Friday, 29 March 2013

THE BLACK PEN AND THE HIGHLIGHTER.



I sat at my desk, primed and  ready to take the next step on the road to completing my first novel - the read through of my first completed draft. I was very organized. In front of me lay two folders – one for Strand A, one for Strand B - two sets of index cards, a black pen (I decided against the red – I didn’t want to depress myself too much) and a yellow highlighter.

          I had decided to use a few key words to note the changes I wanted – expand, rework or my favourite UAW.  UAW = use another word and is my own code for when I don’t like the word currently in place or I notice I’ve repeated a word too many times – and if I see another sentence that says ‘he/she/they seemed...I’ll scream! 

         My intention was to address issues as I went along but I was primarily interested in gaining a sense of how each strand hangs together as a whole. Other questions I had were about characters, mood, and finding out what were the plot weaknesses and inconsistencies.
       
         And so it was, with no small amount of trepidation, that I started to read strand A.

         What I’ve found - apart from the fact that reading and noting the mistakes is way easier than correcting them – is that punctuation and grammar seem (you see, there’s that word creeping into my blog as well) okay but there are a quite a number of places where I need to either tighten up the sentence structure or expand it to clarify what I’m saying. The pace of the story, in both strands, seems (wow, I just can’t stop using that word) fairly fast and I need to make sure I allow both readers and characters the space to breathe along the way before galloping towards the climax and conclusion as I dislike a story that has no rhythm and drags you relentlessly towards the end.

         I found one character who definitely needs some upgrading. He is vital to the story and he’s meant to be interesting but the truth is I've not given him the TLC he really needs. And it shows; he’s far too nice and therefore, boring.

          I used the highlighter for noting plot inconsistencies such as when a character expects his children to return that afternoon – er, well, no, he shouldn’t – they returned 2 chapters ago. Didn’t he notice? I thought I had picked up and sorted all the issues in this area, but it’s interesting to note that some escaped what I thought was my previously eagle eye. Let’s hope I found the last offenders.

       So, it’s with a sigh of satisfaction, and a real sense of progress, that I put aside my piles of white paper which are now covered with black scribbles and yellow marks. Trying to create something, working at it and not being satisfied till you have achieved the best you can, is both painstaking and deeply satisfying.

        On Monday, I’ll begin rewriting.



COFFEE SHOP HAIKU
The conversation
is punctuated by her
laughter and his texts.


Thank you for reading my blog - I hope you enjoy the journey too.

A really great  read is  Roads Taken by M. Joaquim at the Kindle Store.  Here's the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/  Check it out!

 ROADS TAKEN: Short Stories

I'm going to rotate the links to other writers I find helpful. One newsletter I subscribe to, where there are plenty of good tips and information, is:
http://www.urbanwritersretreat.co.uk/ 

And I found Mark Coker's no nonsense, gives you the truth about publishing, blog really informative. 
http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/03/six-tips-to-read-reader-tea-leaves-how.htm

Another valuable book is How Fiction Works by James Wood which has lots of insights to help you with your writing. 

For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.
 


Monday, 25 March 2013

BLOGGING AND THE BACK BURNER.




A friend’s 13 year old son asked me if my book was out yet. When I told him no, but that I was now blogging, his face lit up. ‘Wow!’ I could see I’d risen by some degrees in his estimation: I was impressed that he was impressed.

       After almost a whole two months, I think I can officially say I’m a blogger! Yet it still feels like I’m shuffling along a corridor in the dark with my hands stuck out in front of me so I don’t smack into something.

       So what exactly is this blogging? Is it a diary? Is it about giving information and educating people? Is it a rant? Is it a strategic marketing and PR game? Is it an opportunity to get feedback?  Or the chance to display your writing skills by offering freebies to attract readers? Is it a love me, love me cry?  I think it’s all of the above and more.

         Entropy ensures that if you do nothing, you deteriorate. In fact, you actually have to work quite hard to stand still. It’s therefore in your own interest to acquire new skills. So, yes, blogging can be a fresh challenge where you’re writing in a more journalistic, conversational mode instead of poring over any number of literary aspects in your other writing, whether that be poetry, prose or non-fiction. So, I’m going to keep blogging even if the route, let alone the destination, isn’t crystal clear.

I’ve printed out the first draft of my novel. The pile of crisp white pages sits neatly aligned in the centre of my desk. It’s been there for two days. And for two days I’ve ignored it, leaving it on the back burner. I find that stepping away from a piece of work, even for a short while, helps me to come at it with a sharper, more detached, eye. What happens is that you’re using a work – rest pattern that activates your subconscious mind. Everything has a rhythm and putting a piece of work on the back burner doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. 

I’m sure I’ll feel different once the read through is finished, and those pages are covered in scribbled notes, but right now there is a sense of  achievement as I pass another milestone on this journey. 

I think you simply have to keep writing, pushing on, putting in the time, if you want to achieve your goal.  So, please, wish me luck as I sit down this morning, red pen and highlighter to hand, to begin the next stage of this fascinating venture.



Today’s Haiku


SNOWDROPS

A crowd of snowdrops
tremble, shaking their heads in
gusts of chill March wind.
 
And I haven’t been idle, I’ve been editing haikus for the upcoming Haikus Galore which will appear on Amazon in April (date tbc).

I'm going to rotate the links to other writers I find helpful and I hope you will too. One newsletter I subscribe to, and ere there are plenty of good tips and information, is:
http://www.urbanwritersretreat.co.uk/ 

And I found Mark Coker's no nonsense blog which gives you the truth about publishing really informative. 
http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/03/six-tips-to-read-reader-tea-leaves-how.htm

Another valuable book is How Fiction Works by James Wood which has lots of insights to help you with your writing. 


For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.

 













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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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