How much I enjoy the slog of the novel. Apart from the occasional OCD panic, it's wonderful to have something everyday on the stocks to go and tinker with. And, I've started to write short stories, too, to give myself the sense of 'having finished' - something not easily achieved with a novel.
Of course, part of this delight derives from not having a deadline - inspite of the efforts of family and friends to provide me with them. At the moment, I feel that a deadline would not serve my best work. But I am also aware that without deadlines - nature could expand to fill the vacuum and I could still be tinkering in five years time. So, I have set my own deadline. This draft will be off to an editor by Easter.
I can also feel the next novel bubbling up, hoping to be written.
Saturday, 21 March 2015
Monday, 23 February 2015
And there was I thinking it was all downhill from Christmas!
Let me explain. Before Christmas, i was on Draft 3 of my current Work-in-progress. Against all odds, it seemed, I bundled it onto the airwaves on the 19th and wished my Beta Readers a Happy Christmas. Then, while I was dining out on my sense of achievement, they toiled away reading and note-taking until the New Year. They were positive in their approach and generous with their praise but I now have to consider six sets of suggestions and work my way through Draft 4. Someone said, a novel isn't finished till you have re-written 8 times. Only four more to go, then.
But the good news is there is less to do each time. And, if you are not totally discouraged by your Beta readers, the experience of placing your work of art before an independent audience gives you confidence. You also gain confidence from defending your idea and concept against the challenge.
So, if you believe in what you are doing, persist.
Sunday, 4 January 2015
Trust - on all sorts of levels - is a key element in the relationship between reader and writer and authorial consistency is essential for this. For example, if you have your hero aged 27 on page 11 and aged 29 on page 12, readers can't read on for the alarm bells ringing in their heads. They are suddenly concerned that you don't know much about your own characters. Similarly with memoir - you can't have people dying inconsistently. So attention to detail is vital. But how do you keep track of all that detail - birthdates, exams, Halloween, dances, travel days, significant periods. For example, you may need to make a note of how long it takes to hand-stitch a dress.
A few practical tools will help. You will by now be familiar with the uses to which a novelist can put notebooks, folders, wallets and sticky notes. Pinboards can provide inspirational wall-decoration festooned with visual aids such as photos (cut out of magazines or withdrawn from family albums) which may suggest the physical attributes of hero and heroine. Or you can pin-up maps, town plans, street plans or room plans - if they'll help you visualise where your hero is and how he moves around the space. You will also gather around you a reference library of everything from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to Roget's Thesaurus.
But don't neglect the potential of the Spreadsheet - computer-based or otherwise. This can help you with:
· Timeline - what happens and when in your story. Check for feasibility.
· Chapter designation - reflecting the story arc, clarifying what's important for you in it.
· Word Count - totting up the totals (Have you written a novel? A blockbuster or a novella . . ?)
· A note on the Point of View character for each chapter. (Avoid unnecessary head-hopping.)
· Locations - a list of settings (also indicating areas of required research).
So, as you see, you may find you are using far more than pen and paper or a computer to help you to write a book