WHY RHYTHM AND PACE ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS CHARACTER. THE RISE AND FALL OF A NOVEL.

Haute Tension

Haute Tension (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tap, tipetty, tap, tippetty, tap, go my feet along to my favorite songs on the MP3 player. Easy as pie, my head hears the beat and my feet they automatically know what to do. Oh dear fates now I am singing along and I have a voice that the local foxes and tomcat would be proud of.

When it involves music, its instinctive, you hear the beat and something in you knows what to do, connects on that cellular level that we are all instinctively looking for when we write. Music moves us, and we don’t have to do a thing……

Writing is different, it takes a lot of shitty firsts just to get the language right and once we’ve completed that and it’s readable we then look to structure. How long is this bad boy? Do I really need 120,000 words to say this or could I use fifty grand instead?

Where do I show? Start as close to the end as possible you say okay, “The End”, doesn’t seem that effective, begging your pardon. Use a hook for every paragraph? Are you fecking kidding me?

Okay, now I am exhausted reading it, so that doesn’t work.

This is my nemesis now, the rise and fall. I am not writing a thriller. So having my characters fall from one calamity to the next every paragraph doesn’t quite suit, I want drama and tension to come through, but I don’t want to manufacture nasty stuff to happen just because everyone tells you that you must have your character in deep doo-doo all the time. I am not sure it’s right.

Tension,is what I am trying to create and then resolution and then further tension, my novel should rise and fall like the ocean, sweeping the reader along with it. Disaster, then climax then build again. I want it believable and musical. I want my readers emotions to travel with them on the journey and whilst some of this is achieved by likeability and hateability of the central characters. A lot of this will happen via the structure and flow.

My perfect reader will be on a journey with my characters towards realisation. Not all my characters make it. In fact many that start the journey will fall and their friends and family will be irrevocably altered by their loss. Some for good and some for ill.

It’s creating that wave-like structure that I am finding the most challenging (along with everything else.) I seem to either have too much happening or too little, it’s such a fine balance.

I’d welcome suggestions from others who’ve struggled with the topic of pacing?

Are there any great craft books, you know of that deal essentially with this topic rather than anything else?

The balance between real-life and writing.

Blah! Party logo

Blah! Party logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been less than perfect in my day job this week and simultaneously stifled and unable to write in any downtime. Not that there’s been a lot of that….. I’ve clocked up sixty hours this week. – I am not going to throw a pity party about it, that was yesterdays post!

So how do you manage the demands on your time when you are struggling to finish your novel and trying to hold down an intense job that pays the mortgage?

It’s tough and it’s not a subject that gets covered in a positive way by a lot of the advice blogs you read. I think the usual general gist of it is to –  suck it up…. It’s just the journey of being a writer – Blah, Blah.

I’ve seen strategies and spreadsheets. Advice that tells you to get up half an hour earlier. To try harder because you are obviously not utilising your time properly.

Helpful eh?

I think you need to show balance and when you find yourself short on time, focus on the things that count. Sometimes there is stuff more important than writing or building a platform or engaging in social media or anything like that.

How long have you had this dream for? If you are anything like me, it is decades now. Is it going anywhere? – Nope, it’s here to stay. So don’t sweat it and don’t give the inner demons a chance to wheedle their way in. Because once they start they won’t stop and if you let them get a horn in the door of your mind they’re likely to convince you to quit…. AGAIN.

So cut YOURSELF some slack, you are not procrastinating, hey it would be lovely to have the time to procrastinate.

There are probably people in your life and they deserve your love and undivided attention, too. That Novel is not gonna let you warm your feet on them on a cold winters night and they deserve better. They know it’s important to you, they put up with being a writers widow/er so give them some valuable time.

You will come back to the writing, tomorrow or the next day because you gave yourself some room to let it settle. You placed things in the right order of importance. You cut yourself some slack.

It’s only when we force it that the inner demons get into their stride or we end up thinking about what has to give… Something always has too eventually. So stop beating yourself up about it and go hug a husband or spouse or family member or even a little person.

Comments, as always, welcome.

Why Don’t You Get Me?

Bit by Richard Tuttle

A piece of me, I always knew I was Red.     Bit by Richard Tuttle (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Sometimes, you write a post and it’s all “Hooray” lot’s of likes and comments straight out of the publishing gate. Other times, you write a post (these are the ones you are immensely proud of that you feel a bit like a parent sending your little one to their first day of school) and it’s that tumbleweed rolling down the hill!

So what gives?

Why don’t you get it? Why do I suddenly feel alone in the schoolyard clutching my satchel wondering if you don’t like me and if you’ll never like me?

