Monday, 31 March 2008

Want to write...can't write

For a few days now I've been absolutely gagging to write a short story.

I thought I'd write something for the Harpers Bazaar short story comp (entries need to be in by 11th April) but the theme (ambition) isn't sparking a thing. Actually that's not strictly true it HAS sparked an idea but it's far too ambitious for me to complete in 10 days (I'd need to do quite a lot of research before I could start writing).

Quick...give me your tips for sparking a short story idea!

p.s. Knee still hurty. Stoopid alcohol.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Tada!

A koala in a baby's hat!

Knitted by moi.

Tonight.

I have no life. Official! ;o)

Knitting to save children's lives

I know A.Writer is a fellow knitter and I've got a feeling other blog readers might be too (hey, it's trendy to knit these days dontcha know!) so thought I'd blog about Save the Children's "Knitting to Save Children's Lives" campaign that I heard mentioned on Paul O'Grady's TV programme.

From the Save the Children website:

"A newborn baby can't regulate its own body temperature. It loses lots of vital body heat through its head which make it more prone to pneumonia - a disease which still kills around 2 million children each year.

Your hat can help us save a life. When you knit a hat and send it to us at Save the Children, we'll send your hat to mothers and babies in developing countries who desperately need your help."

To help (and for the knitting pattern) go here:

http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/knitting

There's also a label for you to print out and attach to your hat that urges Gordon Brown to do something about this situation.

(NB: Don't knit an all white hat as it symbolises death in some African and Asian communities according to the knitting guide)

I've got some soft wool under my bed that I was going to use to knit a teddy for my niece's birth. Seeing as she's 18 months old now I think I may have missed the boat there (!!) but I can still use it to help other, less privileged, children. Blog photos to follow when I'm done!

p.s. Hmmm...herb growing, knitting and interior decorating. If 19 year old me knew that those are the tantalising snippets of my life I'd choose to share with the internet at age 34 I think she might just have topped herself there and then (head first in a bucket of cider and blackcurrant!).

Now where's me zimmer? ;o)

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Plotting Novel 2

It's been a week and a half now since I've done any work on either of my novels - although it feels like a lot, lot longer - but my brain has been silently working away, thinking about the plot for novel #2.

I know that some people (hello Nichola!) think that plotting and outlining is a really, really bad idea but something writing novel #1 taught me is that I need to plot. If I don't I grind to a halt when I don't know what happens next and I have to pause and wait until a solution appears. I need to think novel #2 through before I write anything (as proven by the opening I already had to scrap!).

I need to think about making each scene count, about increasing the intensity of the MC's crises as the novel progresses, about incorporating unanswered questions that stick in a reader's mind, about making this book a real page turner. I also need to think about the balance between the plot and the subplots (something, I admit, I didn't actively plan for novel #1).

I was reading Holly Isle's pdf on plotting a novel and started thinking about the 'candy bar scenes' (scenes that you're really looking forward to writing) in novel #2. That's what the coloured index cards are for. I've got four different coloured cards and, co-incidentally, a main plot and 3 sub plots (okay, one main sub plot and two lesser sub plots). The idea is to write down as many different scene ideas as possible on the cards and, when I've finished, go through them to see how they fit together, discarding any scenes that are rubbish.

If you look at the bit of paper in my photo you'll see I've drawn a line down the middle with 'beginning' at one end and 'the end' at the other. It's divided into 3 Acts (I used the same structure for novel #1). All the scribblings beneath that line are the ideas I've had for scenes so far. The beginning is fairly straight forward - as it was with novel #1 (I knew exactly what the first few chapters were) and I know what the first crisis point is but, unlike novel #1 I've got quite a few scenes for the second Act and none for Act 3. In theory the scenes I scribble onto the index cards will help me structure Act 2 (I know what the crisis point is at the end of Act 2 which is a help).

Act 3 however...

is a problem.

I don't know what happens!

