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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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dialogue

Confessions of a Short Story-er

Writing short stories is a very different experience to novelling.

The main issue is that in an ideal world a short is self contained – you can’t have too many threads because it gets confusing.  Over the past 9 months I’ve got used to bashing out big, sprawling narratives that rabbit on and keep introducing new characters all over the place, safe in the knowledge I can rescue the salient points when editing time cometh.

However, I’m finding I can’t hide behind hazy future editing time when writing a short story.  Obviously I can point out in a pathetic sort of way that it’s a first draft and it will change a bit in the edit, but if the whole notion is crap I can’t junk one bit and expand a subplot.  There aren’t any.

Which leads me to a confession: so far this month, I’ve been going back and editing things.  I can’t help it.  I physically can’t bash out a wee story at 1.5k and move on – I feel compelled to re-read and change bits.

In my defense, I haven’t given up on anything and I’m mainly only changing phrasing here and there.  The most I’ve deleted completely is a paragraph.  But technically it’s against the NaNoWriMo keep on keepin’ on spirit of the project, so I thought I should come clean.  After all, when the trust is gone what do we have?

Speaking of NaNo, it has occurred to me that if I’m drawing a graphic novel (or more likely a comic) in November I almost certainly won’t be coming up with 50k of text to go with it.  I haven’t decided on a story yet, and drawing a page takes considerably longer than writing one.  So what should I do?  Write out the storyboard and dialogue and leave the drawings for some other time?  Or sit NaNo out this year?  Answers on a postcard, please.  Or in the comment box, which is easier and doesn’t cost anything.

Poisonous Mushrooms

Cats = Comedy

Lol. This post isn’t really about poisonous mushrooms, that was a cunning ruse to get you attention. It’s really about book 9 and why I’ve been finding it hard to write. I believe it’s a question of genre.

With specific genres, plots tend to come fairly easily once I have a character in mind.  The story grows up around the characterisation and dialogue – probably because those are the bits I like playing with most.  To give you a for instance, when I was doing fantasy in May I was given two character suggestions and knew immediately what I was going to do with them, so I sat and wrote it. 

Humour is not a very specific genre, and to be honest I don’t have a specific character in mind.  My vague plan was to write about the experiences of recent graduates living in the city in a sort of bubbly, chick lit way – Sex and the City but with real people who have real relationships, money issues, terrible flats, identity crises, whatever.  Not just any old real people, but real Scottish people. 

Continue reading “Poisonous Mushrooms”

Another Excerpt From Book Two

“What did she mean, we’re stuck?”  Mrs Shiers peered at Bob accusingly.

There was a pregnant pause, then:

“….what?” he said, in the worst feigning of ignorance ever showcased in the whole of Auchtergowrie Theatre’s long and painful history.

“That actor lassie said we were stuck,” Mrs Shiers reminded him, accidentally slipping into a broader accent in her concern.

“Ah,” Bob shrugged helplessly, looking about him for guidance but receiving none, “that.”

“The security system is jiggered, Mrs S,” Lauren volunteered after several long moments.  “We can’t get out of the building, and there’s a high chance nobody else can get in.”

“But we’d rather that it wasn’t common knowledge,” Bob interrupted, “because we don’t want people to panic.  And the police’ll probably want to talk to everyone that saw the show, we think.”

“Why would they want to do that?”

“Well, to get their eyewitness accounts,” Bob said vaguely.  “To find out exactly what happened.”

“Come on,” Elspeth encouraged, holding out her arm for Mrs Shiers, “let’s leave these lot to it and get a stiff drink.”

“In light of the situation,” Mrs Shiers conceded, “that doesn’t sound like a completely terrible idea.”

Book Two Excerpt

Katie nodded officiously and scurried away to carry out her orders.  The manager, whose name was Bob Taylor, ran his fingers anxiously through his receding hair and with a deep breath, marched across the foyer to talk to seat G15 in person.

“Mrs Shiers-” was all he got out before her tirade shot forth.

“What was that, Mr Taylor,” she shrilled in tones that had spent years being cultivated into a semblance of Jean Brodie, “some keynd of joke?”

“I can assure you it was not,” Bob began, but she ignored him.

“If that is the case, I can assure you it was not in the least bit entertaining.”

“No, well-”

“This theatre has been going downhill for several months now,” she continued.  “The shows you get in are poorly advertised and of poor quality-”

“Mrs Shiers I-”

“- don’t interrupt me Mr Taylor, that’s extremely rude!”  She glared at him over the top of her varifocals with undisguised menace.  “As I was saying, the shows are terrible, a fact of which you must be aware given that nobody comes to see them – ”

“I wouldn’t say nobody, exactly – ”

“There were twelve people in the audience this evening, Mr Taylor,” she informed him crisply, “I know because I counted.  And two of them left during the interval.”

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