Category Archives: credibility

Self Editing: Eveything you need to know

I had planned a post at some point similar to this, but when I read the talented Sharon Zink’s page I decided to share it.

Sharon is an amazing writer and I have had her on my blog. She also does the same job as me in that she offers manuscript appraisals; the same level of detail.

So I decided to share this link because it really is a masterclass in writing and everything on here is exactly the kind of thing I say to clients all the time when I assess their manuscripts…

Take heed fellow scribes!

I am now about to write the homecoming chapter on Pelicans… this is exciting, it’s the final chapter when we reveal the last of the missing pieces… and it’s raining so I am loving the sounds of rain on the roof as I write! The morning goes pitter patter… ❤

Have a wonderful day everyone!

http://sharonzink.com/writing-tips/all-first-drafts-are-sht-so-heres-a-masterclass-on-self-editing/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Acceptance, Acknowledging who we are and why we write, Back-story, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believe, Change as a function of character, Character Arc, Character development, Character names, Characterisation, Cliches, Conflict, Copy Editing Quick Note Series, Copy Editing Quick Notes, credibility, Critique, Dialogue, Editing, Exposition, Fiction Clinic, Find a Publisher, Find an Agent, Flashback, Flawed characters, Inspiring Others, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Live your writing dream, Mainstream Fiction, making money from writing, narrative devices, Never Give Up, Novel writing, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Plot, Point of View, principles in writing, Proofing, Publishing, Publishing Contracts, Reach your potential, Reading, Research, Rules in writing, Securing an agent, Self-Publishing, Story, Story Arc, Story Arcs, Story hooks, Story Shape, Story Structure, Structure, Submission, Subplots, Subtext, Succeeding, Success, The Publishing Priocess, thoughts in fiction, Uncategorized

When the self-doubt creeps in…

I was asked how I dealt with doubt. How I dealt with writing something and then thinking it’s pants and wanting to abandon it. What should you do?

Great question from Daniel.

How do we deal with doubt?

Well, self-doubt is another part of process, trust me — and before we start having regular acceptances and even when we do, we all doubt in our ability. We might have friends, writing groups etc.saying this is great but nothing we do finds the work the validation we seek and it’s tough. So there is doubt in a general sense and since rejection is part of process all you can do on that one is to keep writing and keep getting advice — and keep writing. Oh and keep writing. Work through the doubt much as you work through the pain of exercising on top of aches and pains from yesterday’s exercise! It does get easier as you shape up the muscle!

But how about when you are in a project, something like a novel that seems to be going well and then you think — this isn’t working. Start over?

It’s a hard one. I don’t tend to abandon short stories or novels, but I do leave them to rest if they really don’t feel as if they’re working, right now at this time. And often something happens that makes me go back and then usually the distance from it  enables me to see what direction it wants to take. But there are a couple of older short stories I probably won’t go back to. Sometimes you really do have to let go. But if that inner part of you says this is a great premise, worth fighting for, go back and you might be amazed what happens.

The trick is being discerning enough to know something won’t work and time to say bye-bye and knowing when it has that extra something that will get it noticed but either you are not ready to write it or it needs time to settle. And again I truly believe that writer’s instinct will develop the more you write and you will just know. I know I Am Wolf, my feral child novel, has something. I sense it. But I also knew it wasn’t holding together as it should, so when my agent told me what I knew, it proved my instincts were correct. I won’t abandon it, I will allow it to sit and I know when I do come back to it I will find a way to fix it.I just know it is a story that needs to be told. I just need a way to make the reader connect to Amy. She needs time in rehab and then I will go back to her.

Self-doubt has crept in recently with Isle of Pelicans as I still fear the plot isn’t quite there and has challenged me the whole way. So I want to get this draft down (that is always a good feeling) so I can rest it and work on something new now and then come back to it. But I will come back to this one.

What helped me last week deal with doubt was writing a completely new short story that refueled by obsession with writing and it worked. If you haven’t written a short for a while you have this crazy notion you have forgotten how. I know it sounds insane. So now I feel better and the story has been subbed.

Allow stories time to rest and reexamine, but if in doubt write something new. And if it really isn’t working, know when to let go. Nothing is wasted because it’s all part of a long but rewarding process and patience is essential for a writer.

But don’t keep starting one thing and then abandoning it for another or you won’t finish anything. If you get to that stage, take a complete break and don’t write anything for a short time. I don’t tend to do that, but I do know there are times when the words come and the stories work and other times when they don’t. IT’S NORMAL!

