Monday, 14 November 2011

When the gab is not a gift

I'm currently in my favourite part of novel writing. It's the part where the story starts to work by itself, and new little tendrils of storyline sprout in unexpected directions when I'm in the shower, going to sleep, or out for a walk.

The words are pouring out, and my characters suddenly have a lot to say to each other. The problem is, I've just looked down at a page and realised that my characters have done nothing but talk for ages. Talk, talk, talk.

Ok, so there's the odd smile, the odd nod, the odd looking out of the window and thinking about stuff, but pretty much nothing is happening except the characters discussing things.

So how much talk is too much?

A quick google led me to this very useful blog, which led to a few others:

It seems I need to do the following:
- Get rid of any part of the conversation that is every day or commonplace (do you want a cup of tea? Why yes, thank you. Lovely weather, isn't it?)
- Use narration to connect scenes
- Add gestures, tones, thoughts to break up the dialogue, every three to five lines or so
- Use dialogue only for conflict, not for exposition. (I found this one tricky - you shouldn't use narration for exposition either, the old 'show don't tell' how do you get exposition across? I guess the answer is, you don't. You let the reader work it out. Sounds brilliant, in theory at least).

So, here I go. Out comes the red pen.

Friday, 11 November 2011

New writing business cards

I thought I'd invest in myself and get some business cards specifically for writing printed.

Well, today they arrived, and they're utterly gorgeous! I spent a little more than I should and got them printed with Moo, who always do a fabulous job. I chose a design that looks like little note books and they are oh, so lovely.

Now I just can't wait for the RNA Winter Party next Thursday, so I can distribute them to all and sundry.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A tenth of the way...

I've been writing my new book for the past few weeks, and it's finally starting to get somewhere. I've hit 10,000 words, which I'm telling myself is a tenth of the way. Nine-tenths to go, with the intention of finishing my first draft by 1 April 2012.

I'm taking a whole new approach to writing, and it's proving to be a worthwhile experience.

With my first two novels, I thought of a concept. For example, for my last novel I thought of the impact of a grandmother dying and leaving last wishes for her two granddaughters to broaden their horizons in very specific ways. Then, I pretty much started writing. The plot points came out as the story did, new characters emerged (sometimes unexpectedly), and even the endings were somewhat of a surprise to me.

With this novel, I'm trying to be much more strategic. An agent is only going to see the first three chapters, so I can't waste time getting the story started. I wrote a full synopsis, and then decided to start the story about a third of the way into my synopsis. With each chapter, I'm writing key points that the chapter needs to achieve. Once those points have been achieved, the chapter is over.

I think it's working, but only time - and eventually some feedback from others - will tell whether this book will go anywhere. Despite the strategic approach, this is a story I've long wanted to tell, and my heart is going into each (carefully constructed) sentence.