The Empty Cellar

21 10 2015

My ideas are generated in the cellar. Each room a generator of a different idea, a different view. A story viewed from one room can look completely different if I take a look from the creative sitting locked in the cellar cell next door. A stalled story arc can be resurrected or rechanneled by seeing the whole at 90•. 
Travelling has left my cellar rooms empty. Clean sheets, fresh clothes, pleasantly scented. But empty. Now is the time to think about the minds, the creatives I want to put in each one. Do I want a boho free spirit, a constrained and uptight bookworm, a journo with tight style and logical bent? Or go for random. Try a few and keep what I like the feel of and to the furnace with the dross? Time will tell what minds will work on the next Penny B mystery but she will return from the cellar (of my mind?)
Image care of Stuart miles and free digital images. Net

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Writing with film in mind

27 08 2013

Should you write a book, a story, a tale of woe, always with a thought of the film rights dancing around in your head?

Does your hero look remarkably like Tom Cruise or Tom Wilkinson or heroine have the same hair or eyes as Jennifer Aniston or Helen Mirren? As dialogue flows in your head is it spoken in the manner of someone you have created or someone stolen from the big screen?

This is a difficult path to follow. A scriptwriter can write with some bare bones around the dialogue whilst someone putting a story to bed needs to ensure the reader dreams the situation, they add the flesh to something you have already given musculature and definition to.

Sequels are different. If you have a book already up on screen you would be foolhardy not to start adding affectations to your text. Your director has recruited (hopefully) strong actors who will have taken the screen adapted words of your book and given life to the character – probably not everything will be as you expected but that is the way of film. To even recognise your own story is sometimes hard enough after twenty different screenwriters have all tried their hand at making a complex, thought-provoking book into a 90-minute cinema-filler.

But to return to the theme. Should you write your novel with a film in mind? It can’t hurt to contain some scenes in the same location if location is less important – it makes for cheaper production costs. If the cast of thousands add nothing to your tale but bluster then burst that bubble. Ultimately though, you are writing your story. I say this again and again. You are writing a story for you. If your story needs to blow up the Houses of Parliament there are good CGI studios out there who can do it for the cost of hiring Colm Meaney’s left thumb for a play.

Just get on and write!





Topical fiction – It’s Alive! Alive, I tell you!

21 08 2013

Sometimes an author gets lucky! They’ll be beavering away, writing hard about, say, a dark psychological view of a man’s twisted world. Then they’ll be taking a break and see on the TV news that their anti-hero was real. There was someone out there who’d just been caught doing exactly the same thing. Something that some in the real world would call a crime!

Two things would run through that author’s mind. Firstly – they are not alone in the dark. Second – is this prime publicity for their book?

Is it? Should he quickly finish it off, even if second rate finishing, just to get it out in time to get some fillip from the fourth estate, ride some wave of rich ghoulish publicity? Or should he continue on his way, writing what he wants to write – perhaps taking some elements of reality into fiction – but not letting the world’s priority impact his inner creative urgency?

A third thought comes…

This was a particularly dark tale from suburban American. If he doesn’t get the book out soon, will some pulp fiction author steal his thunder with a piece of reality-based-fiction and leave him with only the dregs and reputation as a coat-tail-hanger, a genre-stealer?

No – if the public want tales from beneath ground level, they’ll get what they want!





Sequel threads – lay the groundwork early

18 08 2013

Unless you are setting out on a saga of such length that you know it will take three tomes to get it finished then you are writing a one-off. You are pouring your heart and soul into this book, this tale. Giving life to the concept which came to you over a bowl of cornflakes or perhaps was years in gestation. It is a story, a one-off.

Now you’ve nearly written it, your mind has to flick forwards to life-after-novel. What next? You’ve spent so long with these characters, this situation, you must start thinking about whether you could write some more about them. The Series is born.

Before you finish your first novel you therefore should be looking for seeds to plant. Loose little threads you can pick up and develop and turn into something new. If you don’t leave these pointers and plan them out, even if not in great detail, then you will find yourself having to scratch around for a sequel.

Why give yourself the angst?

Just add a sentence or two about your hero’s mysterious sister or something deeply significant in the setting’s past. Think about which bits of your story you like most, which people have the most interesting lives you have created. 

Your editor will probably also give you some pointers but one way to help get that editor is to show you are savvy and aware of the benefits of having a customer base already bought in to your characters, already emotionally invested.

So leave a loose thread, weave a flaw in the pattern, knit one, pearl one, drop one.

Then you can enjoy finishing off your book and start to leave hints in your own blogs and on your website about where your heroine is going to next.  Give your readers an inch and they will make up the mile themselves.





A Writer’s Retirement – the promised land?

14 08 2013

You don’t retire on book one. Or two, three or four. In fact, if you’ve got four over the line you don’t retire at all – the ideas keep coming, the books keep coming. Life is retirement because you are doing what you love to do. And loving what you do is what counts in life.

I knew a man once. He enjoyed his work. Loved it. Spent every waking hour he could at it. I used to have a job and when the working day was over then my commitment to it ended. He said to me that if you don’t love your job, don’t do it. It is where you spend most of your waking hours so if you don’t like it, don’t love it, just don’t do it.

Nice to have the choice, I thought!

But as time passes I see his point. I love what I do and who I do it with, for, about. Love it.

Would I stop? Only if I was forced to by circumstance, failing health or policy intervention. Luckily, I don’t think I will ever give cause for the constabulary to pay me much attention.  Then again, I do like to take the odd risk.

If retirement was forced upon me by the walls of a prison could I continue writing? Would I find sufficient raw material to shape and mould? Would my publisher still talk to me or would a new pseudonym have to come to life?

A new one? Does that mean I have one already?  JK has a lot to answer for, bringing the subject to the top of people’s minds!