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?

MY ATTEMPT TO BALANCE THE FORCE. WRITING AND WORKING.

Book cover, The Loyalty Effect (revised editio...

Book cover, The Loyalty Effect (revised edition) by Fred Reichheld (Harvard Business School Press, 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I worked out a couple of months ago that to have any chance of achieving my dreams within writing. Something was going to have to give.Working 60 hours each week and trying to focus the rest of any time that I am not asleep with creativity and be present in my marriage and life was becoming impossible.

So I put my best foot forward and accepted some requests I’d had from other companies to go to interviews.

I didn’t apply for any of these new jobs, they came looking for me and now that I am two interviews away (two separate positions) from a new role with more time for writing I am really nervous.

I know that the move is the right thing and that in the long-term, I’ll have far more time to focus on my Book, the disadvantage is that with any new role comes those first six months where you are picking up a new culture and learning intensively every day. Long term I’m good but short-term it’s just as tough.

Back to the loyalty piece then. During this process I was also approached by a direct competitor of the company I work for with an offer for a role with a significant pay rise. Not just a couple of hundred extra a month. MUCH MORE.

I went along to the interviews because the company had a real refreshing out look on the work life balance and believes that productive people are those who are well rested and well-adjusted and not comatose with overwork. They had a leave early policy on a Friday and is very flexible in this regard.

I got through to the fourth stage, did all the psychometric tests, the logical truth tests, Yada, Yada. They asked for all my package details the night before the last interview. They wanted to make me an offer I would never be able to turn down. The only thing I needed to do was show up and barring swearing, arriving naked or killing someone I was good for this role.

I couldn’t do it, first thing in the morning I removed myself from the process. I know it sounds nuts but I don’t want to leave the current company on bad terms and it would’ve been bad terms. Frogmarched to the door, leaving, car, phone and laptop. I’ve seen it happen to others. The other two jobs I am still in the running for, whilst a similar role (better money) aren’t for direct competitors and whilst they’re never going to be happy about me leaving (for any reason) I wouldn’t have the bad terms hanging over me.

The Managing Director of the company wanted a chat about why I’d withdrawn and I explained my reasons to him. He didn’t get it. He was shocked that I would put some form of emotional attachment (loyalty) to my current employer above my own needs. He explained he’d done something similar and yes, it had been a distressing process to go to a competitor but he’d never looked back.

I just can’t do that…. I’ve never left a single company on bad terms and I am not about to start now.

Am I nuts? Is loyalty dead in the workplace?

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.

THE BLOG

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts – NARA – 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s just words on a page. A short online record of thoughts, dreams, feelings or your favorite cupcake recipe. Whether you’re a serious blogger or just a casual online scribbler, it’s an oasis of privacy in the most public of mediums.

To share or not to share is often your question. Is the time I got caught sleep-walking naked in New York okay to lay down on paper? Or is it something more serious? A stigma or a social issue that haunts you and you feel no-one will ever understand? Do you lay it bare or keep it in? So many questions each time your digits hit the “qwerty”.

Should you show yourself à la open or honest or should you be represented via an electronic icon or meme… Say a pink typewriter? Can you have a public blog and a private persona so that you’re not sacked when you slag off your colleagues when they get on your nerves?

Then there’s the validation, when it goes well. People have read me and even better they have something to say about it. Oh Goody! And when it doesn’t “why does nobody like me?” , “What did I do?”, “Where did you all GO!” and “Why aren’t you all sat by your laptops waiting for my ramblings?”.

Whether you’re a journaller, a shutter-bug, a frustrated writer waiting for their big book deal (HELLO, HELLO, HELLO), a sometime chef or an enthusiastic amateur. It’s all here for you. An oasis for those thoughts, pictures, recipes, poems and life. What’s more, we’ll all be here, reading, nodding, loving, hating, ignoring, following, liking and commenting.

Welcome to the BLOG. Come on in, the waters lovely.

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.

 

Three Reasons to Write

English: Celsius Fahrenheit convert scale Deut...

English: Celsius Fahrenheit convert scale Deutsch: Celsius Fahrenheit Umwanlungs-Skala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was 78 Fahrenheit on this same day last year and the man on the radio, whilst I was driving to a client meeting, also informed me that the first day of spring was yesterday. Really? Have you seen the three inches of snow outside? Driving home through a blizzard I started thinking about the things that I could do over the weekend that didn’t involve leaving the house.

Yes, I am aware of the writing aspect (what a perfect opportunity to procrastinate). The Novel and I, are not speaking at the moment. It’s just a tiff, not a major falling out and after I’ve sulked for a bit, I am sure we’ll kiss and make up over Chapter 20.

However, I came up with a plan and to force myself back into my manuscript, I have come up with three things I’d rather write than do…

1. Clean out the Oven.  – It’s dirty and sometimes smoky, (yes, it really is that bad) but there’s nothing that could force me in there with the horrible cleaning stuff that I always think I’m going to suffocate after inhaling accidentally.

2. Skirting boards. – They haunt me from behind the sofa (couch),” I’m dirty” They say, ” I’m dusty”, and “just imagine how well you will sleep once you’ve moved all the furniture into the center of the room and then back again”. I’m not falling for it. Someone fetch me my outline, i feel a plot twist coming on.

3. The finances – Sifting through receipts working out all the stupid things I’ve bought that I can’t afford and the guilt that goes with it. Is that my notebook? Bring it here.

So whats enough to get you writing again?