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 secret to writing and the reason why this is Awesome!

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to know a little secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you. Now, are you sitting comfortably, got a drink? Go on, go get one, your favorite tipple or a hot chocolate, I’ll wait…

You all set? Great,

Ready, Set, Here it comes……..

“Writing isn’t easy.”

Phew, I said it. Did you think I was going to give you the secret sword of wordsmithing? Do you think that there is some sort of magic bean that instantly transforms you into a genius who wee’s excellence? Or perhaps one ring that rules them….. Sorry got carried away there.

We all wish there was and we’ve all seen the sales patter..

“Sign up for my webcast where I show how you can write a bestseller with next to no effort on your part…” and all for just 500 fat ones… Ohh PURLEASE

Ever thought that if you could just…… find the magic keyword that opens the door to blockbusterville closely accompanied by the six figure publishing contract (where we don’t have to market or speak to people), that everything will be okay? It won’t.

Success in life is about persistence and luck. You have to keep at it and be ready when luck comes knocking. But before luck can pull up at the welcome mat (you are not naked are you? Good Gracious, put something on… No not the jogging bottoms.) you are there prepped and ready for it. So here’s my reason/s why it’s great that writing is so hard.

1. If it was easy everyone would be doing it….

If writing a novel or writing in general was a cake walk then everybody would do it. I know that at times it may seem that everyone IS doing it but they’re not. It’s just the writers resources and blogs where you have hung out. Most people don’t do it or can’t do it and that’s just great for you and me. Less writers, less competition – mwah, ha, ha, ha….. I am stroking a cat, she is long haired but she definitely does not have a diamond collar.

2. If it was easy everyone would finish it…..

Most people never finish. There are hundreds and thousands of dusty manuscripts and half written poems or short stories lining drawers everywhere. If you’re gonna do this writering you have to finish. A half-written story is a broken promise. Now you are not the sort of person who breaks a promise are you? Good. I thought not. (Please in the name of all that walks and crawls do not let this be me…. 9,600 and a full stop to go.)

3. If it was easy everyone would do it well….

Yes, I know a lot of poorly written and unbelievably dire books are out there. If everyone did this well, how would you and I distinguish ourselves against the rest of them? It’s  our error free original wonderful creative voice that makes us special. We don’t just ship, see point 2, we ship rainbows and cream cakes and the smell of grass after summer rain.

So yes this writing is hard and it takes time, persistence, sweat, tears, anger, frustration and love to create.  But that is why the fact that we are writers and we write is AWESOME.

Comments, as always are welcome.

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.

Finding a Niche – Writing to read not writing for readers.

Niche Syndrome

Niche Syndrome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started writing again because no one was writing what I wanted to read. There are some amazing books that I really enjoyed but there were no books that really hit what I wanted and that’s why I picked up my creativity and got cracking again.

I was away for the holiday this weekend and I took my net-book and whilst thinking out some plotlines, I realised I was falling into a bit of a trap. The snare of thinking about the reader too much. I was trying to craft situations that I thought the readers would want to read and not remaining true to my original vision of the story.

It’s quite easy when you’re a newbie writer to do this because you are often second guessing what you think. Whilst it’s okay to think about plausibility and originality and to make sure your story is authentic, the minute you begin thinking about the end-user just take a moment.

Writing for other readers doesn’t work if it did then there would be a magic formula that all writers would follow that would result in endless bestsellers and residuals. Don’t believe the hype and all the books that promise just that.. Are savvy (if immoral) authors getting rich off your naïvety rather than any original novels they’ve written.

By thinking too long and hard about the reader and not the story, you’re sure to end up with a confused and stilted mess. The minute, I reset my expectations and began again, with what I wanted to read, the niche that no one else inhabits and the story that makes me light up in dark moments, my flow and my creativity raced back in.

Trust yourself and your story and your future readers will too.

So what do you think?

Comments, as always, welcome.

 

Do E-READERS stifle sales?

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Kudos, to a very intelligent commentator who left the following in another post of mine and got me thinking. First, please visit Frances blog as her title is very misleading and it’s an excellent blog.

http://wp.me/210UR

You came back! Welcome, now let’s see that comment…

“Kindles has this effect as well. Unlike a physical book one is less likely to strike up a conversation about a current read of another without a glimpse of the book cover.”