There's a big mystery to be solved in novel #2 and, at the moment, I have absolutely no idea whodunnit! I'm not even very sure who the suspects are. I read an interview with a crime writer recently who said that, when she starts her books, she has no idea who dunnit until the end. That way, she argues, the reader will be as surprised as she is. Fair point. I'm hoping my subconscious will fill out Act 3 in the next couple of weeks but, if it doesn't, I'm not going to worry. If I've got Acts 1 and 2 planned I'll just start writing and see what happens.

But first, on with the fun stuff. Thinking and scribbling and shuffling.

Am I the only one that finds this bit more fun than actually writing the novel (candy bar scenes aside)?

p.s. If anyone has found any helpful hints online about writing a mystery/whodunnit please feel free to point me in the right direction!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Easter Film Fest!

Gosh, have I really not posted since Friday? Hasn't time flown! Unlike most of England I'm not back at work today (hooray for working for a University!) and am enjoying my last day of freedom by doing not very much at all. And it's wonderful! That's not to say I haven't got tons to do - I have. I decided to redecorate my bedroom on Monday and, as a result, my tiny hall way is FULL of bedroom stuff and I need step through it carefully, Crystal Maze style, to avoid something falling over and trapping me forever midway between the living room and the kitchen.

Unfortunately I still need to do a second coat in the bedroom but I can't be bothered so the hallway will remain cluttered until this weekend when I'll brave the paint pots and roller again. Am I the only person in the world to get completely spattered with paint when I use a roller? When I finished the first coat yesterday it was in my hair, on my face, all over my black top and down my jeans. Even my toenail varnish turned from blood red to polka dot style.

And don't get me started on the dinner plate sized splodge of paint on the bedroom carpet. I backed into the bookcase and knocked the roller tray onto the floor. Gah! I scrubbed and scrubbed the carpet with warm water and washing up liquid and there's still a big magnolia-coloured stain. Looks like I'm going to have to add 'replace bedroom carpet' to my list of things to do. What a pain!

Anyway, enough moaning. Other than my decorating hell yesterday I had a great Easter. I polished off my Thornton's Easter egg on Friday and spent the weekend either shopping or watching DVDs. Great!

First off...

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium



I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this film. Some films try and capture the essence of magic and fail miserably (too twee, too stoopid or too sickly sweet) but not this film. Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is about a magical toyshop run by 243 year old Mr Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) and managed by struggling composer Mahoney (Natalie Portman) and frequented by a friendless, hat-obsessed little boy (Zach Mills). The film's theme (about believing in magic and the value of play) isn't a subtle one but this is a children's film.

What really touched me was a parallel I couldn't help making between Mahoney's lack of confidence in her musical ability and my lack of confidence in my writing ability and how grey the world can (literally) become when you stop believing in yourself. It sounds cheesy but the end of the film (I won't spoil it) made me well up. If you're struggling with self confidence you could do worse than watch this film. If nothing else it'll transport you back to your childhood when you believed in magic and miracles (unless your heart is made of stone). It's also a film that will, I'm sure, delight children.

It's not a perfect film by any means. I found Dustin Hoffman's Mr Magorium a teeny bit annoying for a start but it's the best film of this type I've seen for a long time.

Score: 9/10


Two Days in Paris



I just looked at the reviews of this film on Amazon and was surprised to see that opinion is very much split. It seems you either love this film or you hate it. I loved it. Written, directed and starring the very talented Julie Delphy (Marion) and co-starring Adam Goldberg (Jack) the film explores 2 days in a couple's 2 year relationship. On holiday in Europe the couple travel to Paris to explore the city and visit Marion's parents. So far so uninspiring right but I was hugely amused by the interaction between the French family and American, neurotic, germ-obsessed Jack who doesn't speak French. Delphy's keen eye for family dynamics and excellent use of dialogue made me laugh out loud several times.

