Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How to Be Funny by Wendy Meddour

 Wendy Meddour's got an article in the Guardian, top tips for writing funny books. It might be in the kids section but I think everyone can take something from it. Particularly the bit about sheds.

I've got a crick in my neck so that's all you're getting. Go on, get lost. I don't want you cluttering up my stats page. Go write something or stroke a kitten or skin a kitten.



P.S. I'm going to Hay this weekend (clang!) so I might have something interesting next week.

The Hay Festival: CRAZY!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Amazing Writing Advice #21: How Many Manuscripts Will an Agent Accept from the Slush Pile?

How Many manuscripts will an agent accept? In a year? In a month? In a day? Some agents will tell you that it all depends on what they actually get. They might accept three in a row or none in a hundred submissions.

But, not that long ago, I met an agent I know for lunch. She's a really good agent, so good that she asks people to pay her to read their work. After a bottle of vodka and some frazzles she revealed to me the five steps agents use to 'work' the slush pile.

Step One
Submissions are divided between the sexes at roughly 90% from females to 10% males. This is clearly sexist so she bins the majority of the ones from girls.

Step Two
Eats all the chocolates included in the submissions. Sometimes, if it's been a tough week, she'll get the chocolates out of the ones in the bin.

Step Three
Delete all the email submissions. No chocolates, no representation.

Step Four
Read the extract and act out the scenes with some ewok figures. If it works with ewoks it might just be good enough.
Your cast

Step Five
Make sure the cheque has cleared. This is what all the waiting around is about. If it does and the extract passed the ewok test then ask for the full manuscript and a larger cheque. Then prepare the Yoda and the droid figures...

So there you go, get filling in those cheques (and acting out the opening of your book with ewoks).



Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Dark Thoughts

+++Project Babylon+++

+++ Artifact recovered, 12-34-4001+++

+++Recovered from orbit around 12th planet. Outer structure heavily damaged. Inside contained various
technology not of our origin. Included in this, several encodings of the below transcript via different storage methods and languages, not all of which we were able to translate. Those that we did translate all resulted in approximately the below transcription. Some parts remain untranslatable.+++

Where to begin? How to describe this desperate effort, this one last gamble? We’re too late to help ourselves but maybe whoever finds this will have the time to find a solution. The solution we couldn't  But before the solution I need to describe the problem.

Back in +++untranslatable+++ , our greatest astrophysicists were intrigued by the missing mass in the universe. We expended vast resources researching where the mass was hidden, coming up with the theory of Dark Matter; matter that could only be seen from its gravitational effects.

Through hard work and ingenuity our astrophysicists created experiments that hinted at Dark Matter but we still hadn’t discovered the conclusive answer. A great experiment was designed to reach an answer. A new module was created for our most valuable space station and used our own planet’s gravity well to conduct the experiment.

During the final stages of setting up this experiment there was one dissenting voice, +++untranslatable+++, calling for the experiment to be abandoned. She was ridiculed and ignored.

The experiment discovered that massive amounts of Dark Matter were forming around our own planet. We were left with the question, where did it come from? We analysed the data further, and discovered that it was being created at an increasing rate.

The Dark Matter started to affect our solar system, threatening our existence. Our people, for the first time in our known history pulled together, uniting experts from all scientific spheres to address the problem. At the meeting the rate of growth of Dark Matter increased massively. No one found an answer; no one except that one dissenting voice.

We were creating the Dark Matter. It was the physical embodiment of our thought. The more we thought the more Dark Matter developed around our world. The very conference we’d created to remove the danger only increased it, sending our world off orbit spiralling towards the sun.

Panic ensued. We needed more time. But to gain more time we’d need less thought. Some governments turned to extreme measures; genocide of their neighbours. A few of us tried to come up with an answer. We realised that the Dark Matter we’d identified out in space indicated there had at least been intelligent life out there at some point. We created the Hermes Project. And you’re listening to it. To understand this message you’re on your way to developing the Dark Matter problem. I just hope you can find a solution to it.

+++ Since the start of Project Babylon, our races largest scientific project to-date, Dark Matter has grown by 1346% and now offers a significant threat to our planet.+++

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Storing Ideas


It's quite annoying that I have to go to work, I need more time to write and edit and occasionally send things off to get rejected. A backlog is developing and I have to store all this stuff somewhere, my wonderful brain...


I've tried various ways to keep track of them which I shall summarise thus:

My Brain (obviously)

The ultimate store thing. I've got a really good one, people like me to be on their quiz teams because of it (this is not hubris, put me on your quiz team). But things still splurge out of it and are lost. Generally the really good exciting things that'll probably make me a fortune. Why do these things go and not the distance a short-bow can be fired in Warhammer Fantasy Battle? I haven't needed to know that for over 15 years...


Pretty handy, I can just note the thing down and forget about them, freeing up space in my brain for remembering obscure facts about goblins. The drawbacks are; losing them; proneness to water and beer; and ultimately my handwriting is so bad it drains motivation like a dozen rejections at once.

Springpad App

I like the Springpad app in Chrome. Drawbacks, I need to be online and they'll probably turn it off or something. There are other apps that do pretty much the same thing. Why did I pick Springpad? No reason, a whim, a fancy, maybe a goblin told me to...

But the problem is even if I note them down in a book or App the idea hangs around my brain throwing the furniture around and beating up my memories (Why do I never forget an idea once I've noted it down?!). I need some kind of secure storage. I wonder if there is a device for writers' ideas, like the containment thing in Ghostbusters. It hangs on your wall and holds all those things that make you a little mad...der...

Maybe I could make it. It might make me rich, so I can stop working and write all the time. I'd better note it down so I can work on it later...