Category Archives: Novel writing

Create Your Style Guide [Editing Tips]

Welcome to a new and busy week. I thought I would give some editing tips every day this week, of course, some of this will have been covered before but  I think it’s always useful as a reminder.

So hands up who uses a Style Sheet or Style Guide when they write?Do you even know what one is? 

A style sheet is a list setting out the decisions that your editor has made on aspects of the layout and language of your document, in order to keep the document consistent.

This is a really useful thing, especially if you intend to write this as part of a series and so how you do something in one book must be consistent across books as well as within the book.

As you come to edit your work you don’t just focus on the shape of the story and if it works, on filler, character development etc. When it comes to the nitty gritty bits of the narrative don’t just focus on the flow of the language and the construction of the sentences either, you have to think about how you represent things. So, for example, do you use a hyphen in ‘no-one’ like that or ‘no one’, both are acceptable. Which of the OK or okay forms do you use (ok is not generally an accepted form). Do you write -ise in words like recognise or realise OR the more US form of recognize/ realize and how is this in other forms of -ise/ize words. Do you use capitals in some of your expressions, like the Magic Sword, the Golden Knife. Do you capitalise the East and the West? Do you use a capital in Professor? University… here I would say unless part of the official address, his name, the university’s name then use a small letter — get the idea? US or UK spelling?

By writing these things down you can create a guide so you don’t have to remember because, inevitably, you will use forms interchangeably. The sheet helps you create consistency — which is key here. For a final edit/proof, it’s vital, especially if you plan to self-publish. But to submit you also want to show the highest level of professionalism. It’s very rare I am sent a ms with the writer’s own style guide but it happens from time to time and it shows me they appreciate this aspect is important.

 

It might include notes on what font is used, whether the text is left or fully justified, how particular words are capitalised or hyphenated, how much indent your indented quotations have, what is put in italics.

Especially if you’ve learned English as a second or other language, you will know that the English language is not consistent, and it doesn’t even have proper rules for some things! This can be really frustrating, as two people might do things in two different ways, BOTH of which are correct.

For example, in English …

  • We can use -s- spellings or -z- spellings in words like “organisation”
  • We can capitalise or not capitalise words like Chapter 1 or experiment 2
  • We can hyphenate or not hyphenate pairs of words like policy-maker

 

And that’s before you get to decisions like …

 

  • Are you going to use 20%, 20 percent or twenty percent?
  • Are you going to describe America as America, the United States, the US, the USA, the U.S. etc. etc.?
  • Are you going to use double inverted commas for quotations and single inverted commas for concepts, or vice versa?
  • Are you going to refer to other research as (Brown, 2003; Green and Jones, 2005, p. 23) or (Brown 2003, Green & Jones 2005:23) or any other variant

 

Now, the important thing with all of these is to keep it consistent.

 

More editing tips tomorrow!

editing cartoon

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Friday Writing Prompt

Inspired by my talk last weekend, and thinking about the close interaction between fact and fiction, here’s a prompt for you.

Take a key moment in history; so something that ‘literally’ stopped the world, not just your world, so let’s say, as is the case in my novel, the death of a president, maybe 911, Diana’s death, Elvis… ? and then write a short piece of ‘alternative history’ as if it never happened. So you will need to use fictitious characters perhaps or make it a memoir piece where the event affected you, but now let us see what happened if something else happened instead… So, for example, JFK Airport used to be called Idlewild and, in fact, this is the name of Mark Lawson’s alternative history novel, if Kennedy had not died as he did and make him the icon he is, would the airport still be called that? In fact, that is the case in this novel; Kennedy is still alive years later. Perhaps juxtapose what might have happened with what did happen, so some of you might even want to write two versions…? I will leave that to you! Allow your imaginations to run wild… and not be idle! See what I did there 🙂 Groan!

Happy Writing!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Being YOU!

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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/

 

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In The Spotlight: Amanda James

Mandy James April 2017

 

I have great pleasure in welcoming the very talented Amanda James back to my blog to share her latest writing news… and to interview the protagonist of her fantastic new novel Behind the Lie that was out for Kindle on Friday.

This is part of Amanda’s busy blog tour so I am delighted she found time to pop over to mine!

Look where she’s been and where she’s going!

Blog Tour Mandy James

I met Amanda through Bridge House Publishing when we published her short story in our charity book for Born Free. It’s a collection of wild animal stories, and of all our collections remains a landmark success. We launched at the Hay Festival in 2010 with the wonderful Virginia McKenna. What a day. Amanda got to read at the festival. I have since followed Amanda’s career as she has gone from success to success.