What she does even better, if that's possible, is the relationship between Marion and Jack. She's so spot on she made me cringe several times as the couple goes from light hearted banter to full blown argument. This is a couple so insecure and jealous they constantly second guess each other and push each other's buttons. During the course of the film several of Marion's exes appear out of the woodwork causing Jack to become more and more possessive and more and more obsessed with her past. Your sympathy switches from Marion to Jack and back as you try and work out who's in the right (if either of them are). You might laugh, you might cringe but you will feel like a voyeur, watching someone else's relationship play out.

If you've even had an argument with a partner about your exes or your past you'll be able to relate to this film. Probably one to watch to with the girls rather than your partner though!

Score: 8/10


Away From Her



Julie Christie was nominated for an Oscar for this film and I was really looking forward to seeing it...BUT...I couldn't help but compare it with Iris [2002] (starring Judy Dench and Jim Broadbent) which is one of my favourite films ever...and this film really suffered in comparison.

I never really believed in the relationship between Fiona and Grant in the same way I did between Iris and her husband. As a result I didn't feel as distraught as I thought I might when Fiona goes off to a care home and, while Christie's portrayal of an Alzheimer sufferer was certainly subtle it didn't make me ache in the same way Dench did. With Dench I felt her confusion and fear with Christie it all felt so wishy washy and just...I don't know...fine (like having Alzheimers wasn't the worst thing in the world). There were some touching moments in this film but it was too slow, too gentle, too meandering to pull me in. In Iris the two main characters constantly interact, they bounce off each other, they argue with each other, they cry, they scream, they're human...in Away From Here they're constantly at arm's length, two stranger in effect and, as a result, there's no dramatic tension.

Maybe if I hadn't seen (and loved) Iris I might have liked Away From Her more. Shame.

Score: 6/10

Oh! I did do one thing writing-related. I edited a short story to send off to a woman's magazine. That makes two subs this month. Better than nothing I suppose!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Just a quickie

This arrived yesterday, all the way from Australia! It's Etchings literary journal (published by Ilura Press) and features my story "Bookmunch" about a woman who can taste novels (she literally can, she cuts out bits of novels and puts them on her tongue - for example, humour tastes of cheese and rhubarb!). The only trouble is she can only taste emotions she's experienced before and romance is a bland nothingness...until she meets Chris.

Anyway, it's lovely to receive another publication, particularly such a beautifully put together one, with one of my stories in it (and I got paid too!). The only trouble is there's nothing left on my list of 'publications I'm waiting for' now it's appeared :o(

Because I've been so busy with my novel(s) since December my sub rate for stories has dropped massively. Whereas I used to sub about 15 stories or flashes a month that rate has now dropped to about two (if I'm lucky). I haven't subbed anything to competitions either, apart from three flashes (I really want the writing retreat holiday that is the prize for the Biscuit Publishing comp). That said I do have 11 subs out there so I've still got a reason to compulsively check the post every morning to see if anything's come back.
Eurofiction (Slingink's 10 story competition) is now over. I've already subbed one of the 10 stories I wrote over 20 weeks but there are a few more in there that can be edited and subbed so that's something to do while I mull over novel #2.
Talking of which...
I've been hearing good stuff about Cornerstones recently (an editorial/critique service for unpublished authors) and when I heard that Helen Corner, the woman who runs the business, had published a 'How to' book I had to rush out and get it. I know, I know I've already got tons of 'How to' books on the craft of writing but I was sucked in by the Amazon reviews and the fact there's a section on agents and publishers that is relevant to the UK market (most of the How to books I've got are written by Americans).
Anyway, I've been reading through it and I'm finding it fantastically helpful when it comes to thinking through novel #2. Most of what's in the book I've read before (show don't tell, POV etc) but, unlike most of my other books, it's aimed purely at the commercial author. The sections on Plot and Structure, Planning Your Story and Great Openings really got me thinking about the shape of my novel and whether the idea I've got fits the 3 Act Structure. All good stuff.


