve moved to China (especially with blogger being banned here) its not been so easy to keep up with the book world. However I’m moving back to the UK at the end of December so I’m going to have A LOT of free time on my hands, so really, shoot me an email if you fancy it.

    If not – maybe I will see you at the next blogger event 🙂

    • Carly
      November 28, 2014 / 8:43 am

      Hi Sarah,
      Of course I remember you! Lovely to hear from you and I hope you’ve been having an amazing time in China! Definitely do keep in touch and it’d be great if you had the time to have a glance over my book – I really appreciate it :D.
      Speak soon x

      • April 8, 2017 / 5:26 am

        I love these arltcies. How many words can a wordsmith smith?

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