You know when you’re proofing your MS…

March 5, 2011 1 comment

…and then you decide to change one tiny little detail?

…and then you realise that tiny little detail affects basically EVERY SINGLE THING that you have written after that tiny little detail (did I mention it was a TINY detail)?

…and then while you’re fixing everything that comes after said tiny little detail, you notice that there’s another tiny little detail that also needs changing, but the you need to go and re-fix everything that you’ve ALREADY FIXED?

…and then it occurs to you that you could have written an ENTIRELY NEW MS in less time then it’s sodding taking you to PROOF the old one?

…and then you have a MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!

You know?

Well, I definitely know.

Just sayin.

What is a successful writing career?

January 24, 2011 7 comments

Hmmm?

What say you, blogger friends?

The thing is, it seems to be different for everyone.  Some people want to get rich, some want to just make a living, some want to win awards, others want to sell loads of books.

I’d like to win awards AND sell loads of books.

Okay, I’m kidding.  Well, sort of.

When I think about this sort of stuff, I always remember meeting Orson Scott Card, back when I was young and naive.  I had just read Ender’s Game, and my entire world (universe even) was altered.  It was a little workshop with my school – nothing fancy – but I remember being awed to meet an author of a book I loved.

He talked about finally getting a film deal for Ender’s Game.  I still remember how it seemed like that was his moment.  Like he figured if he could get this film made, and get it to do okay, he would finally have ‘made it’.  That was over ten years ago, and I haven’t seen an Ender’s Game film yet.  In some ways, it’s like Orson Scott Card never really ‘made it’ – he never became a household name.  Sadly, neither did Ender’s Game.

BUT.  I love this book.  Love it.  I was about fourteen when I first read it, and it still sticks with me.  It means something to me.  It changed the way I looked at the world, and myself.  It made me think about understanding, and love, and what makes us human.  It mattered to me. It still does.

If I can do this, I will have a successful writing career.  I will happily write advertising to pay my bills until I retire, and long as I can write a book that will mean, to someone, what Ender’s Game meant to me.

I want to write something that matters to someone.  It doesn’t have to sell loads, it doesn’t have to win awards.  I want it to mean something, to someone.

That is enough.

The one super secret to excellent editing

January 4, 2011 8 comments

Ready?

(drum roll)

Save as.

No really.  Save as is your ticket to being absolutely ruthless.  It is your ultimate chainsaw for hacking out those passages in your work that are funny, cute, profound, and just lovely, but are sadly unnecessary.

I’ll give you a scenario.  You have a passage that you love, love, LOVE (i.e. you think this might just be the best, most clever little piece of writing you’ve ever put to paper and cutting out will give you a MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSION!!!).  BUT, it’s not really driving your plot or character development (or, for you copywriters out there, does nothing to make people want to buy the product).

No worries.  Just hit “save as” and create a new version.  This can be your cut to the bone version.  And you can hack everything out.  It doesn’t matter.  Because you have your full version with all the lovely passages that you can’t bear to lose.  You’re not really deleting anything!  It’s so liberating!

Of course you’ll ultimately have to make the decision whether to include those lovely, though perhaps useless, bits.  But by then, you may find you’ve got a far better piece of work than you started with.

So the next time you need to do an excruciating edit, save a new version and hack away.  Believe me, your final will be better for it.

Categories: Copywriting, Fiction, writing Tags: ,

In which, it snows in London, the Pedo author is arrested, and ABWP works hard to affirm her awesomeness

December 20, 2010 4 comments

Well, well.  It has been a busy week for the world in general and ABWP specifically.

First: snow!  In London!  And not that crappy light dusting that turns to gross slushy mush as soon as it hits the pavements.  This!  This is beautiful, fluffy, pristine proper snow that ABWP used to see on TV when she was growing up on a little tropical island.  I love snow.  I love how everything gets all quiet except for the crunch-crunch of your footsteps.  I love the way the little lamps in the park (which I walk by every day and have never noticed) suddenly make the world look like Narnia.  I love how the world is all covered in white, and looks like…wait for it…a blank white page!  Huzzah snow!

And in other news (and a bit of a departure from the pure white snow), remember the guy who wrote the Pedophile’s Guide (I wrote about it here)?  Well, he’s been arrested.  Which puts me into a bit of a tizzy, as I’m all for freedom of speech, but pretty hard core against pedophiles.  Yuk.  Huzzah Florida.

And, as a little catch-up on the pre-resolutions, I am still affirming my amazingness daily (even when I feel decidedly non-amazing).  Huzzah ABWP.

Categories: Random thoughts

How to write with voice

December 12, 2010 6 comments

So we’re going to have a break from the usual gin-fueled rants on London’s public transport and actually talk about what this blog is supposed to be about: writing.