I've also ordered (but they haven't arrived yet) The Writers' Book of Hope (as mentioned in one of my previous posts) to give me a little boost (I might need it if all the agents I've sent novel #1 to hate it ;o)) and books by Rowan Coleman, Kate Harrison and Lucy Diamond. These girls know what they're doing when it comes to commercial fiction and studying 'How to' books is one thing but it's equally important to read (and study) bestselling fiction in the genre you're writing.
Hmmm... so much for this post being 'just a quickie'! Right, the cupboards are bare so I'm off to the supermarket. Oh glamorous, glamorous writer's life.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

How do you get your novel into bookshops and supermarkets?

Some very interesting stuff here:

http://www.danutakean.com/blog/?p=245#more-245

Particularly scary was the revelation that 200,000 books are published each year and your average branch of Waterstones can only stock 30,000 books (and that includes the classics) so, if if your book is listed on Amazon that doesn't guarantee it's actually in bookshops.

And what of the supermarkets? How do they decide what to stock? The discussion on the importance of a novel's cover is an interesting one...

Enjoy.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Easter

Tomorrow I'm off to see a band I've LOVED since I was thirteen...



...The Cure! I've never seen them live before and I'm soooooo excited. Apparently they're not plugging a new record so they'll be playing all their hits - Lovecats, Fascination Street etc. Oooh, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Then I'm going to take the first couple of day of Easter just to relax, eats lots of chocolate (must buy Easter eggs tomorrow!) and watch lots of films, then it's back to the redecorating (oh gawd).

Oh! And the other night I had a idea for the NEW start of Novel #2 and, so far, I'm quite excited about it. It's a good hook, it ties in with the title of the book and, hopefully, it'll be humerous. The structure of novel #2 is going to be more complicated than novel #1 so I need to spend some time thinking, plotting and planning. And I'm going to take my time.

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you all have a lovely relaxing time :o)


Friday, 14 March 2008

FINISHED!!!

Finished, finished, finished, finished!!

Rewrite DONE.

All 80,024 words of it (originally 89,000 words).

DONE DONE DONE DONE.

God I'm going to enjoy the next few days.

Then on Sunday I'm going to print the whole thing out and read it through.

And then panic about what the agents think about it.

But until then...

HOORAY! I've finally finished!

p.s. The feedback on novel #2 is good. A few comments/tweaks I need to look at but otherwise encouraging. Phew

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Herb watch!

The herbs are going great guns! The pot that came up first (that I talked about in a previous blog posting) is in the back right of the photo but it's been overtaken by a herb growing at an astonishing rate in the back left! I think that's the sweet marjoram but I've got no idea. Pretty sure I know which pot contains the chives though ;o)

Will have to re-pot the marjoram soon as it's grown too big for the plastic greenhouse but that leaves a bit of a problem... what to do with them all? I've cooked with basil, thyme, coriander and parsley before but never marjoram or chives. What do I do with them?

In other news the rewrite is coming along well. I'm on 86% at the moment and the best part of a weekend to do the final 14%.

The trouble is I've got a terrible attention span so need a take a couple of hours break after every 2%! It all depends on the scene I'm rewriting too. Some scenes are a joy and I speed through them, enjoying every word. Other scenes...well...I just have to read the opening sentence and my heart sinks and I think "Gawd, this one is going to need some serious work". That's when I take a break. It's like I need to go away and build up the strength to return to it!

Still, not much more to do. I swear here and now that this is my last rewrite of this novel. No more. Well, unless an agent signs me and asks me to make changes or *cough* I get a publishing deal and the editor asks me to make changes. I really, really, really want to get back to novel #2. I miss the bit about writing that's to do with imagination and excitement rather than grammar and sentence construction!

69,202 / 80,015 words rewritten (86.4% of novel)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Do agents look at wannabe authors' websites?

