Thursday, May 05, 2011

Rules for Writers - Conf 668

Have been in Procrastination Central all morning. It's 12.14 now, I haven't been out for my run, no yoga, no nothing because today is a writing day.

Well, it's editing, which isn't so bad. Or shouldn't be. But I've been so involved in producing books it's going to take a while to settle back. I haven't written a word so far. Actually I haven't even opened the file. And it's nearly lunchtime now. And I haven't voted yes yet (we have voting elections today on how we vote) (I think it's just that sort of a day).

The morning hasn't been completely wasted. I've updated myself at Good Reads and had a little go on the kindle boards (they rate Good Reads highly as a promotional tool). The Amazon kindle discussion forum is a procrastinator's dream. This is where all those supremely high-selling ebook authors say they started. So you have the added value of thinking you're actually doing something constructive whilst chatting at the same time. But do you have to be careful where you post. Reader threads really, really don't like authors butting in with their promo spam. I didn't realise that at all at first. I found a discussion that appeared relevant to the content of my novel and merrily joined in, with a link at the end to my novel. Mistake! There are lots of author threads though, and some are proving useful, like the tag for tag one, I'll tag you and you tag me. Then your book gets a higher visibility rate.

Over a cup of tea and a biscuit I revisited The Guardian's wonderful Rules For Writers series. I love Will Self's:

'You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.'

and Sarah Waters'

'Writing fiction is not "self-­expression" or "therapy". Novels are for readers, and writing them means the crafty, patient, selfless construction of effects. I think of my novels as being something like fairground rides: my job is to strap the reader into their car at the start of chapter one, then trundle and whizz them through scenes and surprises, on a carefully planned route, and at a finely engineered pace.'

I half agree with the 'carefully planned route.'  If you're writing mysteries with twists then it's obviously necessary to plan it out. I'm less of a planner, to start off with anyway. Endings are always a surprise for me. In the interview I saw at the London Book Fair, Boris Akunin sounded more like a pantser. He starts off with the casting. He gets his characters to a living, breathing point. Then they start interacting with each other and he takes it from there...

One more Rule For Writers from Will Self:

'Regard yourself as a small corporation of one. Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year at which you stand in the corner of your writing room, shouting very loudly to yourself while drinking a bottle of white wine. Then masturbate under the desk. The following day you will feel a deep and cohering sense of embarrassment.'

Ooh, lunchtime..

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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