Friday, 3 December 2010

A little too predictable

I’ve been home alone a lot recently – and consequently, I’ve been doing a lot more reading that I would normally get away with. Which has obviously been great, except for one thing: I seem to unravel the plot within a few chapters – which just leaves me with the text to read. This has also been happening with films and television programmes – something that I’m actually finding quite annoying.

Anyone else have this problem?

I’m wondering if this is a common complaint that afflicts those who spend most of their days devising plotlines on scraps of paper or making notes via mobile phone while walking the dog? If anyone has any recommendations for a novel that is sure to confound me, I’d love to hear it because I’m really starting to miss that sense of anticipation!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Copyright Day

Any regular visitor to Jane Smith’s website – How Publishing Works – will be familiar with the Cooks Source furore and the fact that Jane suggested November 19 be dedicated to the subject of copyright.

Throughout the week, I’ve been thinking up all sorts of things to write – not least a good rant in response to the recent statements by Cooks Source editor Judith Griggs, which I have to admit have riled me good and proper in recent weeks.

However, after reading Nicola Morgan’s blog entry at Help! I Need a Publisher this morning, I realised making this a personal issue on my blog would be a waste of cyberspace. After all, we all know that this editor and her publication were in the wrong – that much is irrefutable. And as Nicola points out, education seems to be a better – and far more constructive – way to mark the occasion.

As a journalist, I have been on the receiving end of this type of copyright infringement – and downright plagiarism, in fact – many times. I cannot describe the feeling you get when you’ve gone the extra mile to seek out those all-important (and exclusive) quotes that will really make a story and then see all your efforts appearing under somebody else’s byline.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are different things, of course – but in the end it all boils down to having respect for an author’s hard work. I would urge anyone unsure of the rules to read Nicola’s very useful post so that instances like this can be avoided in future. 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Day – and night – jobs…

If there’s one thing that I hate about being a freelance journalist – it’s pitching ideas. You work on polishing a punchy letter… outline what you hope is a corker of a story…  click ‘send’… and then, very often, never hear back from the publication in question.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have regular clients – and believe me, they are a rare commodity in this recession-hit age when magazines are closing left, right and centre – it seems you don’t even warrant the courtesy of a response.

Sound familiar?

It hit me today that I really must be a glutton for punishment. Not content with enduring such treatment in my day job – I’m planning to put myself through the same ringer with literary agents too!

But then I thought this: pitching – whether it be in the form of a feature proposal or your manuscript – is essentially much the same thing. You’re selling yourself and your idea in both.

So I’m now telling myself that writing pitches in whatever form is invaluable experience – rather than a chore. No, I’m not convinced either…

Monday, 1 November 2010

Revisions, revisions...

Having given myself a stern talking to and knuckled back down to the day job, it’s been a struggle to get around to anything other than writing fiction in my spare time – so apologies for not making any posts of late. I consider that to be pretty bad form, so aim to make up for it this month!

I’m working on what I hope are the final revisions of my MS – although chances are I’m not even close. I read somewhere recently that an author will spend at least the same amount of time revising their book as they will writing it… something that actually made me feel a bit better about mine, because the constant polishing feels like it’s taking forever. 

Strangely enough, while I’m really looking forward to turning my attention to a different story, I’m not sick of my characters. If anything, their motivations are becoming increasingly clearer to me – which I’m taking as a good sign. 

Hopefully, my constant tweaking will make the finished product stronger, but I’d love to hear any tips from you all about how you tackle this stage of the process. For instance, is there such a thing as too much tinkering? 

It occurred to me that much like self-diagnosis of a minor ailment, too much attention to the details could   easily diminish what would otherwise be a good story. It suddenly feels as though I'm walking a very thin line... 

Best regards,

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Vanity – or common sense?

A friend of mine emailed me a story over the weekend – which detailed a new Kindle ereader scheme that would offer authors an online platform for their work in exchange for a 30 percent share of the profits. All a writer had to do was send in a completed manuscript, set the price – and voila – they would be in business…

I immediately sent him a note back – a regretful one, I might add – stating that to my knowledge this type of self-publishing was classed as ‘vanity’ by the conventional publishing industry, and was therefore the kiss of death to any author hoping to make a name for themselves.

But then I got to thinking…

Could this actually be the perfect opportunity to establish a profile that would ultimately attract a publisher or agent? Okay, the odds of it would be fairly small, but consider this: US singer Mike Posner made his name by uploading his music to MySpace… something that didn’t stop a music company engaging his services when his popularity became apparent.

I thought this would be a great topic for discussion – so am looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I’d love to hear from anyone who has gone down, or is considering, this route. 

Best regards, 

Monday, 4 October 2010

Serendipity & Co…

Without wishing to direct you away from this blog (no, please come back!!!) there’s a great story by Anne Rooney on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure that I think you’ll enjoy – if you haven’t come across it already that is. Click here to read... I think you’ll agree that it was a great use of hot pink during a time of frustration!

Anne’s story is a corker in itself but it got me thinking about those little details and coincidences that writers are always looking for. Since I seriously set about coming up with book ideas and storytelling, I’ve been amazed at how much inspiration there is in many of the everyday events I happen to witness and the people I meet. As a journalist I am required to concentrate on newsworthiness – and depending on the publication I am working for, it can be a challenge. When it comes to writing fiction, however, I am suddenly at liberty to draw on all those quirky characteristics and situations I come across and use them as I see fit! Writing aside, I think that’s why I love the creative side of this industry so much. I may not know what it feels like to be a published author, but there’s no doubt that I’m already looking at life through an entirely different lens.

Best regards,

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Should you complete a manuscript before submitting?

Faye asked a question yesterday that I thought was definitely worthy of its own thread...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

NV feedback and discussion

Please make all new posts on this subject via the link in the top right-hand corner!!!

Write what you know

Next to the reminder to 'show' rather than 'tell', it's probably the phrase that I've read most often in how-to books and on websites. I don't think there can be any question that writing about the subjects and situations you are familiar with enables your pen to move far more smoothly across the page - I can say that is certainly the case in journalism as well - but I was wondering how you get to this stage of comfort when you're writing for the historical or supernatural genres, for example?

Is it simply down to including a level of detail that leaves a reader in no doubt that you clearly know your subject matter inside out? Or is it all about your own level of confidence? After all, with situations that we're familiar with, we tend to know when less is more... Does the same apply here?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions!


The first post...

Hi there,
It's taken me a few years to get my head around the concept of blogging - having always thought that it would require me to share the more mundane aspects of my life with a yawning readership. That was before I seriously began to pursue the idea of writing a novel and getting it published. As a journalist, writing has always been a major part of my day - it's my bread and butter, after all - but now, I'm having to learn the rules that apply in a whole new sphere.

I very much feel as though I've gone back to basics in a field that's crammed with talent and that all-important lucky break. So now, in between those features which ground me the real world, I spend my time writing cover letters to perspective agents, polishing my first completed manuscript and trying my hand at any other forms of writing that will help me achieve my goal of becoming a full-time author.

Most days it feels as though I'm leaving uni and applying for that first job all over again - with all the angst that comes with wondering whether you're really going to achieve what you've set out to do. As someone who already earns their living via the written word I can't imagine how daunting it must be for an aspiring author from a completely different industry.

A recent foray into the world of competition really brought it home to me that there are a lot of us out there! It also generated some great feedback for a chapter that I had submitted - which illustrated to me just how valuable these discussions with other writers (published or otherwise) can be.

The aim of this blog is to discuss anything and everything about fiction-writing. So, regardless of whether you're keen to discuss PoV, the difference between show and tell or simply want some advice on a particular niggle, I hope you'll take the time to post it here. :o)

Good luck with your submissions!