This American agent does (if she's interested in the submission):

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2008/03/talking-websites.html

BUT she does mention she doesn't think it's a good idea to talk about your agent/editor hunt in a public weblog.

Another good reason why I moved my blog to a more anonymous URL ;o)

p.s. After yesterday's debacle I was up, out of my seat, coat, hat and scarf on and ready to go BEFORE the train pulled into Brighton station. As soon as the doors beeped I was out of the door!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Have you ever been so lost in a novel...

...that real life confuses you a bit?

This morning I was reading Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips on the train to work.

I'd just got to the part where two of the characters take the train to the underworld with the souls of the dead when my train pulled into Victoria station. I'm normally pretty slow at getting ready to go anyway (need to put on coat, hat, scarf, put mp3 player in coat pocket, put handbag over shoulder, grab other bad) but I was even SLOWER this morning and by the time I moved out of my seat my carriage was empty. No worries, I thought as I walked toward the door, it just means there will be less of a cram at the ticket barriers.

The doors were closed.

It's fine, I thought. Just open them.

Press Open.
Press Open.
Press Open again.

The doors remain closed. The open button wasn't lit up.

Shit, I thought. I'm locked in.

I stood there, frantically pressing the button for several minutes until I realise the doors WERE NOT GOING TO OPEN.

So I walked to the next carriage. The open button wasn't lit up.

So I walked to the next carriage and the next and the next.

I was locked in the train!

I started to feel a bit frantic and hurried through the train searching for a way out. And then...

I saw a cleaner. Hooray!

"Excuse me," I said.

The cleaner ignored me and continued collecting newspapers and stuffing them into her clear plastic sack.

"Excuse me," I said, louder.

Still no response. Not even a flicker that she'd heard me.

"Excuse me," I said again, nearly shouting.

The cleaner reached into her pocket and pulled out her mobile phone and started texting someone.

It was in that moment that fiction blurred with reality and for one teeny tiny millisecond I wondered if I'd actually had a heart attack in my seat, not noticed I was dead and was now a lost soul wondering the Brighton to London train for all eternity. It didn't help that in MY novel one of the characters wants to haunt a train station.

I ran back down the train. There HAD to be a way out somehow.

And found an Italian couple who were also locked in. And they smiled at me and spoke. Hoorah, I wasn't a ghost after all, just incredibly dozy.

After about ten minutes during which the Italian pressed their faces up against the windows and screamed (they were posing for photos for their friends who were on the platform) the overhead voice announced "This is the Brighton train, stopping at..." and finally, FINALLY the doors opened.

I was free.

Rewrite

Hooray! 80% done. Gawd, is there really only 20% left to do? Who'da'thunk it!

64,791 / 80,380 words rewritten (80.6% of novel)

Monday, 10 March 2008

What Type of Writer Are You?

Saw this on Karen's blog and couldn't resist trying it myself. Interesting stuff (if a tad unscientific!) as I do see my novel as a film in my mind. One of my critiquers said something about my writing style being 'film-like'. That sounds like a compliment but it may have been a back-handed way of saying I wrote loads of dialogue with too little description!

Hmmm...maybe I should ditch novel writing and be a screenwriter instead? Or maybe not. It's an even more difficult industry to crack!

You Should Be a Film Writer



You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.

You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.

Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.

And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

Storm Damage, What Storm Damage?

Grrrrr!

On the plus side it's my neighbour's fence so they have to pay to have it fixed (if they get it fixed!).

On the minus side, that's my garden it's fallen into (bye, bye budding daffodils).

Have dragged the fence into my neighbour's garden and am hoping half a fence dividing the two gardens won't put off anyone interested in renting my flat!

Hmmm.

Murder Most Famous

Bestselling author Minette Walters tutors five celebrities in the art of writing a crime novel.

