Friday, 29 January 2010

Building Character

I'm generally quite down on people who see writing as some kind of magical spiritual journey - it's more like digging the Channel Tunnel with a teaspoon a lot of the time. But if there is a magical aspect of writing - a part that I can't wholly rationalise - it's the creation and maintenance of characters. To breathe life into these people and see them wander around the page spouting smart-mouthed dialogue is a pleasure I rarely tire of.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Just Like Grammar Used to Make

I'm guessing that the majority of us writers use Microsoft Word (although I'm still flying the flag for longhand first drafts) and that we've all tussled with the Grammar Checker from time to time. For many years, I just turned it off, traumatised by the biblical plague of green snakes that wriggled across my page. In recent years, as writing well has become a religion, I've allowed it back into my life. For all of its many reasonable suggestions, it always feels like an ultra-strict schoolmarm, constantly rapping me across the knuckles for such heinous crimes as "Wordiness" and "Fragment (consider revising)". Wouldn't it be great if they added a mode that could congratulate you when you get something right, with statements like "Superlative imagery in that sentence" or "Groovy verb use, man."

Monday, 18 January 2010

Read All About It

It's finally arrived, the week that Undiscovered Voices 2010 gets sent out to agents and editors, and I'll admit to a certain amount of trepidation as to how the whole thing will play out. This is my first experience of having anything published and my first encounter with that strange and mystical species known as The Reader. Ironically, the one kind of reader I probably won't get is any actual children - instead it will be a somewhat scary bunch of Important Industry People.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Life. Work. Writing. Whatever.

As is so often the case on a Monday, I am writing this while listening to an extremely boring conference call. "But!" I hear you cry, "If you can concentrate enough to write this, why can't you do some real work instead?" This is a valid question, and one that I'm going to sidestep by thinking about the increasingly permeable boundaries between my work, my home life and my hobbies.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Finding the Plot

Ok, this is my first post since Christmas so excuse me if it gets a bit ... disjointed. I've spent the intervening period furiously trying to pin down the plot of Back from the Dead, which seemed to be turning into a never-ending task. I'd set myself a target of today (4th Jan) to complete the design of the next draft, with the hope of incorporating all of the suggestions that the agent had for improving the book. As anyone who has had this sort of feedback knows, it can range from very specific to frustratingly vague. Luckily, the feedback I had was pretty specific, but it didn't stop me submitting a disastrous six chapter rewrite just before Christmas that completely missed the point. And even specific feedback leaves you with a whole bucketful of "how the hell do I make that happen?" kind of questions.