Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Writing a novel

I’m still writing short stories but I have also begun my first ever attempt at a novel. Inspired by the Cosmopolitan Miss Write competition (Think I would have heard by now - think somebody out there has probably already heard and is jumping around in silent glee, having promised not to tell a soul until the official announcement.)

Anyway I decided I liked what I had come up with for the competition and I’m now busy ‘writing it up.’ Going from my usual 3-5000 words to a potential 100,000 seemed a bit daunting at first but I have found comfort in a book called The Weekend Novelist by Robert J Ray and Brett Norris. It’s a very readable guide to structuring, writing and completing a long piece of fiction. Having read it on my hols I now feel that it is actually possible for me to write a full novel. I have a plot curve, stacks of character profiles, and lots and lots of scene summaries. Even better I have several thousand new words to add to my original 3000. I have given myself a deadline of Christmas to get a first draft finished (Deadlines you see, can’t do without them).

All very exciting. Still working on a bunch of short stories too (see competitions list below)

Thursday, 16 August 2007

A beginning

So, OK a new blog started (one of 40,000 today apparently). Why? Well I started a diary (the paper and pen kind) at the beginning of this year. I carry it everywhere and have found that just having it makes me write. Sometimes it's just unsharable nonsense but other times odd sentences or word pairings lead me on to characters and story ideas. So, I thought as I spend so much time sitting at my computer I might as well have an online equivalent, an electronic sibling to my paper and pen. Another place to sit and natter to myself and to anyone who wants to listen, to play with words, to try to find the right ones.

In an undusted corner of my room a teetering stack of cardboard and paper sandwiches together years and years of my writing in a giant Scooby snack. Ideas for characters, for plots, for conflict and adventure. Lots and lots of beginnings but too few middles or ends. I began to think as the pile grew higher that I would never write a complete story, not even a very, very short one.

Then I discovered the joy of writing competitions and more importantly - Deadlines! I've known for years that the only way I ever get anything finished is if I have a deadline to meet but I never thought to apply it to my writing. Self-appointed deadlines aren't worth the paper they're not written on - but every competition comes with its own delectable deadline just begging to be met.

Sad, but true, that was all I needed to get me writing in earnest. It's not the winning (fab though that is when it happens), it's the completing, the finishing, the knowing that I have told a story. So, in the hope of inspiring others, and also as reminders to myself, I will post a list of current writing competitions - and of course their deadlines. Let me know if I've missed out any good ones.