If you missed this 5-part series on BBC 2 at 1.30pm this week hurry and get yourself to the BBC website to watch it again before they take it down:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search/?q=murder+most+famous

At the time of this post there's only 12 hours to watch or download the first episode so, depending on when you're reading this you might have run out of time. But you can still watch episodes 2-5 (there's a length summary of the previous episode at the beginning of each).

I thought I'd hate a programme that teaches celebs to write a novel but it's actually quite good.

If you don't want to watch the programme but want to read Minette's crime writing tips go here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/murdermostfamous/

Rewrite

I was so chilled after my shiatsu massage this afternoon I hardly did any of my rewrite at all!

But I've managed to inch the total up a tad. 77% done and I'm partway through Chapter 34 (there are 40 chapters altogether). It sounds like I'm really near the end so how come I've still got to rewrite 18,300 words?! Apparently the last few chapters of my novel are tons longer than the chapters earlier on in my book and I'm not sure whether or not that's a good thing. Aren't things supposed to speed up at the end of a book? Hmmm.

Anyway, just under 23% left to go. I'll know whether or not the balance is off when I come to re-read the whole thing at the end.

62,072 / 80,372 words rewritten (77.2% of novel)

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Book sales

Where your book needs to be sold in order for you to make more sales.

Part IV of the series of Write Stuff videos I've been posting:


For more of this kind of stuff (actually it's mostly about writers and their working day and their book recommendations, but it's still interesting stuff) go here :

http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=TheBookShow

The importance of a book cover

Part III:

The Editor's Tale

Part II of the clip I posted below:

The Agent's Tale

Some interesting views in this:

35 traps writers fall into

I have to admit I've only skimmed the 35 titles on this list but I will be going back to read some of them in more detail when I've got time:

http://www.rachelsimon.com/wg_common.htm

Friday, 7 March 2008

I'm on the front cover of a magazine!

Okay, not me but an advert for my story. See the cover of Take a Break Fiction Feast over there on the left? See the text 'A different kind of magic' and a photo of a little girl (you might want to click on the image to see the bigger version)?

That's an advert for my story! How cool is that?

And how cute are the illustrations for my story (two of the three pages shown below)? I'm not normally a girly pink type of girl but I think it just looks...well, sort of magical, which really suits the story.

I'm really happy (feel sorry for the friends I met up with at lunchtime. I kept waving the mag in their faces going "Look, that's my story. That's my story!) .

I'll be even happier when the payment cheque drops through the post!

Take a Break Fiction Feast featuring my story. Out now! :o)

I grew something. I actually grew something!

But I have no idea what it is!

Last weekend I picked up a little 'grow your own herbs' pack (marjoram, chives, parsley, basil, thyme and coriander) and, because it was reduced and I was feeling unusually green fingers (I say unusally because I've never actually grown anything before apart from a few sad-looking daffodils in the garden), I thought I'd give it a go.

I successfully managed to add water to the brown disk in the pack and, lo and behold, it swelled into soil. Enough soil to put into each of the 6 brown pots, one pot for each different type of herb I was about to grow. I then managed to open the seed packets and sprinkle them into the pots. The instructions said to press them under the soil but considering some of the seeds were about a millimetre wide that was impossible and I had to improvise by covering them with a bit more soil.

Result. Done! Just sit back and wait for the herbs to grow...
And they have.

Well...
One pot has.

The only trouble is, because I didn't label any of the pots, I've got no idea what's growing!

Any ideas? I'm fairly certain it's not chives!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I've fallen in love with this song...


p.s. It's called 'Breathe' by Sia

Rewrite

Wow, I just edited the most boring, waffley chapter of my whole book. I cut TONS of words (okay, about 700). What was I thinking when I wrote that chapter? I must have been distracted by something. I just waffled on and on and on and on and on...

And how did I miss it during the last rewrite?

Rewriting that was hard work. It took HOURS and I only managed 3% of the novel (it felt more like 30%). Glad it's over.

