Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Breathing Space

I met my deadline and am having a fallow rest of the week - but I'm not going to ban myself from thinking! Already today I've tidied and feel more on top of the housework.

What has struck me today - now I've got breathing space to notice it! -  is how helpful the advice is that says to move on to your next project. I have never submitted as much as I have already this year, but my plan to submit at least one thing a month is really spurring me on. The fact I'm focusing on the next project as soon as I submit the last is definitely taking the edge off my curiosity about what is happening to my submissions, and I know it will make me more pragmatic about the stories that don't achieve anything.

I even noticed this week that a short story I submitted in October to a women's magazine hasn't yet been returned. I'm not sure if I can take that as a positive, but it feels like one! So that one is out there; four are out as magazine competition entries; one has gone to a local writing competition and now the first few pages of my novel and synopsis are 'out there' too. It might not sound like a lot to you if you're prolific, but it is for me! Surely this has got to be good for my confidence?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Prosaic muttering

I've not had time to update my blog because I'm working really really really hard this week on my writing (and only putting about 50% effort into procrastinating!). I am loving Scrivener, which is helping me to tackle my novel in bite-sized chunks. The thought of rewriting the whole thing is so daunting, but just looking at one scene - well, anyone can find time to do that, can't they?
I want to finish this rewriting by Monday, and then I can get some life back, and be a better Mum, and maybe change the beds or locate the vacuum...it's just so enjoyable though. I don't think my husband can quite understand why I growl at him when he drags me back from my creative escape with a prosaic muttering about what to pack for a weekend away.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Wow. This Wowfactor Competition is taxing me! My own promise to myself, to face things I fear and to enter competitions is really driving me this year, and I haven't yet missed a deadline.
 However, this one is looming and I haven't even yet decided for sure if I'm going to make it. There is so much wrong with my book - I can see evidence of my own lazy writing throughout it, and I could just keep it and work on it on and off for another five years....but I'm spending as much time as I can on it, and I'm going to slash about 40, 000 words (I hope) and send it out anyway. It is getting easier to put myself out there, the more I do it.
Having these deadlines gives me permission to set aside all else and focus on writing (when I can stop procrastinating). The house is in a real state, and every so often I want to hyperventilate because it's so bad, then I remember that I can sort it AFTER the deadline.
The one thing I can't put on hold is the children. I see them growing (it happens in fits and starts, as soon as your back is turned) and want to hold onto this precious time in their lives. Looking at old photos, I'm unable any longer to duck the fact that they are only this age for such a brief time. Obvious, I know. But it's no use thinking to myself that the four year old is only four, and we can go the farm another day, or to the play centre next month, when he will be at school soon, and then he'll grow out of things, and one day, quite soon, he won't want to be with me, but with his own friends.
I'm having a real conflict right now about it. The writing will wait. But I don't want it to. The children won't wait, and I want to be with them. But can I really keep juggling everything, or am I going to collapse in a sleep-deprived heap? Oh well, I'll sleep when the deadline has passed...

Friday, 1 March 2013

Writing a synopsis

I'm struggling with my first synopsis. Advice suggested that about 700 words would be best, and no more than 2 sides of A4.  I sat down to begin, and it seemed easier than I'd expected...so easy that I managed to rabbit on about my novel for 1200 words. It's a start, though; I'll be onto the cutting when I next have chance.
I've been unable to leave this story in peace. Every time my mind wanders, it makes its way to the plot and worries away at this point and that. To some extent, I had lost faith in my story, and was considering going back for a hefty rewrite. I was anxious about starting the synopsis in case I realised that the rewrite couldn't be put off any longer, and that the story was so flawed in its chassis that it would never go anywhere.
I was delighted to find that the opposite happened. In writing the synopsis, I saw that the plot hung together better than I had thought - not well, perhaps - but it works. It's so hard to judge with your own work, though, isn't it? You're so close up everything goes a bit blurry and misty.
I can see that writing the synopsis gives you a good sense of perspective, and brings the plot into clear focus.  I think I might write one sooner in the creative process next time, and perhaps keeping to 700 words will become easier.

Here are some general tips I'm following:

Underline the names of a main character (and write their name in full) the first time you use them.

1.5 line spacing is fine.

Try to work in a word or two on your setting.

Write in the present tense.

Refer to your theme.

For instance:  "Noemi Larch is a woman on the edge. Trapped in a loveless marriage,and living in a rural village that makes her feel as if goldfish have privacy, she is keen to break out of her small life, without realising the consequences. When she takes up belly-dancing night classes, she is intrigued by the mysterious caretaker Bernard Noodle and invites him on a bike ride. Unfortuately, a swarm of bees intercepts them and when Bernard is stung, he admits that he has anaphylactic reactions to bee-stings....As Noemi comes to terms with the results of her choices, the theme of atonement is explored...."

Obviously, this invented example makes a synopsis look a little blurb-like, whereas a full synopsis requires the story in full - the purpose being for an agent or publisher to see just where the first few pages of your novel are going, or if a novel about farm animals will suddenly side-track into a novel about alien abduction. This invented example also makes it clear just how poor my synopsis-writing skills are and how much work I've got to do to improve my writing! I'd better go and get on with it instead of writing about doing it...Any tips or hints on writing a synopsis are very welcome, especially from anyone who has actually written one successfully before!