Sunday, 28 March 2010

Hey! That could work...

I've pretty much given up on Authonomy - the corrupt chart, the ridiculous state of the talent-spotter rankings, the loudmouths on the forum, but last week I got a comment there on Heart of Rock that I enjoyed. Teric Darken said:

I just want you to know that I have a vintage concert t-shirt of The Voices, and the very picture of Ric Kealey that you described (in chapter two) is emblazoned on the back, along with Bryan Orr and the other members!

Once I'd stopped laughing I thought, hey, that's a great idea - I could use it to promote the book! My mind ran on with researching rock promo tee shirts, where to find a charismatic stand-in for Ric for the shot, how many to print...then I remembered none of this would be necessary until I got a publishing deal.


I'm just off to press on with the submissions.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Paragraph posting game

For all the writers who read my blog, this is one for you.

Today I want you to post two paragraphs from your latest book in my comments section, and this is how you select them. Using your birthday, take the month chapter and the day paragraph, then the day chapter and the month paragraph.

Example: my birthday's February 26th, so I picked Chapter 2, paragraph 26, and Chapter 26, paragraph 2 from Heart of Rock. If your chapter is too short, as mine was, run on to the next.

And NO CHEATING! If the paragraph is two words, so be it. If it's a dud passage, now is your opportunity to rewrite it.

Here are my two:

1. I considered the implications of this. I had spent the morning alone with a man the police believed guilty of murder. He hadn’t seemed like a murderer to me, but then murderers, when not actually murdering people, probably did act as normally as anyone else. Feeling hunger, needing a pee, befriending stray dogs.

2. I laid my wrecking bar against the wall. There wasn’t anything about the way he held the weapon that suggested he didn’t know how to use it. It was beautiful, gleaming walnut and engraved steel, the toy of a rich man who indulged himself in country pursuits, golf, fishing, pheasant shooting. No doubt he had a licence for it, and a locked cabinet to keep it in, all above board and within the law. I could see the long polished barrels, because they were aimed at Ric, not me. Bullets or shot, I had no idea, but felt sure at that range whatever it was would make a nasty hole.

(These extracts make my novel sound much more crime-thrillerish than it actually is.)


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Close the book and try the next...

When browsing in a book shop, what makes you shove the book back, with undue force, whence it came? I've made a list:

  • Any book starting in the mind of a crazed psychopath as he watches his next, invariably young and female, victim. I have no desire to find out what happens next. I know I won't like it.

  • Misery memoirs. I read for pleasure.

  • Fiction written in the present tense. Just annoying.

  • Anything in which vampires or werewolves form a council. Although these councils might at least collect the bins on time, unlike the one in my area. (Thank you for that one, Steve Jensen.)

  • Any novel which starts with a description of ‘the boy’, ‘the man’ or ‘the woman’, as in ‘The boy, his feet scarring the pristine sand, wandered along the deserted stretch of shore’. For Pete’s sake, tell us his name! You’re going to have to eventually, why not straight away?

  • Books about circuses, which are curiously devoid of any real circus acts, leading me to suspect the writer has never been to a circus in his life.

  • Novels with a young, affluent, able-bodied male narrator, who does nothing but whinge in a supposedly amusing fashion about a) having to go to work and b) not getting enough sex. I am meant to sympathize, and I do not. Not even a little bit.

  • Fantasy involving elves, or anything colourably similar, such as leprechauns or fairies. Or faeries, faes, pixies and what I have just seen described as other wee folk. No, no!

What about yours?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Moving on to the next book

I suspect it's the same for all writers - you've written the last chapter, revised the novel, got advice from trusted beta readers, tweaked and polished, until it's the best you can do. It's finished; now is the time to move on to the next book. But you don't want to. You want to stick around with those characters you have grown to love - even the nasty ones. They're closer to you than anyone real, and you can't bear to let them go.

Of course, you can side-step the issue by writing the sequel - but if you haven't yet sold the first novel, this is a Seriously Bad Idea. You could waste a year writing a book whose fate is inextricably tied to the first book, and may sink with it. It's time for something completely different. Which is what I started doing today.

I got the germ of the idea for Untitled on the long cold walks between home and workshop I've been doing since I fractured my humerus, and can't ride my bike. I brooded about how my broken bone had diverted, I hope briefly, the course of my life; I noticed all the useful stuff Londoners throw out; and I trespassed inside an unfinished, abandoned and vandalized block of flats on my way home.

I've been typing notes for a couple of weeks, but today I began writing a scene a few chapters in where my heroine meets a man who will play a large part in the plot, and I think the transition has been made. I'm beginning to find my new characters as absorbing as the ones I've regretfully left behind in Heart of Rock.