Not so floppy!

22 06 2014

not so floppy!

not so floppy!

I was on one of my clear-outs of the Drawer of Ideas yesterday evening and found some history. Ancient history to anyone under 20. Floppy discs. Not the big 7.5 inch ones but the little hard plastic rectangles with the metal slider protecting the circle of black floppiness. Old news.

Well actually not! Old stories yes but not old news. Old ideas – but when I rooted through them (having found a converter from Lotus Notes to a more usable word processor) I was surprised to see elements of a number of my current books sitting hidden in stories I wrote 10 or even 20 years ago. These were my backups from the birth of the computer age where a book had to be split into sections, chapters even, and saved across multiple discs. And then saved on multiple more, stored in a different room or sent to relatives for storage against the inevitable fire.

However, fire wasn’t the biggest risk. There was a more dangerous enemy to the floppy disc lurking in every house, hidden in plain view and ready to pounce and delete the data of the unwary. I speak of the evil magnet. Created by Gallileo from Satan’s foreskin and scattered across the world with two aims. First, to stop boats interrupting beach picnics by crashing into land unexpectedly. Second, and more importantly, to delete your data.

Carelessly leaving your floppies on a stereo speaker or too near a telephone and you would return to find nothing, nada, zip. Magnets were the bane of existence. But if you wanted to listen to Wham whilst tapping away at your BBCB or Amstrad then magnets were another necessity of life.

I’m not so floppy now. On line cloud storage in both Dropbox and Google Drive. Double bubble, double safe. And free (for now).





Swearing your way through life – are there any shocks left?

24 09 2013

I used some swearwords in my last two posts. B**stards and B*ll*ocks to be exact. I used them deliberately, for effect, where the context supported their usage. I could have rephrased the blogs, restructured the context and made the points less impactful and the words would have become more gratuitous? In the second case though, I was already thinking about this next blog.

“B*ll*ocks!” you say. “You probably got some comments and wanted to respond.”

Swearing remains quite a sensitive subject. Even in this modern world when it seems every other phrase in modern TV post-watershed drama is F-that, C-this, sh*t, w*nt, b*gger the other. Half the music charts have words you wouldn’t want your pre-teen to hear – even if they are spoken in Korean!

Some web-filters will see through my use of aster*sks and hide this and preceding blogs but some will remain ‘innocent face’ and let readers fill in the blanks. For this reason alone I will continue to only use swearwords in context, not for impact.

But should I care? Should anyone care what language another writer uses? Does language use limit your readership? Do writers find themselves in a box if they use difficult, contentious, slang-ridden or just plain bad language?

Probably yes. Definitely – who knows? Questions lead to more questions. And any answer you get from one person will differ from the next.

This is one of the reasons I love writing. It is so subjective. One man’s meat …Back to the point though – in dialogue, when writing in anger, swearing is present. Ever-present. Sometimes writing for the baddies I even wish my keyboard came with a little shortcut – the F*** button. It would definitely speed things up!





The envelope of doom – part 2

7 08 2013

How do they do it? What do they look for? What makes the next big thing? What do they want to see?

If publishers and agents knew what the next big thing was my guess is they would have hired a ghost writer and already thrown it to the reading wolves. The next big thing isn’t based on a recipe. It isn’t, by definition, formulaic. A sequel can be formulaic, a follow-up can continue a story we know people are interested in – whether messrs Langdon, Potter or Grey – but a first novel has to break new ground to win big.

Most don’t.

First novels can be launched to great fanfare and perhaps they are the Great British Novel awaiting only time to bring awards and accolades to your door. Most aren’t.  Most fit a genre, have a bit of a twist or are penned by an author with potential to produce more and the face to fit on a breakfast telly sofa and pull readers in. Most do OK. Only OK. Some a bit better, some a bit worse, but OK.

But back to the point of this blog. What do they look for? They are looking for you. They want you to have written something good, something readable, saleable, promotable and ultimately, just plain interesting. Write your best, edit it to hell and back, then have friends and family do the same.

If you want specifics on what they look for, you’ve come to the wrong place. Speculation is all very well, it has its place, but why not look at the website, look in one of the Writers’ yearbooks/guides etc. Don’t speculate – do some research. They want to waste their time even less than you want to waste it so DON’T. Give them what they ask for in a format they want to see it. The contents, the story, then has a chance to shine through.

And please do a final spell-check before you send it! I’d be disheartened at finding typos on the first page – your target might not even get to the excellent third sequence before it is on the slush pile!