Well as normal as life can be for those of us who live inside our own heads!

This is very apt.

Self doubt

Whatever you do — don’t give up!

HAPPY THURSDAY ALL!

Leave a comment

Filed under Acceptance, Acknowledging who we are and why we write, Banish self-doubt when you write, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believe, Believing, Blogging, credibility, Critique, I Have A Dream ..., ideas, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Loss, Love, Mainstream Fiction, Never Give Up, Novel writing, Openings, Pace, Page turnability, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Rejection, Self actualisaion, Succeeding, Success, Success is not about money, The Law of Attraction, The Writer's Imagination, thoughts in fiction, time to think, Why we write, Writing

Rochester LitFest Rocks!

Don't forget to book your tickets! October 1st in Kent!

 

I had a great night last night. It was my first appearance at a literary festival and I hope not my last!

The venue the Nucleus Cafe is a trendy arts cafe in Chatham. If I lived closer I have a feeling the kind of place I’d be meeting writer friends! My north Wales writer friends would love it! I think Jaye has done a great job with this new festival that only started last year. Check out the website here: www.rochesterlitfest.com

 

Nucleus Arts Cafe, Chatham

The Venue (sorry slightly blurry photo taken by me!)

I wrote to a few festivals when I knew I was moving back to the south east proposing a talk about ‘Blurring the Lines between fact and fiction’. Jaye Nolan who organises the festival said yes, it fit her other talks and the rest I guess is history (literally!). I want to thank her for all her tremendous efforts and again if I was closer I would certainly like to be involved and help out. I will try to do more next year, perhaps spend the week with my brother so I can offer my support to the writers etc.

Jaye is pictured here (centre) at the event last night

Photo by Bill Gooch -- official photographer for the event, thanks Bill!

Photo by Bill Gooch — official photographer for the event, thanks Bill!

 

I hadn’t given this particular talk before, although I have talked about the subject matter a lot and it was part of my MA dissertation, how fact and fiction are not opposite ends of a spectrum but intimately woven into the fabric of how we tell stories. ‘Factual account’ — uses wiggly in the air finger thing — are often biased, spun from yarns, filled with opinion and conjecture while fiction does what it says on the tin and is created from imagination but needs fact for authenticity, right?

The venue was intimate and being a great fan of the coffee-shop culture (not enough of that on Canvey Island) it worked well for the talk. The first half I felt was slightly less coherent as I did jump about a little in subject, although the audience were kind and receptive and I felt enjoyed it from the great reaction in the break. The second half was more focussed and more engaging. By then everyone had relaxed, we’d chatted and everyone wanted to interact so having thrown out the odd question it then became really interactive and I think it worked well. So I think I need more of that in the first half when I do this again. I am wondering about hosting an event on Canvey — ideas machine now flowing!

I loved meeting the people, some readers, some also writers and I already see friend requests and followers on Twitter, so I hope to have made some new friends!

Another photo thanks to Bill -- do check out his FB page here:  LINK

Another photo thanks to Bill — do check out his FB page here: LINK

 

I am still buzzing from the event and the engaging conversation and I can’t wait to do it all again!

It’s been a crazily busy few days since my move, so busy I can not wait for a couple of days just to relax. I have worked this week too although not written but my plan is to do a rare thing and take tomorrow off after my workout as I have a full day at the Southend Book and Art Fair this Saturday. And next week will be a normal working and writing week, which I need! I also seem to have a short story buzzing like a fly inside my head — perhaps one for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize I wonder …

So I will leave you with the last two photos from Bill Gooch, and will share some my brother took next week!

Thanks again to Jaye and the festival for having me!

Chatman 3 2014 Chatman 2 2014

Clearly making an important point!

 

Thanks Rochester LitFest!

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under 50th Anniversary Kennedy Assassination, 50th anniversary of Kennedy Assassination, a book deal, Bath Short Story Award, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believe, Believing, Blogging, Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Book Tour, Conflict, Conflict in fiction, Conspiracy Novels, Creating fictional worlds, Creative Non-fiction, credibility, finally being signed, ideas, In the Spotlight, Indentity, JFK50, John F Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy Assassination, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Mentor, Never Give Up, Non Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Psychological Thriller, Publishing, Publishing Contracts, Reach your potential, Reading, Real events that inspire fiction, Rochester Lit Festival, Rochester Literary Festival, Social networking, Truth in Fiction, While No One Was Watching, Writing

Getting into Character

I find myself this week back in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco and then climbing the dizzying heights of Pacific Heights and down to Pier 39. Contrasting neighbourhoods. No I have not jetted off to the states again (more’s the pity) but am back in the minds of Frank and Richard in the next novel. It’s already had a fair polish but needs some overhauling and the ending is in my head but not on a page. So here I am back there. What these characters are telling me is I know Frank’s voice really well (ex con, hard but soft) and Rich is more of a challenge as he is a bit of a bumbling prof recovering from a mental breakdown.