Let's hope the last 35% is a bit easier.

52,070 / 80,065 words rewritten (65.0% of novel)

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Brighton Picnic Competition!

Ever been to Brighton? Ever had a picnic here?

Win £100 worth of book tokens. Closing date 30 April.

http://www.picnic-publishing.co.uk/picnic-writing-competition.pdf

The Isle of Man is NOT a country*

Instead of taking the 'how addicted to blogging' quiz (quite frankly I'm afraid to find out!) I decided to take the "How many countries can you name in five minutes" quiz.

But, ehr, it's slightly flawed (see title of this post!).

Anyway, the...

54
p.s. Geography was one of my worst subjects at school so I fully expect to get whooped by you lot!
* Oops. Just googled it and apparently it is. Who knew. Not me that's for sure *blush*

QWF - more of a BOOK than a magazine!


Oh how lovely. My contributor copy of QWF (Quality Women's Fiction) magazine just arrived from the US. And, like American food portions, its huge! Jam packed with stories, including mine. I do love getting magazines and anthologies I've been published in through the post. Am waiting for three more at the moment:
  • Etchings magazine (Australian literary mag)
  • Your Messages anthology (they sold out the print run and didn't have enough left for the people who couldn't make the launch!)
  • Take a Break Fiction Feast (UK women's mag)
Still, something to look forward to.
Reading for the July issue of QWF started on 1st March so send them your best literary fiction featuring a female MC. AND, for this issue only, MEN are also invited to send in stories.... as long as they feature a female MC!
QWF doesn't pay but you do receive a complimentary contributors' copy (and very nice it is too).
Talking of which, because QWF are having money troubles at the moment non US and Canadian subscribers will be receiving their copies via PDF for the foreseeable future. But don't worry if you're thinking about writing for them. You'll still get your print copy.
You can find QWF here: http://www.allwriters.org/qwf.asp

Ever get the feeling...


...you're being watched?

Monday, 3 March 2008

The film version of HoWG

Okay, so I've rewritten another 2% of my novel, read everyone's blog updates, played a couple of games of Scramble again SallyQ on Facebook (god it's addictive) and watched most of the videos on Video Jug. What next?

Day Dream about the film version of HoWG of course!
Here's my cast:

Jeanane Garofalo (she was in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" with Uma Thurman) as "Lucy" (yes, my main character is called Lucy!) . She's a little bit too old but I can't think of a brunette British character actress in her twenties that fits!

Jack Davenport as "Dan" (Again he's a tiny bit too old but hey, I'm not ageist)

Bob Hoskins as "Saint Bob" (perfect!)

Elijah Wood as "Archie" (I just hope he can do a good English accent)

David Thewlis as "Brian"
Honor Blackman as "Mrs Humphreys-Smythe"
And I can't cast "Claire" because I can't think of a single actress in her late teens/early twenties that is a size 16/18 (how sad it that?)

So who would be in the movie of your book?

Chapter hooks (beginnings and endings)

Because I can't be arsed am too tired to do any editing tonight I thought I'd do something a bit different.

I've been thinking about books that are classified as 'page-turners' and what it is about them that propels you through the book.

And something I've realised, by analysing a few best-selling chicklit books, is that most chapters have a compelling hook at the beginning and another one at the end.

What's a hook? An unanswered question, an unusual situation, a dilemma, a revelation - basically anything that gets the reader's attention. It's all very well hooking the reader (or agent!) at the start of your novel but if you want them to keep turning the pages without falling into a coma you need to do the same for each and every chapter.

And when that chapters ends?

You need to give them a reason to move on to the next one.

Let's look at Can You Keep a Secret?by Sophie Kinsella.

Chapter 1 beginning
"Of course I have secrets.

Of course I do. Everyone has secrets. It's completely normal. I'm sure I don't have any more than anyone else."

Hook: What are her secrets? I have secrets too. Are her secrets abnormal? Has she got more than me? What are they?

