Saturday, February 27, 2010

Writing for the hell of it...

Didn't pass the audition

Well, I didn't make the first cut at CreateSpace (the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) but wasn't entirely surprised as I entered on a whim, and didn't really understand what I had to do to 'pitch' it, having never written to an agent or publisher, etc.

I am so diffident that (without looking back) I suspect I said I had written it in a hurry, done very little editing, felt rather pleased with myself, etc. Well, no, actually, I described it as an adrenaline-free book, a gentle soul...

[oh, OK, I'll dig out what I wrote some time - the first odd thing about the set-up was the lack of confirming emails when uploading - to the point that I began to feel unsure I had even entered successfully...]

Waiting to hear

Anyway - it was fun to join the countdown, and read all the forum entries, although some people seem to suffer real angst (like people who enjoy the rush of the lottery numbers announcement followed by the almost universal disappointment). I got a little excited, but not a lot - I prefer surprising success to over-optimism followed by depression.

Still, some people obviously put a lot into this, and hope to write their way out of poverty, or give up the day job, etc - and I simply don't expect that sort of thing to happen. If I could write something people enjoyed, and maybe make a little pin-money, I would be perfectly blissed out!

Been there, done that

Mick dreamed of writing his way into a livelihood, and got very down about his 'failure'. You have to be tough to take such rejection. It's why I could never be an actor or a chorus dancer, endlessly attending auditions, then going back to waiting at tables. It would destroy me. I got into show-biz by learning something unusual, then going out to offer it on street corners as a solo performer. Of course, the roaming public are critics, too, but they simply don't have to pay you, they don't have to analyse why. And if you enjoy what you do (I loved juggling) you can do it anyway without an audience. At the moment I write for my own amusement.

Oh, and I self-published the best cut I could make of Mick's book, too. Another Kinda Time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Writing by Numbers

I did some inventory work for the library yesterday, and found myself doing the Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers section.

I see a lot of post-Dan-Brown books - keywords: conspiracy, secret societies, etc.

Perhaps I should try one of those. Let's see, I'll need some kind of formula. It won't be easy for me because even though you can avoid sex scenes (the same way old sci-fi used to) you can't avoid death, and preferably torture, sadism, disfigurement and a lot of other stuff far beyond tying your heroine to a railway line - which I may find hard to write.

However - I can't give up before starting, so, let's see. I'll need these elements:

  • Famous Location(s) - Tourist attractions, cathedrals, special cities, etc. which might (or might not) like the publicity your book generates.
  • Famous People of the past - Who's been done? Mozart (Freemasons), Van Gogh, Gaudi, Da Vinci (or rather Leonardo) of course, Jesus and Mary, Shakespeare, Kennedy Bros, Elvis, Marilyn.
  • Imaginary organisations (or imaginative alternative uses for existing ones) or very secret societies - [eldritch rising organ music]
  • Scary events - Bond villain plans for the world – religious prophecies – natural catastrophes – alien invasion – ritual murder – abduction
  • Alternative Historical interpretations of source of civilization/religion, etc
  • Money (almost infinite resources to jump on planes, etc)
  • Religion - and esoteric belief systems of magic(k) or witchcraft
  • Espionage – codes and cyphers
  • A MacGuffin everyone is looking for (manuscripts, formula, Holy Grail, magic spear, etc)
  • Ingenious methods (technology from Q, magic from Jonathan Creek)
  • a couple of investigators - partly qualified but a little out of their depth
  • some innocents dragged into the whole thing – often in jeopardy
  • plenty of disposable villains (for getting their come-uppance)
  • the Grinning Sadist – boss’s sidekick or lone wolf?
  • a worthy opponent for our heros (curiously charming - but dangerous - Big Boss, or terrifyingly unhinged tyrant)
  • Special helpers (Mycroft Holmes, professors, etc) - usually die, too
  • Anonymous super-rich people (malign or benign) – provided with helicopters, forts, wodges of cash, etc
  • Celebrities (who, like police and spies, have access all areas – assistants, second homes, etc – disadvantage – easily recognised)

One obvious advantage of 'professors' is that they can lecture the protagonists with all the author’s research notes – just as they can explain their own specialities ad nauseum.

Although our protagonists should feel attracted to each other, for a little sexual frisson, they should be too busy running for their lives to actually find time to get it on, as they might in a bodice-ripper – and if you really want to make the goodie angry, try killing the woman he intended to commit to (leaving him an embittered but free bachelor for the next book).

It used to suffice to have a killing for murder mysteries, but jaded palates mean that you now have to have at least a serial killer, ideally a child killer, and perhaps multiple rapist as well (if you can sneak in the paedophile ring of respectable people, even better). The grinning sadist fits well in here. If even that doesn’t suffice you may have to escalate to genocide and dictators to give the reader a thrill, or even the end of the world and the human race.

Best to try to avoid farce at this point (DNA's starting point for H2G2 is the Earth being blown up by a Vogon Constructor Fleet developing a hyperspace bypass).

I guess if I want to make people squirm and curl their toes, without describing the torture of humans, I may have to do a very graphic scene in an abattoir, maybe.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another novel idea

You don't see me much in here, but that's because I work on several blogs and forums, etc - not because this blog has died!

I came across The Blooker Prize today - originally a Lulu idea, for books based on blogs or websites, etc.

Their blog may prove more informative, as that new site still has some dead links, etc.

Cory Doctorow remains good value, as ever - so worth at least a quick look at the blog.
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