Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Listing Tower of Prose

List too much and you might fall over. I have been reading a novel recently that has a great deal to recommend it. Good premise, interesting characters and dialogue but every so often it seizes up because of a list. Not a down the page shopping type list...on the contrary a beautifully written, descriptive list but still a list and during lists nothing much is happening to move the story on and worse, the reader might be admiring your list but like a kid in the supermarket, can soon get bored.

If I describe my kitchen as having washing up in the sink and a dish of half rotting grapes on the worktop you may well get the idea that I am negligent when it comes to domestic tasks and not keen on grapes. If I proceed to tell you what's in the fridge you may well maintain interest and compare it to your own fridge even. After that, listing the contents of my larder, what's in the ironing basket (I'd have to make that up as I have no ironing basket) or the ornaments on the mantelpiece start to pall.

Lists can be great if they have real bearing on the plot or are insightful to a character but if they are merely descriptive, take care.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Not zzzzz and I should be.

Bonkers day yesterday and I ought to be a state of sleeply dreamage. Instead, I'm wide awake at four in the morning.

I blame the poets. It was the same last year. I'd come home from class totally fired up with ideas and at the same time sweating about whether it was right for me to suggest they edit out that 'and'. Lovely class.

Yesterday morning I wrote a short monologue. A thousand words. Straight down. Bang. I amazed myself. It's for a competition and I thought I was close to the deadline. As it happens it isn't till the end of next week, so I am now having a leisurely redraft. It's quite soothing. Yawn.

Monday, 5 October 2009


A word of warning about emulating the habits of other novelists. I got up faithfully every morning at six to write having heard that the mind is clearer, the world is quieter, no interruptions etc. All of which is true. It's also true that never in my life have I been a lark but I enjoyed the early mornings very much. It was quieter, my mind certainly was, in fact, my mind was so quiet I'm now wondering if it was actually still asleep. Why do I think this? Because my writing was horrendously sloppy! That's why the redraft and proof have been so painful. Stupid mistakes, spelling errors (and I'm not that great when on top form), the dread repetition...

Next novel, I will write when fully awake. I might save myself a whole load of time.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Good News

Just received a lovely email from Pat Gordon, a student who came to my classes last year. She has won the monthly Writers News competition. I'm thrilled for her and pleased also that her story came directly from a piece of work I set.

I have three new classes this term. That's lots of new people and lots of new ideas. Phew! Can I keep up?