Friday (just gone) saw the release of another novel and so I asked her to do something a little different. So we have an exclusive over here today. But first let me tell you a little more about Amanda.

 

She lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the beautiful coastline near her home. In fact, three of her novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and the new one Behind the Lie – April 2017 published by HQUK ( HarperCollins).

So in an exclusive, I asked Amanda if she would interview her protagonist, Holly, for me and this is what happened…

So to set the scene… a beach house overlooking a windswept beach in Cornwall. We are on the balcony drinking tea and watching the Atlantic waves hurl themselves at the shore. We are huddled in thick sweaters, because even though it is spring, the wind is Arctic.

So, I thought we’d have a little Q&A session, is that okay? It will be fun. Please tell me your name?

The young woman sitting opposite gives me an incredulous look, her eyes reflecting the blue of the ocean.

Humour me.

You know my name, but okay, I am Holly West.

Tell me what you’re most afraid of?

Holly sighs and takes a sip of her tea. She watches at a kite surfer but I can tell she sees something else. She wrests a strand of golden hair from the wind and tucks it behind her ear. Eventually she looks back at me.

People thinking that I’m not telling the truth, that I am still the woman I used to be.

Why so sad? What has happened to you?

There is no hesitation this time.

So much has happened in such a short time …When my childhood sweetheart left for the army, I left too. I moved from my village in Cornwall to be a model in London. Caught up in everything that goes with such a glamorous life, I was lost, alone…disgusted with the person I became. But then I met Simon and he helped me turn my life around. I was so happy when we married and I fell pregnant with twins but then my son died. Well, that’s what they told me, but I know he’s alive.

What do you want most from the world?

A sad little smile turns up one corner of her mouth.

That’s easy. To find my boy, make a life for us all back in Cornwall and to just live an ordinary life.

What will happen if you don’t get it?

Her expression grows dark and the clouds roll over the sun.

I can’t think about that… I won’t think about it.

Is there something about you the reader never finds out about you, Holly?

There are secrets about me that only you know, Amanda…

 

 

Want to know what happens? This is it…

Behind the Lie Cover

Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.

Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Buy me! 

Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Author links – Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter  @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33

 

I don’t know about you but this has certainly whet my appetite… so do download a copy… thanks, Amanda, and we wish you great success with this! Thanks for being in the spotlight today!

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Countdown 1

An extract from a story that was never published but got a distinction in my MA… it uses in places film script for the narrator’s own life and later film treatment so it’s experimental. This is just a taster…

 

film-16mm-metalcannister-1500-b1d98797db2d1550ab31a1adb16744d5

Director’s Cut

Arnold Pepper makes his way slowly across the lot, a black trilby perched on an angle, tapping out time with a hickory walking cane. At the corner he stops, feels for the edges of the sealed manila envelope in his breast pocket. It beats like a second pulse. He checks the time on a watch that stopped fifty years ago, runs his fingers along the inscription and thinks about endings.

“Nothing lasts forever, Arnie,” he hears. He teases a tissue from his pocket and catches the memory.

Connie holding his hand.

Connie looking into his eyes.

Connie walking away.

He drags his thoughts back to the fate of Christian Black. His greatest creation: the revered hero of Millennium Pictures.

One question buzzes on peoples’ lips, weaves through speculating minds and folds itself into the LA smog: will they do it? Will they kill Christian Black? And the answer to that is in Arnold Pepper’s pocket.

Arnold looks at the line of perfect trees planted in a world of rubber bricks and hollow facades. Everything that happened, happened right here. Moments captured in frames, the counter starts at 00:00:00:00. He sees it at the corner of everything.

The Arnold Pepper story: a cast of writers, producers, editors, key grips, even stars before they twinkled. His unwitting family. Now most are nameless faces. But not Jimmy Olson, the man with big dreams. Two rookies, two stories, two endings.

The light changes. Aerial shot. Arnold looks at the sun with its cerulean backdrop. Shapes float past like ghosts painting scars on white walls. Hard to capture.

He’s aware of people around him; sound bytes snapping off. A girl laughing, someone yelling, maybe even a dog barking. He tightens his grip on his cane remembering his appointment with destiny: the fate of Christian Black.

Christian Black lived the life he never did. A life told in storyboards. One common purpose: tell the story the audience wants to hear. Love, hope, passion, drama. All the gloss with none of the in between.