Chapter 1 end
"His voice is dry and has an American accent. I'm about to ask him politely where he's from, but he immediately turns back and stares out of the window again.

Which is fine, because to be honest, I'm not much in the mood for talking either."

Hook: Who is the man sitting next her? Is she going to try talking to him again?

Chapter 2 beginning
"OK. The truth is, I don't like this.

I know it's business class, I know it's all lovely luxury. But my stomach is still a tight knot of fear."

Hook: Is the main character going to survive the flight? Is something going to happen? Is she going to freak out and do something weird?

Chapter 2 ending
"I'd love to move in with you, Connor," I whisper, and to my utter astonishment, burst into tears.

Hook: She's just agreed to move in with someone she's not sure she's in love with. Why did she burst into tears? How's he going to react to the fact she's just burst into tears? What's going to happen next?

And so on and so forth. Of course not all the chapters start with a hugely compelling opening line. The questions/dilemmas/mysteries the author has raised within each of the chapters should propel the reader onwards, desperate to find out the answers, but too many dull, unimaginative chapter openings and their attention is going to start to wane.

But you get the idea.

What I found interesting when I analysed my chapter openings and endings is how dull the ones I haven't rewritten yet are. Out of the 10 chapter (or so) I've got to rewrite 4 of them open with the main character waking up and one of them starts with a comment about the weather.

How boring!

Cut, cut, cut and start with the action. Give the reader a reason to read on.

On the plus side the ones I've already re-written are tons better (which is a relief).

Hmmm...maybe I'll do a bit more rewriting tonight after all.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

p.s.

Want to spend HOURS watching videos about writing instead of doing any actual writing?

Go here: http://www.videojug.com/tag/writing-and-publishing

Some of the Jonny Geller ones I've linked to before but there's some good stuff there. Nothing about rewriting unfortunately but...

Rewrite

By each of the dates listed below I need to have rewritten that amount of words in order to complete the rewrite within 3 months of NiceMrAgent's phone call. So...

2nd March - 54% of novel should be rewritten
9th March - 61.7% of novel should be rewritten
16th March - 69.4% of novel should be rewritten
23rd March - 77.1% of novel should be rewritten
30 March - 84.8% of novel should be rewritten
6th April - 92.6% of novel should be rewritten
13th April - 100% (okay, so it'll be 3 months and 3 days altogether!)

Anyway...

As of today I'm ahead of schedule!

60.8% rewritten and I'm just about to start Chapter 29 of 38 (it doesn't sound like too much more work written like that!)

And I got some more glossing done too.

I think I actually deserve this award that Karen gave me


And I'm going to pass it on to JJ because she doesn't seem to stop! :o)

And now I'm going to have a nice, cold G 'n T and watch some TV (and find out who was kicked off Dancing on Ice. I was so busy writing I forgot to watch the results show. Doh)

49,208 / 80,889 words rewriten (60.8% of novel)

I've Moved!

So, I've moved my blog from the one with my name in the blog address to this one - http://writing-about-writing.blogspot.com

I've felt slightly uncomfortable about how googleable I am for the last few months (for various reasons) and decided today that I didn't want my blog to have my name in the address.

So here we are. Same blog, same name "Writing About Writing" but without my name in the title.

Normal service will be resumed soon!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

MWah!


Sarah Dunnakey gave me a mwah! for top blogging. Thank you so much. I'm seriously tempted to create my own award to pass on to see how far around the blogasphere it gets. I'm a bit nifty with Photoshop so can create anything within reason (can't do 3D though).
Anyone got any ideas what I could/should create and we can get the ball rolling!
In the meantime I'm going to Mwah! Hesitant Scribe for being so inspirational, SallyQ because I know she's going through a bit of a tough time at the moment and L-Plate for kicking my arse at the novel rewrite 'race' (she's on 63% at the moment to my paltry 55%!)