Thursday, 25 August 2011

Transfer complete

The below entries have been transferred from a different blog site.
It was a site that I used for a while about five years ago, and when it was suggested that I keep a blog as a writer, I went back to that site.  Unfortunately, the site has been completely revamped since then, and although it now has some rather handy functionality, it no longer seems to let people discovering your blog, or let you know who has been looking at it, or how many people.
I've noticed that majority of the writer's blogs that I follow are on blogspot, so I thought I'd give it a go.
The dates for the previous posts are from June 2011 until now.

Major edit - Update

The re-write is going well.  The plan that I cobbled together seems to have been the right approach and I’ve managed to tackle the different plot areas that needed attention quite successfully.
There were three areas whereI’ve found that a solution hasn’t come very easily.  They all have a similar problem in that it would be better for the hero to find out the information being revealed, rather than being told it by someone else.
For two of these, I was completely stumped on how I could achieve this, but for the third issue, I had an initial idea on how to improve it.  Instead of him being told, he could be knocked over by someone fleeing the authorities.  When he gathers up his belongings, he accidentally picks up a book that belongs to the fugitive, and discovers the information this way.
Feeling rather pleased with myself, I started on the new version.  About two thirds of the way through, it occurred to me that he was still being told the information, by a book rather than a man.  Even if I tried to make it less of a narative by the hero reading snippets as he flicke through the book, it still didn’t feel right.  Was I being overly critical of the fix, or were my new concerns right?  I mailed Cornerstones asking for their advice, and they came back with confirmation that my suspicions were right.  Ideally, he should experience the information, and that it shouldn’t be easy.  Stumped by how I could do this, I completed the re-write, thinking that it was better than before, and that an improvement was better than nothing.
As I completed it, a solution to one of the other issues jumped into my head.  It’s odd the way that work arounds or new paths seem to come up when I put it to the back of my mind.  And just to prove a point, while I’m writing this new solution, a better idea has come up for the original fix with the book problem.  This time it wil allow the hero to discover things for himself.
This leaves me with one problem left to resolve.  Who knows, maybe the fix will come  for this when I least expect it.

The plan of action

Having read the review several times, I now have a plan of action:
Addressing the weak areas in the story line.  I’ve listed all of the areas that need some work.  Some of then are just clarification of things that are in my head that didn’t make it onto paper, others are complete rewrites.
The re-writes have taken quite a lot of planning and most of them I’m happy with, but there are still one or two that I need to iron out the details on.
Personal Journey:
I need to shore up the journey that my hero takes.  Make sure that the reader understand his motivation, and why he needs to do what he does, and what drives him.
Although I now know what I need to do, this is still quite patchy.  I think that once the plot phase has been fixed, I can drill into this a little bit more.
The perspective currently jumps about a bit from character to character.  I need to look at this once the plot is fixed and re-write anything that’s not consistent
Show Not Tell:
Again, once the above fixed are in place, I can re-write the weaker bits of the story to draw the reader deeper into the experience.
It’s taken me a while to work out how I am going to do the re-write.  Using the PC is ok, but it’s keeping track of what I’ve changed where.  There’s quite a lot of changes that need to be made.  In the end, I’ve got a copy of the manuscript, and a note pad.  I’ve made notes on the manuscript referencing pages on the notepad, and done the re-writes in there.  So far it’s working, but it does mean  that I’ll have to copy it all into the PC once I’m done.

The Comprehensive Report

The response time for my comprehensive report from Cornerstones was between three and five weeks.  At exactly four weeks, it arrived.
Since my meeting with Eva, I was now aware that I needed to employ show not tell in my manuscript, and after some reflection, I knew that I should be ending my chapters on page turners, rather than round off each chapter.
Knowing that it’s very difficult to take criticsim from someone about work that you’ve poured a lot of yourself into, I braced myself for a bit of a kicking.
It turns out that I didn’t need to.
The report said I “have an intriguing, original idea at the heart of your novel, Iain, and you clearly have a good imagination. I enjoyed reading your story and think it shows potential although, as mentioned, there are some ways in which you could enhance your writing so that your work will stand out amongst the many submissions, which agents and publishers receive each day”
The report was very structured, and offered explanations on areas that needed improvement along with suggested ideas to assist me in heading in the right direction.  I can honestly say that the service I have received has been top class, and I am now fired up to re-tackle my manuscript with a new insight into what I hope will make it a gripping read.

Spread The Word

Following my chat with Jane, I gave Spread The Word a call to see if they could help.
Still under the msitaken belief that my work was good enough to eget published, I made an appointment with their Writer Development Manager, Eva Lewin.  She would be able to help me with my synopsis and cover letter so that I stood the best chance possible of getting noticed when I sent my manuscript out, and to help her prepare for the meeting, she asked me to send a sample of my cover letter, synopsis and the first chapter of my manuscript.
With a growing excitement, and a hint of trepidation, I met with Eva.
The best way I can describe the meeting is… WOW!  She gave me pointers on both the Synopsis and Cover letter, and they will help tremendously.  Then came the bonus.  Although it wasn’t part of the meeting, or what I had paid for, she had read the first chapter, and gave me some pointers on it.
Show, don’t tell.  A concept that I wasn’t really aware of.  A whole new way of drawing in the reader, and allowing them to experience the story in a more intimate way.  What an eye opener.  I could see the potential in what she was suggesting, and that my work lacked it.  Her final suggestion was that I should consider geting my work professionally edited, and suggested a couple of people who could help.
After a lot of weighing up, I decided to bite the bullet and give Cornerstones a call.  I’ll fill you in on what happened in my next post.

A chance encounter that changed everything.

I had thought that my writing was of a publishable quality, and that from this point forward it would be luck that would get me an agent. You know the saying, right place at the right time.
This was before I met Jane. I only had the one conversation, but it opened up a whole new world for me, and now I know that there is a lot of work to be done before I stand a chance of getting that illusive book deal.
I had done my usual lunch time escape from the office to get some fresh air, and was sitting on a bench in a quiet out of the way area when I looked at the woman sitting next to me. She had a pile of printed pages, and was scribbling out bits and writing in the gaps between the lines. Having done this myself, it was obvious that she was editing a manuscript.
I passed a comment that I’d been there as well, editing manuscripts, and this led to a brief chat about writing, and getting published. It turned out that she has had two books published, and recommended an agency called Spread the Word who had helped her with her work.
It was this ten minute chat that that set the wheels in motion and has changed the way I write and edit my books. It also showed me just how far I still have to go before my work is ready.