It’s on the doorstep, howling to be let in. Forget about Hallowe’en tomorrow – it’s NaNoWriMoe’en…
Are you ready? Got your ideas lined up, got names for your characters and your setting? How about sub-plots and your supporting cast? Are your main characters rounded and complex, or do they feel like rice paper?
If you’re keyed up, your imagination might be locked up…
Some people are admitting to an excitement bordering on panic, which doesn’t help the flow of creativity we will all need in the next four weeks.
Back home after a fantastic week in London, Oxford and Liverpool: refreshed, inspired, enthused and ready for the autumn. It’s fantastic to see how people respond to the workshop and astonish themselves with the instant discovery of their, rich and infinite imagination. It excites me just to watch it happen, so think how they feel…
I’m now setting workshop dates for November in London, Manchester, Aberdeen and other UK cities, and California in early January.But if you’re not in the UK or California, and would like a workshop where you are, let me know. Magic can be done. All is possible.
PS The kitten is called Polka for now, because she has one small ginger dot on her head. But it’s not the right name for her. Any ideas? She was abandoned outside my house with her sister Porridge, and is now happier than anything on the planet. LATEST: Pigeon or Pidgin as a name? It seems to suit her better than Polka. Your thoughts?
Whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction, articles or poetry, you need to know things. Be it the times of the trains on 5th February from Oxford to Montrose, the name of the first dog to go into space, or the statistics of the Headingley Ashes Test in 1981, writers need to do their research and be sure of their facts.
Author Kate Harrison has done her own survey on people’s reading habits – what they love, loathe, buy and borrow, what they recommend and why. Fascinating and informative for writers, publishers and other readers.
Amongst other questions, Kate asked which three words best summed up what you wanted novels to be like. The top 4 words (number 3 and 4 were very close) were:
4: Funny (39%)
=2: Thrilling and moving (both scored 40%)
And number 1, with 55%:Thought-provoking.
She also surveyed publishers and agents. Here are three of the comments made:
Nicki Thornton, of Mostly Books in Abingdon, said: ‘Readers are always on the lookout for something that really speaks to them. It takes a lot of time to read a book and if it feels like time not well spent at the end of it I think people do feel disappointed. People do seem to be looking for something ‘a little more’ out of their reading rather than something very throwaway and lightweight.’
Agent Maddy Milburn said that debut authors are having orders cut, and she’s seen an increase in the demand for accessible literary books – as did Avon editor Sammia Rafique, who called these books ‘smart fiction’. But Maddy also pointed out that how the book is marketed makes a huge difference: ‘ONE DAY is essentially a love story but was given an iconic cover that appealed to both men and women.’ Sammia also called for more imaginative engagement with readers via social networking, to tap into their enthusiasm and interests.
Agent Carole Blake loathes the ‘chick lit’ label and its connotations of air-headedness – for me, she sums up the debate in the following: ‘Books that deliver a satisfying reading experience, but also leave the reader feeling they have learned something (historical facts, emotional intelligence, anything else) will leave the reader with the feeling that they have not only been entertained but also educated – they are validating their own leisure time and carrying away something more than ‘mere entertainment.’
“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.”
This is the last of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight tips on writing a short story.
And here’s No. 5:
“Start as close to the end as possible.”
And No.6, which I like partly because it’s good advice but partly because he gives Sadist a capital S, since it’s after the Marquis de Sade, who had one too.
“Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
The missing numbers are worth knowing as well, so here they all are. Thanks to Brain Pickings, a fantastic resource for writers. Or a resource for fantastic writers. Or both, a fantastic writers’ resource.