Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A request for 'The Full'

Literary agent, J.M., has asked to see the full typescript. This is my first time. Although I am fully prepared for this to come to nothing, it is still one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It is another rung on the ladder.

One thing that encourages me is that, although she is the 18th agent to whom I have submitted opening chapters, the first 17 were so long ago (May-July 07) that it was a very different book. It proves that the book is better now. It shows that I have been doing something right.

A x

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lay Readers

I'm quite well on with the current rewrite. The book's in three fairly equal parts and I'm just into part two. I do like it better this way. It's as though I've been winging it without the instruction manual thus far, and now I've finally found one. My problem has always been seeing the big picture of the book. I tried printing out and stapling each chapter separately, and laying them all out on the floor, so that I could get an aerial view of it, by standing on the bed. I enjoyed the exercise, but it didn't accomplish very much. I've also tried writing a single paragraph for each chapter - a sort of mini synopsis - but it felt like it was taking too long so I gave up and got back to the writing. Perhaps I ought to try again? I'm a member of a couple of good writing sites, but you can only post work in very small sections so, helpful as they are for some aspects of writing, they can't really help with the flow of the novel as a whole.

As I've said before, my husband won't read my stuff. I've never actually had it out with him, so I don't know if it's because he's afraid he won't like it and I'll be upset, or what. I put an early draft of Amelia's Body on his bedside table once, and it just sat there, gathering dust, until eventually it was so out-of-date that I binned it. My mum's read a later draft, and had some good comments about the ending, in particular. I don't really have anyone else I can ask to read it though. My nana's asked repeatedly for a copy, but mum and I keep stalling because of the swearing!

It's not like I think my nana hasn't lived, but a few weeks ago, mum and I went to see her in Nottingham (she's 89 and still lives alone) and, as we were leaving, she was telling us about these woolly hats she'd been knitting. She was standing at the front door, with her little 3-wheeler trolley, going, "So I've made two. That's TWO hats, one for A___ and one for D___." Indicating the number two by waving two raised fingers at our retreating backs. Her neighbours in the opposite bungalows will no doubt have been wondering what on earth we'd done to merit such a send-off, from so mild-mannered a Quaker octogenarian. We had a good giggle about it in the car.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Omniscient 3rd person

Can the narrative voice, the omniscient third person, be in several heads at once?

Some say no, it's too confusing. Some say yes, as long as their thoughts are sufficiently differentiated (i.e. you can easily tell whose inner voice is being translated onto the page at any one time.)

Well, here I have a problem. My MC is Caroline. Caroline aged 18 (in the 'present' within the book) but also Caroline later in life, looking back on events, through the medium of her journal entries. My second biggest character is DS Jean Wright, one of the detectives, who only ever appears in the 'present'.

The journal entries are straightforward - no need for a narrative voice - Caroline narrates herself.

The 'present' is more difficult. In alternating Post Mortem/Investigation chapters, I want the O3P to see into Caroline's head, and then DS Wright's but I want there to be certain similarities between the two women. I don't want to differentiate them too much.

To make things even more complicated, there are a few 'Post Mortem' chapters, in which I take the controls away from Caroline and hand over to one of a small cast of minor characters, when one of them has something important to say. In these moments, it seems essential to allow the O3P to see inside these characters heads too. Of course, these voices are quite different, and their sections are pretty short and sweet.

I give up. I'm starting to annoy myself.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Another bloody rewrite.

I've been away so long, hard to know where to begin.

Stina's doing pretty well on YWO - my highest rated piece currently. Privet comes next and Amelia languishes at no.20.

I put Amelia's Body up on The BookShed, and got some interesting advice back. Reviewers have long complained that the structure was too confusing, the 'Post Mortem' chapters hopping about in time as they do, and written all in different styles (journal entries, police interviews, conversations, random monologues, etc.). Anyway, this reviewer (Patti) said just choose a couple of these styles and stick with them, bend everything to fit them, and reduce the no. of characters that you are allowing top 'speak' through these chapters, giving over nearly all of them to Caroline.

Fantastic advice, I thought. I applied it to the first three chapters and re-uploaded them.

Reviewers now agree that the result is far more cohesive than before, but they now complain that all the heart has gone out of it. It is dry and cold.

So, now I have a choice to make. Do I just put it back the way it was and ignore the niggles over the structure? Or do I persevere with the new way and endeavour to put the warmth back into it somehow?

It's got to be the latter, hasn't it? Bollocks. It'll take me weeks.