Sunday, 23 November 2014
The novel wordometer clicks over slowly. I am now just a few keystrokes shy of 36k.
Every thousand words or so I start a new scene (a chapter or part of a chapter) The first line of every scene is always a mission. Each scene must be afforded the respect it deserves. The reader must be sucked in anew. A great opening line in scene one can make a reader think 'this book might be interesting'. After that the challenge is to dare the reader to put it down. As a writer that is one dare you hope to lose.
The opening line of subsequent related scenes is but one half of a couplet. We normally associate couplets with poetry but I think it works in this context. I found this origin of the word couplet: "two pieces of iron riveted or hinged together."
The last line of every scene should be 'riveted' together with the opening line of the next pulling the reader through the temptation to bookmark the page. For example, you could finish a scene as follows; "The events of the day hadn't gone as planned, the full extent of which wouldn't be apparent until he got to Grandma's house."
That wraps up a scene and plants the seed of expectation. The opening line of the next scene at Grandma's house must justify the turning of the page.
I have no idea what happened at Grandma's house but I certainly know what happened when my main character arrived at the hippies house expecting to have a meeting with his friendly cop.
Thursday, 6 November 2014
Writing a novel is a bit like riding a mountain bike through sand. Not the small patches, but rather the long and unavoidable stretches you encounter on remote jeep tracks during races.
The first time I encountered sand like that was on a race in the Cederberg nine years ago. It ended with me deposited on a bed of ground hugging thorns except they had taken to hugging my backside.
Such was the misery I decided I would skill up to avoid a reoccurrence. The first thing to do is understand what you did wrong so that you can figure out what to do right. The biggest mistake was trying to hold my line. I tried to force the bike along a given path. The "come hell or high water" approach is doomed to failure in this instance.
My new method has served me well in the years since then. When I see a sand trap approaching I increase my cadence and then follow the bike. Meaning that I don't dictate the line. I allow the sand to direct the bike any which way it chooses and I go with the flow. Sometime that flow results in me cascading over thorn bushes or cutting a new path through the veld. Once through I point my bike back in the right direction and get on with the job.
From time to time as I write my plot hits a sandy patch and it's fun to see where it takes me.
Monday, 3 November 2014
Day 3 of NaNoWriMo finds my main character (MC) in the company of his annoying albeit faithful friend. A rising desperation to locate a character abducted in Chapter 2 has the MC's friend uttering the words "The dog ate it".
The characters are emerging from the pages as I write. The personalities evolving. A main character who at times takes himself too seriously has a sidekick who is the perfect counterpoint. The MC is on the verge of stumbling into an underworld that shakes his perfect world.
I have found writing to be an all consuming and exhausting process. The fact that I am writing on my cell phone means I am never far from a keyboard. As the plot emerges in my head it is instantly committed to 'paper'.
Creating things is what I do, but there is a vulnerability in writing that does not exist in other forms of creativity. If I make a contraption that ticks the boxes of form and function I am satisfied. Questions like "but what does it do?" arouse no feeling of disappointment. Appreciation doesn't come easy in a technical knowledge vacuum. But everybody reads.
Some people claim to write for personal satisfaction but is that really the case?
Somerset Maugham once commented that a book is incomplete until it has a reader. André Maurois wrote, "He, the writer, has written with the deliberate purpose of revealing the truth about himself and about the world as he sees it. The revelation can have no point unless it reaches those for whom it is intended."
I as a writer should be mindful of my audience and should craft a story that resonates with them. Some will like it and some will think it sucks.
My quote of the day is also by André Maurois: "We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence."
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- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Just an ordinary guy who started riding in 2005 at the age of 45. I started with the ambition of completing the local 94.7 Cycle Challenge (94.7km). This is an annual road cycle race in and around Johanesburg. Some where along the way it become a race and not merely a completion excercise. I clocked a 2h54 in my first attempt only 6 months from my first trundle down the road and back. I was hooked and then discovered the magic of MTB. While my efforts on the road were credible, MTBing humbled me. Having said that, over the last 24 months I have competed in 9 multi-day events. I'm a very middle of the field rider, but I enjoy every minute of it.