I got to thinking? I remember many conversations or Authors discovered by glancing at the dust-jackets of someone else’s book and seeing the reader so intent on the contents, that I absolutely had to check the author out.

I’ve also had many holiday conversations round the pool or on flights where the main topic of conversation is what I’m reading and what my social conversation partner is reading.

In fact, I have a little ritual before I go on holiday where I’ll stop in the bookshop in the departure lounge and buy five or six books that I’ve heard of or seen people reading.  With the rise of the e-reader (I love my kindle) will I now miss out on that? Will I be downloading them to my Kindle instead and will I now rely on the “Reviews” on Amazon to see whats hot and whats er, not?

“23% of Americans ages 16 and older read an e-book in the past year, up
from 16% the year before. The share who read a print book declined to
67%, from 72%”
Thanks to the Pew Internet Project – see the original doc.
 So print is in decline? I didn’t need the above to tell me that…. I see far fewer people reading in hard-copy but that’s great isn’t it? More opportunity for the self-published route…
Well, Yes and No. There’s too many posts to comment on the “Amazon” sales ranking stuff and the KDP Select debate runs on and on. I can’t help thinking that whilst the rise of e-readers is good, it has lost us the opportunity to market our work via the good old-fashioned see someone else reading route.
On a hard-copy book, Authors have their name and beautiful cover art as an instant advertisement. Whilst the old saying of never judge a book by a cover still rings true, at least when the cover was visible it caused interest and got your name out there. How many times have you asked someone what they’re reading on a tablet?
So, whilst the rise of the e-reader and no-one being able to see what your reading may have helped the erotica market by getting rid of the embarrassment, does it stifle an area of Sales for the rest of us?
Have you ever picked up a book abandoned by someone and read it cover to cover,  discovering a new author?  Once discovered, you can’t help buy just about everything they’ve ever written.  Personally, I’ve done this six or seven times finding one of my favorite authors Robin Hobb via this route.
If I picked up a tablet abandoned by someone I am more likely to hand it to lost and found than read anything on it and I still don’t understand how the lending stuff works, which is the somewhat confusing attempt by Amazon to fix this.
So what do you think?

The Joy of Writing – Because sometimes it actually feels good…

We all talk on the blog about the pain and suffering of writing and of how we must knock our head against metaphorical writers blocks or how we are well versed at procrastination and indecision. When do we talk about the joy of it?

Joy I hear you cry! – Can I not hear your suffering and torment, how can I talk about joy when it comes to this mutual addiction of words on paper. Put quite simply  – because it is true!

Yes writing is hard and you can go from feeling you have reached a pinnacle of desperate craftiness to sizzling mediocrity – depending on how it is going. But there are days when you get lost in the story and when the story gets lost in you. When your fingers can’t keep up with the voices and you are left holding your breath and hanging on for dear life as your darlings sweep you away.

I feel like this now and no, none of it is perfect. It will need tortuous re-writes and endless re-structuring. A certain comma, needs moving or a word gets repeated or it is slipping into a turn of phrase that seem like weeds in the well-balanced prose. Or I keep saying that a character turned towards something or looked at something, some basic mistakes.

I urge you to just get that wip of yours out now and let it go, relax, let the words they speak in your head hit the paper and whilst you’re doing that just imagine not being able to do it. Imagine they have taken the gift of being god (for that is what you are in whichever world your building, the situations you craft) away from you.. That you could never do it again. Pretty scary stuff – right.

There are days when it feels like the mountain is too tall and you left a lonesome spirit at the bottom gazing into the distance, feeling small. Then there are the days where you stand at the top of the world you have built and feel, dare I say, a trifle pleased with yourself at what you have created.

It is a gift to create. Enjoy it.

Of course tomorrow is a different story… One with a much less joyous ending. So whatever you are doing, reading your emails, spending time on social media – just stop – that page aint gonna fill itself and if you feel a trite pissed off at having to do it. Just imagine that you could never do it again, and then smile and get on with it….

Comments, as always, welcome.