Burnt Chocolate. Draft Two. Day 1.

19 Nov

The time has come. To stop the research, to stop the planning, to stop the post-its. It is now time to flex my fingers, turn my head from left to right to crick my neck, to make myself a fresh coffee. And start writing. Draft two of Burnt Chocolate.

It was just ten days ago when I arrived home from my first ever writing retreat. This writing retreat, held at Folly Farm in Bristol, was inspirational. It was enlightening. It was practical. And it contained a lovely bunch of writers, who, guess what, were going through similar anxieties to me. So it was also comforting.

The writing retreat, held by Julie Cohen and Rowan Coleman, has enabled me to map out my entire novel in my head. I know exactly how it will go now, give or take a few changes that will happen naturally as I write. I know its theme, I know its elevator pitch (thanks to a fantastically helpful workshop by Danuta Kean) and I have taken out a major plot point which wasn’t working. I have also, thanks to Julie’s brilliant advice in my one-to-one session with her, created actions and a proper plot – always helpful in a story – and I’ve also now got the confidence to tackle the hard bits. These are the emotional bits where I’m going to draw on my own experience, and experiences of others which remind me of my experience, and which upsets me. All a bit cryptic I know, but I’ve also learnt not to discuss the plot of my novel in detail because it will stop me from writing it all down. Fatal.

Julie has a fantastic method of working with post-its. So I’ve copied it. In my post-it layout I’ve got actions (green), emotions (yellow), illness symptoms (orange) and food (pink). Oh yes, there has to be food in my novel. Lots and lots of it.


I know I am going to do it this time. It helps having an agent waiting for my words to ping into her inbox. Well, when I say waiting I’m sure she’s not sat at her desk drumming her fingers, she has, after all got lots of lovely clients, but it helps knowing that someone is expecting to see something. It is like having a deadline.

Speaking of deadlines, myself and the other writers on the retreat have all promised to have a full draft written by May 2015. I would actually like my full draft written by the end of January but that seems rather tight – so lets say end of February and see where we are.

This blog has also been wiped clean. It is a new start to reflect my mission. It is now going to document my writing adventure, along with all the other things that are dear to me like books, the great outdoors and yes, cake.

In the meantime if you would like to find out about Julie or Rowan’s courses pop over to their websites. Both have different ways of writing but both are amazing and inspiring teachers. They are also extremely generous with their time and advice. They could be just the thing you’re looking for to take your novel to the next level.

But now it is time to take mine to the next level. I’ll just make myself a fresh coffee.




6 Responses to “Burnt Chocolate. Draft Two. Day 1.”

  1. Sarah November 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Lovely post, Helen! Fabulous to hear you sounding so fired up and I’m sure you’re going to do a brilliant job with draft two. So glad you had a good time at your retreat, too; I’m super jealous! x

  2. mrscarlielee November 19, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    HUZZAH! Go Helen! You can do it! And if it’s going rubbish, remember you can go back and edit, so just DON’T STOP!

    Cheering you on from Oxfordshire! GO GO GO!

  3. Jenny Beattie November 19, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Fantastic news, Helen. Best of luck!

  4. Helen November 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Thank you everyone! I’ve written my one thousand words now. Would like to do more, but maybe later after meeting deadlines on my column.

  5. SarahW November 19, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    What an excellent post, Helen! It’s good to hear how you are steaming along.


  1. My Month in Pictures: November 2014 | Helen Redfern - December 3, 2014

    […] this month I went on my first writing retreat. It was marvellous and Julie’s top tip for post-it usage has been […]

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