He wonders if he could, would he go back and rework his own life the same way, but there are some scripts no one wants to read.

“Hey Mr P, how ya doin’ Sir?”

It’s Jazz, the guy that fetches the mail, lips glossed into a Marilyn Monroe pout, as if he’s kissing air.

“The end of an era,” Jazz says. “So how does it feel?”

Arnold leans both hands on his cane and looks right at him. “You know I started in the mail room,” he says, “did I tell you that, Kid?” He squints, studying the features of Jazz’s face, wondering how he gets his bleached hair to stand up like quills.

“Maybe once or twice. The mail boy in like 1857 or somethin’ right?”

Arnold looks at the AIDS pin Jazz wears on his T-shirt. He wants to ask him if his friend is out of the hospital. He says nothing, deletes the scene in his head.

Jazz speaks. “I suppose you’re gonna remind me how you knew them all? Like Bernard G, THE director of all time.” He smiles in wide angle. “Apart from you, of course, Mr P.”

But Arnold’s distracted by group of young actors. They’re talking about his movie. About Christian Black. Every girl’s lover. Every guy’s best friend.

“They filmed two endings,” the girl says.

“Hey, you bored with the mail guy now?”

When he looks back Jazz is standing with his hands rested on his hips. “A lot of memories- huh?”

Too many memories, folded into rolls of film. Curled like sleeping cats.

Arnold remembers the wager he made with himself – he’d give it one day. The job was a favour for his uncle, who was doing a favour for his mother. Now the counter reads sixty years and twenty-six semi-decent movies. So much for wagers.

But everything has an ending.

When he looks back he sees that Jazz is still watching him” No anecdotes about the GREAT Bernard Golden today?” he says, “How you didn’t even know who he was?”

 

FLASHBACK TO: MAY 1951

EXT. FILM STUDIOS – MORNING

SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD GEEK MAIL BOY gets lost on his first day at Millennium Pictures.

BERNARD GOLDEN – handsome dark looks, grey suit, cigarette propped between his lips – watches the MAIL BOY CROSSING THE LOT

BERNARD G

Hey Kid. Come ‘ere

Don’t you know this is a restricted area?

ARNOLD PEPPER – THE MAIL BOY

(looking around nervously)

No Sir. I was just looking for Bernard Golden

BERNARD G

(smirking)

You mean that know it all, arrogant A-hole? You better watch him, Kiddo. He bites.

 

Arnold walks towards the office block, thinks about those that have gone before, but some endings can’t be scripted – like a car taking a bend too fast.

“There’s a hundred ways to tell a story, Kiddo,” Bernie G told him. “But what they’ll remember is how it ended.”

Inadvertently Arnold taps the envelope sat next to his heart.

“It’s what lives in their heads when the popcorn’s rotted.”

“Hey Arnie, you thinking about the good ol’ days?” Jazz’s voice. “You lived the American dream, man.”

The phrase jars, like film despooling.

“The thing about dreams,” Bernie G said, “is if you hold ‘em in your hands too long they burn.”

 

©Debz Hobbs-Wyatt

 

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Countdown

Late blog this morning as was busy early, but just popping in to say have a great weekend all! The countdown begins and next week I will be posting short extracts of some of my published short stories and maybe novel extracts too on here in my own countdown until Friday!

So watch this space folks!

Happy Friday!

dreams-1

 

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Looking ahead and making plans

I have said before that life is all the richer for plans and things to look forward to. Certainly Christmas, for me, brings that feeling although I appreciate it is not the same for everyone. For some, this can be a challenging and sad time of year. I am lucky that I am blessed with many lovely Christmases, although there is still a tinge of sadness as we lose people along the way. I remember one Christmas, a few weeks after Lee died when we still went through the motions of making a Christmas, I was with his family… but it wasn’t the same. Perhaps for them, it will never be the same, for all of us in many ways.

But I still manage to see this as a magical time when I think about people in my life and buy gifts. For me, it’s in the choosing the right thing I find my greatest happiness. We have just about finished the shopping now! Yay! Sunday I will be at a candlelight carol service where Dad sings and I have been asked to do a biblical reading.

I should finish my editing early next week and look forward to a few days just before Christmas of seeing friends and doing some of my own writing! I am also making plans for my work for 2017. I WILL have success and I WILL sell my house and it will be the very best year EVER so far!

So what are your plans?

2017

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