Archive for December, 2009

A Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!   2009 was rather a difficult year for many.

I almost forgot….many, many thanks to the guys at WordPress who have made this fantastic software available to all, without any charge whatsoever.  This year has been the year I discovered Web 2.0 and all the fascinating things it has to offer.

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St James. Muswell Hill

View From A First Floor

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When revising troublesome dialogue, it’s sometimes easier, better and quicker to start afresh and let the conversation unfold in its own way.  In the past, I’ve spent some considerable hours wading through dialogue scenes, trying to adapt the speech to the context.  Constant revising doesn’t always help, but starting from scratch does.

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I’m 23,000 words into the rewrite of a psychological thriller dealing with family secrets, a serious crime and a wealthy man with gangster connections. The writing’s going well, I think, but I’m finding elements of the revision hard going.  In particular, I’m finally having to address structural problems that I’ve generally tended to avoid up till now.

During a recent meeting with an editor, several points emerged:

  1. Readers might have difficulty identifying with the central character, as the character is never really developed in the present;
  2. A significant degree of confusion over two major male characters; 
  3. The central character makes certain assumptions without valid reason;
  4. Authorial voice interrupts viewpoint narratives on occasion;
  5. The central character needs to react to the rising danger in more realistic ways.

There were also promising aspects of the work.  



At present, I’m concentrating on:

  1. Building up more thorough images of significant characters;
  2. Increasing the information experienced through the senses, such as sounds, music, specific smells, etc;
  3. Delaying the central character’s rising paranoia until much later in the story;
  4. Holding back on some of the central character’s childhood memories, background information and back stories;
  5. Finding more sophisticated ways of dealing with memory throughout;
  6. Working in scenes rather than chapters;
  7. Spending several days at a time reworking the scenes before printing them out;
  8. Allowing the plot to unfold gradually;
  9. Making sure that each incident and plot development reveals something new.

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Muswell Hill In The Snow

Originally uploaded by Lawrence’s Picture

Muswell Hill Five Days Before Christmas

Getting out in the mornings was a nightmare….slippery and scary.

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When I first started writing a novel, a psychological thriller, I relied heavily on italicized dreams because it seemed the right thing to do. Over the years, however, I’ve cut most of the dreams and concentrated on the central character in real time. As a member of a novelist group once said to me, “if you’re going to use dreams, then at least reveal something new in the dreams.”

Now, I’ve had to ditch that one important opening dream that acts as a kind of prologue to the action. At a recent meeting, an editor told me that opening dreams are clichés. The editor asked whether I would read a prologue in italics in someone else’s book and I replied that I probably wouldn’t. So I’ve had to get rid of the dream.


The rewrite of the novel seems to be going all right. I’m concentrating a lot more on all the senses and atmosphere.

I’m using a fantastic programme, Storybook, that enables users to plan and organize scenes. Storybook is an open source programme and doesn’t cost a penny (or cent).

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Promising Editing Meeting

I met the editor yesterday and the meeting went well. I need to do some work on the central character, developing the character so the reader can better identify with them. Also, there is considerable confusion over two significant characters and a problem with authorial voice coming through and interrupting the viewpoint narrations. I will revise along the lines suggested and send the work back to the editor when it is completed.

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