So for me to be suddenly back with these guys feels like a real treat. I have done a lot of work on this one but now I think it’s time to get to sorted. It’s pacey and psychological this one, darker too.

Because I’ve been to San Francisco a few times, one in particular on a fact-finding mission for this book, I feel more comfortable than perhaps I Am Wolf where I have never been to Alaska or Moscow. One of things we did in San Francisco five years ago (see I said I had been working on this for a while) was walk in Golden Gate Park, ride the amazing carousel that is in the novel and wonder where a body might be found near the carousel. Yep really. But what you can’t capture from Google earth are smells and the feel of the place. So I also had my notebook and asked what scents I could pick up on — get a feel for the place in the early morning. What I love about San Francisco is the fog, very atmospheric, right?

So I must leave you now to get back into character. While Frank has his issues — and so does Rich although I think your sympathies are with him from the get-go, Frank is the likeable rogue  and so I hope all of that comes across. Well — I will have to make sure it does. Being a writer is like being a character actor.

 

AlcatrazIsland

Have a great Wednesday, y’all!

Leave a comment

Filed under Acknowledging who we are and why we write, being a successful writer, Believe, Believing, Blogging, Change as a function of character, Character Arc, Character development, Creating fictional worlds, credibility, Crime Writing, Dreamers never disappear, Dreaming, Editing, Endings, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Pace, Page turnability, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Psychological Thriller, Publishing, Reach your potential, Reading, Real events that inspire fiction, Sense of place, Setting, Success, Success is not about money, The Publishing Priocess, The Secret, The Writer's Imagination, Theme, time to think, Tone, Truth in Fiction, Winning, Write What You Know, Writing, Writing a Psychological Thriller

Credibility

I seem to have said this word a far amount of late, so thought I would give a brief mention this chilly January morning!

Even if you write fantasy, explore new realities in Sci fi, create mythical creatures this still applies — because no matter the genre, your story needs credibility.

This is established by creating the rules if the fictional world is not of this world, and if the story is set in reality then we know the rules, but you will still create them for your  characters. So if a character does something quite bizarre, the signs have to be there, it has to feel credible for this particular character. Rules have to be there, and you make them as you write, even if you don’t think about that.

Sometimes we get carried away with what we let happen to our characters and I find myself saying– really? That’s enough to make that character do that? No way that character would ever be brave enough to do that, no, I’m sure the police would never do that — get my drift?

The latter is a case of checking facts, and with the internet even that is a lot easier these days, but make sure the source is reputable, and you’ve checked the fact in a book or it’s verified from several sources. Reading is a vital part of writing,as you know. But what people often don’t think about is what motivates the character for action.

This is vital so as you plot you need to build in events, memories, actions that make the resultant behaviour of a character plausible — hence credible. If it’s a step too far the reader will know it.

I have been playing with some plot issues these past few days with the latest novel, a  challenge setting a story partly in a place I’ve never been, Moscow, and unsure of the kinds of procedures universities in Russian might implement with regards to a feral child! That said I have done my research — and here comes the thing — if the information is not there  i.e. you create a fictional situation that is ‘unusual’ then you may have more leeway to use your imagination.

This is where you play the ‘but this is fiction’ card and so long as it feels plausible, you will ‘probably’ get away with it. And I say probably because make sure you don’t stretch possibility too far, make it feel right and people will buy into it.

I had to do this in While No One Was Watching, since one of my first-person narrators is a psychic, and for some, gaining information through insights and visions, may have felt ‘incredible’. I was careful (and remember I did talk to a psychic and research this) to ensure the reader bought into this. And Lydia didn’t always get it right, the facts came through in stunted ways so it was controlled and since everyone seems to love Lydia I think I got this balance right — and someone who could have been an ‘incredible’ character has been loved for feeling so real — great, that’s what I wanted.

If you stretch credibility too far, you could lose your reader, so take heed!

So today I will be re-examining my plot issues … it’s really important to get this right.

Have a great day all!

The new cover for the second edition!

The new cover for the second edition!

Leave a comment

Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, credibility, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing