Thursday, 29 March 2012

Amazing Writing Advice #10: Editing

I know, I know, editing is for losers. 99% of the time you can bang out a 140,000 word manuscript in a couple of days and that manuscript will be good enough to be published. You should just spang it off to your editor of choice and phone up moments later demanding it gets published before Christmas. That's the only language these people understand.

But sometimes you'll pick up a subtle signal, maybe a couple of editors will have taken restraining orders out on you, this'll tell you something is up. You need to smooth a rough edge of your work. Because an editor will take any excuse to reject your work, that's how riddled with hate-for-talent they are.

So you sit down to review your work. But how?

Firstly you need to think of words as how they are. Editors and poshos will tell you words have funny names like verbs and nouns and adjectives...etc. This is just to confuse you. Words can be divided into three types:

  1. Thingy words - the names of things
  2. Doing words - words for something happening.
  3. Words of Power - all other words (called Words of Power as it sounds cool).
I have the Words of Power!
So with Thingy words you should try to come up with slightly better names. No one wants a hero called Mark. It's a rubbish name, call him Devron or Chase or Zac. These names are cool. If it's a scfi or fantasy book remember to add some random apostrophes and colons, maybe an @ sign as well if it's scifi. So for example D'evron: or C'h'a's'e or Z@c.

Real places just call them what they are, if you want extra tension add 'of doom' to the end. The library of doom, the park of doom. See, instant tension.

Doing words are the most important words, they should be replaced with much longer words that mean roughly the same thing. Also try to use some really archaic words, especially if it is a bit of a flowery book about feelings with lots of meaningful silences.

For the Words of Power add loads more, they have the power!

This will make your work indestructible when faced with the editor of doom.



P.S. If you attended the Amazing Writing Advice Residential you will shortly be hearing from my lawyers. Hopefully we can avoid any further unpleasantness.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Up on the Roof

So it's March and Summer must be here in the UK. Then again it'll probably snow next week, so while it's shining make hay. Or sit somewhere sunny. I've been sitting on my roof. What's this got to do with writing? Nothing. But there you have it. Here's a picture of the roof 'garden' I've created.

Not a bad place to read and edit.

Though I didn't half crack my head on the window climbing out there this morning...



Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Thirst

There is a place adults have forgotten. A place they leave behind in childhood, a place of terror from which the creatures come. Nameless horrors only hinted at in half forgotten fairy tales told by aged grandparents. Every child comes across these creatures. Most get just a glimpse; a shadow in a mirror; a shiver on dark stairs. But some of us face them several times. Some of us don’t just get a glimpse but have the horror wash over us like a tidal wave. Some of us go looking for them.

The first time for me was summer a few years back. The days had been hot and endless until the fog rolled in, thick and yellow, I watched it from the lounge window with my dad.

“I’ve never seen fog like it,” he said.

“Pollution,” Mum said from the sofa.

The fog enclosed our house so I could no longer see the end of the garden. It brought silence, no more birds singing or the shouts from kids down the road.

“Time for bed,” Dad said placing a hand around my shoulder. Summer days felt strange, going to bed while the sun still blazed. But the fog brought a yellowy twilight with it.

My room was stuffy, the air felt like swallowing socks as I breathed. I cracked the window open hoping for a cool breeze and climbed into bed. Despite the heat I pulled the duvet over my head, making it dark enough to need a torch to read. Sometimes tradition is important.

I’ve forgotten the book; I just remember that it gripped me. I was so lost in it that it was a while before I noticed a noise. I lifted my head but there was silence.

I turned the page. I heard it again and shivered, like I do now just thinking about it. A baby wailing out in the fog.

I pushed the duvet off and climbed out of bed.

The wailing continued.

I pulled the curtain aside and looked down onto the garden. The fog hung thick and yellow, darkening as the sun dipped. At the far end of the garden stood a figure, a girl I think, though it was hard to tell. In her arms she held the baby. I couldn’t see it clearly but I knew it was the wailing baby and I knew the girl was looking up at me.

She placed the baby on to the grass and stepped back, disappearing into the fog.

The baby wailed. I needed to go to it. I wondered why Mum and Dad hadn’t fetched it, I could hear the murmur of the TV below. Maybe they couldn’t hear the baby over it.

It’s screeching cut through me and I turned, pushed my feet into my shoes and headed for the door.

The wailing stopped. I turned back to the window. The fog swirled and lifted. I could see the garden.

No baby.
No girl.
No wail.

I stood, confused, wondering then climbed back into bed.

The following day I heard Josh from next door had gone missing. His younger sister said he’d gone to get the wailing baby.

His parents had heard nothing.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Amazing Writing Advice: The Residential!!!

Finally you can get what you've always wanted; a long weekend with me, learning direct from the master, over some of Lidl's finest wines, whiskies and pork scratchings. The residential course is for up to twenty people, hosted in my studio flat overlooking what used to be a stream in Slough.

The residential starts on Friday night with a relaxed BABATA (bring-a-bottle-and-take-away) session so we can all get to know each other. No pizzas or soft drinks, all wine must be 14% or over.

The Saturday morning session is 'Dig to Plot Victory' where we get to plot on my plot! I'll explain the best ways to plot a book while you dig my allotment. Refreshments of squash and carrots will be provided.

Lunch at King Kebab. Vegetarians and dog lovers should make their own arrangements.
Put your back into it!

Saturday evening is a character session in the Three Tins pub. Pick a local and build a story around him. Pints mandatory, stab proof vests optional but recommended.

Saturday Night recreational trip to Bongos Wine Bar.

Sunday Morning 'Utilising Experience on the Page'. I'll write a short paragraph capturing the torment of a hangover.
4 of your 5 a day

Sunday lunch, Frazzles and Star Trek.

Sunday Afternoon "Voice, finding and keeping it" I'll talk about how to make sure you don't lose your voice once you start visiting those libraries, schools, festivals, nunneries.

Sunday night - gifts and departure. Upon receipt of a suitable gift and review I'll return your car keys.

£1990, non refundable. Bring a sleeping bag, the shed gets drafty. Book early to avoid disappointment!