When you’re trying to write a novel, everyone tells you that the most important thing is to find your voice.  So.  What is this nebulous ‘voice’ of which I speak?  The thing is, it’s pretty hard to put your finger on.  It’s a sort of style, a distinctive voice and flow.  I like to think of it as your personality on paper.  It’s who you are, to people have never met you.  If you do it right, people will know who you are without having to read the by-line.

I struggle with this.  If you’ve been hanging around this blog long enough, you probably know that in my day job, I’m a copywriter.  And that means I’m not allowed to have a voice.  Or a style.  The mark of a good copywriter is the ability to write in lots of different styles.  So how am I meant to turn it off and on?

I’ve now decided that copywriting is great for helping develop voice (it does, also, have the happy side effect of ensuring I am able to pay rent and buy food).  It’s great because I’ve found that the best way to find your voice is to write lots of stuff in lots of different styles.  You’ll eventually find a style you are most comfortable with.  And then you’ll write like that for a while and it will start to morph and change a little bit.  And then it will be your own.  Hooray!  That’s your voice.

So.  It’s taken me over three paragraphs to tell you that the way to write with voice is…to write.  A lot.  Not exactly a revelation, but true all the same.  So happy writing.  In whatever voice is yours.

Pre-Resolutions

December 1, 2010 5 comments

So, beloved Rejectionist is holding a Participatory Self-Actualization Opportunity, otherwise known as a pre-resolution un-contest!  Hooray!  December resolution goodness!  Here are resolutions for ABlankWhitePage (ABWP):

1) ABWP will stop worrying about what others think of her (this is SO SO HARD you have no idea how much TIME and EFFORT ABWP spends worrying about what others think of her WRITING, her COMMENTS, her PHONE CALLS, even her CLOTHES.

2) ABWP will write at least 1 post a week (stop laughing Blogger-friends)

3) ABWP will be more honest: she will write what she wants EVEN IF IT OFFENDS PEOPLE, and wear what she wants (thank God she works as a copywriter), and BE HERSELF and if people don’t like who she honestly is THEY CAN JUST SOD OFF

4) ABWP will finish editing her MS (OH GOD SO MUCH STILL TO CHANGE AND REWRITE IS DAUNTING AND OVERWHELMING AND SHE HAS NEW DAY JOB AND NEEDS TO IMPRESS BOSS DO HER BEST…BUT SHE WILL NOT NEGLECT HER MS OR WIP because they MEAN MORE to her than AD COPY even if ad copy is mostly for good charities)

5) ABWP will spend at least 7 hours a week on non-work related writing EMAILS DO NOT COUNT for ABWP, but BLOG POSTS DO

6) ABWP will not make decisions based on fear, and if she is scared to do something but knows it would be good for her SHE WILL DO IT, BALLS TO THE WALLS

7) ABWP will acknowledge DAILY that she is an amazing WRITER, an amazing WOMAN, an amazing FRIEND, and an amazing PERSON, and she will stop feeling that she is NOT GOOD ENOUGH to get anything that she wants.

8) ABWP will not procrastinate

9) ABWP will email her amazing mother (who will pass news on to her father) at least ONCE A WEEK (and will start saving pennies so she can fly home to visit)

10) ABWP will limit MASSIVE HEAD EXPLOSIONS to one a day wherever possible

And what of you Blogger-friends?

And…back!

November 22, 2010 4 comments

So this is one of those posts where I make all kinds of excuses about where I’ve been.  Except I’ve actually been accomplishing loads of important un-bloggy stuff.

I have a new job that starts next month.  I shall still be copywriting for a little agency, but it’s a little step up and I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to come along.  So, hooray!

I have finally moved in properly (except for the odd bit of IKEA furniture that still needs assembling–I somehow managed to build a desk backwards) to my new flat.

I have dug out my old MS from under layers of dust and began a massive edit (rewrite)…so I should be ready to re-query early next year whilst I work on the current WIP.

Now.  Enough of what I’ve been up to and on to what everyone else has been up to!  Nathan Bransford is no longer agenting (sob), but is still blogging (hooray).  His latest post talks about how to build an online following (number 1 is be consistent…HAHA—ABWP MegaFail).

And while I’m on the subject of MegaFails, Amazon listed a Pedophile’s Code of Conduct, which I initially thought must be a bit of a piss take, and promptly forwarded on to the work colleagues, including Creative Director et al.  But it seems the book is rather serious.  And as much as I vehemently oppose book banning ( Lolita is, after all, an amazing, if deeply disturbing, book), I think this may be going a bit too far.   Also, it’s now hit the top 100 list–probably boosted by people like me complaining about it.  Huh.

And in case you’re traumatised by the Pedophile book news, I’ll leave you with the funny and super-cute Ninja Cat (so you can sleep at night):

 

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