The writing is the easy bit, the putting it out is  the hard bit. It all get’s mixed up and coalesces into something awful and grimy and messy.

I have a theory that all writers secretly believe their special. Special and different. I know that in my heart,  apart from all the bullshit about grammar, publishing and all that guff, I secretly feel that way too.

I think I fear finding out that I’m deluded and my secret and different specialness is just a dream that keeps me sane.

Here’s hoping I never wake up.

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it 🙂

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.  – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.

Sit at your desk writing and all you’ve got is a book about a desk.

A game of squash

A game of squash, if this was a photo of me, I’d be on the floor, sweating and purple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A double yellow squash ball.

A double yellow squash ball. These are slow balls and we play with the blue……(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been killing myself, learning something new over the past few weeks. I have learned how to run around a squash court. I’ve learned that puce is the colour I turn just before I get to full purple and I’ve learned that a desk job and sedentary lifestyle is to blame for a complete inability to move with real pace and grace.

The day after the first match, my legs felt like someone had driven a steam roller over them and as I had fallen over trying to hit a couple of shots, I also had the bruises to show exactly which part of this frame, hit which part of the court when I went down. My legs now resemble a rainbow of yellow greens.

Laying in bed, nursing both bruises and dented pride, I got to thinking about how good I felt after the exercise and how competitive my nature truly is. I knew I was never going to win as my lovely husband used to play Squash for a county up North. Out on that court, I just didn’t care. For every four points in a row he got, I won one back and it was hard-earned, it was hard-won and I rejoiced inside.

My husbands not the type to let me win either and whilst the sensitive are thinking, “how mean!” He knows damn well, I’d hate it any other way.

So a sense of competition and running around doing something to stimulate oxygen to my brain has had an unexpected impact that I think was missing before.

I used to think the hard part was sitting down and writing and continuing to write until it’s finished. That is what everyone tells you isn’t it? A thousand blogs telling you to sit down and write until those digits bleed, until your sick of the sounds of the keys and the cold coffee your nursing.

I don’t think that’s a productive way to produce quality work. I think to write about what you know, if all you do is sit at a desk, well, that’s all you know. The pain and frustration of trying your very best and still sounding stilted, contrived and wondering why you’re not as creative as other people just sucks as a strategy.

You need to get out and smell the roses, do something that you enjoy and like doing. Meet some new people in real life. Do something that stimulates your emotions and your creativity is not going to be far behind.

Make the minutes you spend writing count, by filling the rest of your time with things that matter. I’m not giving you a license to procrastinate but sitting at a desk torturing yourself doesn’t help you achieve your goals. Living life in a full and authentic way is the best and most rewarding road to writing well..

The absolute best thing about doing this from a writing perspective, is a speech impediment I noticed that one of the receptionists had and an incident with a small child and their parent at a roller-disco they host in the sports hall. I’d never have the exact quirks or nuances of those situations – if I hadn’t been going to do something I enjoyed.

Live well, write well. In my eyes – they are intrinsically linked.

Comments, as always, – welcome.

The GAP – Are you playing at this?

Mind The Gap!

Mind The Gap! (Photo credit: BuhSnarf)

It’s been a while… Sigh.

In fact it’s been about six months or is it more? I forget, even though this blog calls to me at the strangest moments to pick up my little netbook and jot a few thoughts down. I’d reached the saturation point I think, before.

Before, I decided that everyone has done it better and more succinctly elsewhere. Other writers with words more clever and funnier than mine. What do I have to offer except repackaged duller versions of other writers words.

And yet, it still calls to me. This little spot, my unadulterated stream of consciousness. I still think in the middle of the night of the small things I could say in my way. I’d hoped for further forward and feeling brighter and yet there it is in the stats, a big fat huge six month gap and I can’t take it back.

But pausing doesn’t have to mean failing and my words are here on the page.. I am going on. It’s just a little gap….

I hope you will welcome me back and now that I think about it – I never really left. I was just waiting for a space to slide myself into.

A gap.

Hello! I’ve missed you all so much.

Santa Baby, put a publishing advance and contract under the tree for me…

So the book is still getting written. If a little slowly for my tastes but that’s life or my life. There are only so many hours in each week and to have any work, life, writing balance is very tricky.

I really want the writing to be my main source of income and get frustrated that it is not happening fast enough. I know all I can do is continue to write and tell stories but come’on already Universe! Please….

Half the time I am on a set of scales trying to throw metaphorical weights on the other side to get everything even. You need to live to write and there doesn’t seem enough time for everything else.

Family, friends and fun are what help you to write better but when you couple that with a 60 hour work week, what gives?

But I still dream …..