The Graham Greene Affair: Week 2

The Grahame Green Affair
Standard

The Graham Greene Affair: Week 2

The Graham Greene Affair continues to work well for me. Despite feeling like I have a head full of cotton wool, I’m somehow managing to keep pace, and am actually finding it more and more difficult to stop at 500 words. Last night I found myself awake at 1 am, Googling the name meaning of a new character, debating what superpower I would give them, and how it would affect the story if I did. Then I drifted off in a haze of, “I should definitely move that scene”, “Something else needs to go in between that and that”, “Maybe I should cut that in half and whack something in the middle.” Yes, this challenge is keeping me up at night, but honestly I’ve never been more pleased by a bout of insomnia. It’s the kind of sleeplessness you have as a kid the night before Christmas, or your birthday. It’s exciting.

Part of what has triggered this excitement is talking about Rimjhim in a pseudo-academic style again. I spent the better part of yesterday swapping notes with my friend Jo, who is joining me on this epic quest to finish a novel. I’ve got to say, I greatly appreciated the input, and it was good to hear that my writing was having the desired effect. As always, there were things that I loved that she didn’t, and there were things that I hated that she loved. In particular, there was a scene in which my protagonist, Alec, and his best friend sit down to catch-up. Personally it drives me crazy. I think it drags on, and I don’t like the way the Alec dithers over what to say. But Jo liked it, and thought it worked well. Obviously, I will probably still edit the scene to a point where I’m satisfied with it, but I don’t feel the need to hack half the scene away, as I was planning to do.

I would highly recommend finding a writing buddy if you’re thinking about trying this challenge, or even if you just want to get serious about your writing in general. While I’m a fairly solitary writer, I find that having a second set of eyes for redrafting is crucial, and it never hurts to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off. Yesterday, 90% of the questions we asked each other were about plot. Mine were mostly about the age of the characters, and whether I needed to age them up or down to fix the storyline. Jo’s were about character arcs, personality changes and possible relationships. I think we both came out of there with a better idea of where we were going.

Of course the best thing about having a writing buddy, is that, unlike your other friends (or family members), who are likely to tell you that your writing is amazing and they love it and that they can’t wait to read more, your writing buddy will know when to get a bit ruthless. They know the importance of brutal honesty, and what to look for. Jo pointed out that in one scene I had given Alec a phone with a battery life of over a month, and I had crammed about three major plot developments into another. The first was a mistake that I had completely missed, the second, a reoccurring issue (I get over excited sometimes, okay?) that I have picked up on in some places but not in others.

Discussing work like this can be difficult at first – believe me, if you’d asked me 4 years ago if I wanted someone to thoroughly critique my writing, I would have told you where to go – but the fact is, a novel is never just yours, not if you actually want it read. At some point you are going to receive negative criticism, and the sooner you learn to separate the constructive from the pure opinion, the better. You learn to take what’s useful, and disregard the rest, and so you improve. Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without you, Jo!

Love,

Mort.

P.S. If anyone else would like to join us, you are still more than welcome. I’m sure I will be editing and discussing long after I’ve finished my first draft, so seriously, come on, my friend! Let’s do this!

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo – 5 Unusual Reasons to Take the Challenge

Standard

I’m currently participating in NaNoWriMo, which for those of you who’ve been living in the cupboard under the stairs (this blog operates a wizard and bogie man friendly, FYI), stand for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to writer 50,000 words in 30 days, which averages out at 1667 words a day, if you’re keeping up. Of course I, like most participants at this point, have fallen behind. I am currently 5000 words in arrears, and should probably be working to fix that right now. But instead, I thought I’d share some unusual reasons for joining in, even at this late stage.

1. Insomnia – I find it’s a brilliant cure. Keeping your brain going for almost two thousand words a day really pushes it to the limits, and I’m usually flagging by 10/11 o’clock at night. The moment my head hits the pillow I’m gone, and with my upcoming interviews I have never been so grateful for a good nights sleep.

2. Character Company – I’m aware that this may not be how all writers work, but whenever I’m committed to a story I find the main character will start to follow me around, chipping NaNoWriMoin comments wherever I go. NaNo is certainly a commitment, and my lead hero is one hell of a charmer (as played by Rupert Graves). Not only is this method a great way to practice dialogue, but if you pick the right character,  you’ve got yourself a walking talking stress buster.

3. Locking Yourself Away – I know this doesn’t sound like a great habit to have, but if you’re a writer it’s pretty much essential. I recently moved into a flat with a friend, and we spend a lot of our time sitting in the living room together. Before NaNo this meant that if he was at home, I never got anything done, so I’d have to wait for him to go to work, and pray he didn’t come back before I was finished. Now, having committed myself to completing 50,000 words this month, I’ve learnt to lock myself away, physically or mentally, until my daily word count is done. When NaNo is finished, I may take to Graham Greene’s method of writing a perfect 500 words a day, to keep up the habit.

4. Write Trash – Honestly, I can’t imagine writing a quality work of literature for NaNoWriMo would be a particularly pleasant experience. NaNo is great, because it gives you a ready made excuse to write that story that you didn’t want to waste years on. Whether it’s an experiment to see if you like writing crime fiction, a fanfiction with a crack pairing you think no-one else will be interested in, or the ever classic Mills and Boon novel, you can crack it out in 30 days, and be done with it. Never to touch it again, if you so wish.

5. Writer’s Block – Finally, before starting NaNoWriMo, I went to a lecture on the pros and cons. Honestly, the speaker was not at all inspiring, and when I told her I had writer’s block, she promptly exclaimed, “Oh, I never get that! But can I give you some advice?” NaNoWriMo(Raised eyebrows all round.) The advice she offered was to “just write”, which is not at all helpful when you’re midway through a project and you’ve trapped yourself. No. More appropriate advice would be; write something different, and write a lot of it in a short space of time. Because my novel for NaNoWriMo is a trashy romance, I don’t have to worry about characterization or plot, I can just hammer out a chapter without thinking. And it’s working; I can now see the issues I was having with my other novel, and I’m confident when I go back to it I’ll be able to push through them. I’ve gone from writing 500 words a week, to close to 2000 a day.

NaNoWriMo

Yes, Rupert, and it’s fantastic!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short burst of procrastination, and that you’ll consider joining me in this marathon. You can sign-up at NaNoWriMo.org, or simply play along at home.

On another note, just a reminder that my 100 follower giveaway will be running until December 4th. Click HERE for more information.