Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day Five and Six

You don't have to say it - I know there was no cheating in the Bible.  But God wasn't running behind because he had to share a computer so I'm catching up the best way I can!

Day Five and Six in Eden saw the creation of all the animals and finally man.

I made a man too.  Not in my image of course but one that I wouldn't mind finding hanging out in my garden sans loincloth.  An extremely alpha French chef.  I took Gordon's Ramsay's talent and quite a bit of his arrogance, added Gilles Marini's accent and those dark brown eyes *le sigh* and then some of Eric Christian Olsen's hair (all dark blonde and unruly-ish) slapped it together and threw it on a Harley (yes I created them on the sixth day too)! 

And while it's easy to 'make' a man physically, fleshing him out is quite another feat altogether.  That old saying that a man is more than just the sum of his parts is very true.  I'm getting to know him via my heroine and by writing through the story (aka writing lots of guff that will be pared back to the bone or hardly used at all) I'm working out how to introduce and resolve their individual and combined conflicts in 50k words.

I was a tad blocked today but I wrote through it and I think I'm back on track.

Oh and just a side note - Eve didn't make an appearance until after Day Seven when God had rested. 

No, no pictures of a half-naked Gilles - something much sexier: a tall man with a french accent, dancing.  Oh be still my beating heart *swoon*.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day Four

On the fourth day there was a great light.  And Elissa did call it an "aha moment". 

The Good Book tells us on the fourth day God created the sun and the moon and the stars to separate day from night and to mark seasons and the passage of time.

So more washing up and more thinking and I decided to totally re-write from about chapter four onwards.  I mapped it out and sucked.  I had a very busy day yesterday: appointments, errands and meetings and the fact my deadline is only days away and I'm having all theses revelations about the characters and the plot line and the conflict issues being resolved (or not) means that I really am no where near ready to finish this baby.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up - just realising that what everyone has been saying about how hard editing can be is true.  But the fact it's hard and that I'm finding all these issues with my work shows me something else - that I know more than I did a year ago.  Back then I would have probably already sent this ms off, thinking it was a pretty hot dish with an outstanding chance of being published.  Now?  Well now I'm applying all my research and I hope that my end product will be much better for it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day Three

Yes I know - technically this is Day Four but hey the Big Man upstairs took some time to get his achievements down on paper so I don't think a 24 hour time lag is such a big deal!


On the third day Elissa did realise that she had completely messed up the middle and if she wanted her Hero to be a three dimensional character and actually have his conflict all sorted out by the end of the book then she was going to have to do some serious cutting.  So Elissa did call for the good stuff to be separated from the bad stuff.  And Elissa said let the bits happen at the end of the manuscript come forward and let the bits that come after be cut and removed from sight.  And she called the good bits The Right Part and the other bits some words that can't be repeated.  And Elissa saw that it was better.  Not great.  Maybe good.  But definitely better.  And the good bits did yield new ideas for a better ending.

According to the Good Book on the Third Day God separated the land from the seas and gave them names and then called forth the first plants into being.  Me?  I did lots of writing and then whilst doing the washing up last night (primetime for thinking folks) I realised that if I kept going the way I was, this book was going to be WAY too long. So then I started thinking about why it was so long and of course I realised that it was because I was writing 'filler'.  The stuff that pads out that saggy middle.  Rambling.  Nice enough but not good enough.  I needed to change things and the Hero was bothering me - the heroine is torturing him nicely, making him rethink his life and decisions but there's this deeper issue and it just wasn't going to get resolved if I kept going the way I was.  So..........back to the creationist blackboard so to speak.

More detergent, a couple of stubbornly stained pots later and voila!  I needed to bring events forward so he has the last third of the book to address that issue (with the heroine's 'assistance' aka interference of course).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day Two

On the second day Elissa separated the sucky sort of ending she had written from the rest of the manuscript.  And Elissa made another document into which she pasted the thousands of words she had written in error.  And she called it Cut Material and it was truly sucky (with some not so sucky bits that she will probably use later).  And even though it was exceedingly difficult to click on 'cut' she did it and then saw that it was good.

Biblically God separated the waters on Day Two and I cleft my manuscript in twain.  It was not easy clefting but it was a much needed cleft and it is liberating to now have all that white space begging me to fill it up with scribble erudite composition!

Photo courtesy of

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day One

In the beginning Elissa created the manuscript.  And the manuscript was without an ending and rubbish writing was entrenched in the deep.  And Elissa said Let there be an ending.  But in order for there to be an ending much middle-ing needed to be recreated and that was good. 

Small deviation:  Scientists are estimating that in between Genesis Chapter 1 Verse 1 and Verse 2 approximately 10 billion years elapsed (that's in between creating the universe and creating Earth) so I would just like to point out that in relation to that kind of time span, my teensy weensy lapse in my deadline is not so big.

So on the first day God created Night and Day and on my first I created a new middle.  Well part of the new middle.  A good bit of it, actually.  Tweaked a few things here and there.  Wrote a whole new part and cut several other parts out.

All in all, an inspiring start.  It doesn't rank anywhere up there with Night and Day I grant you, but it's a good start.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Beginnings, Solid Middles and Super Endings

Okay so I'm batting 0 for 3.

I have a so-so beginning.  I thought it was great.  (Don't you always?) but after reading it countless times I'm convinced I can do better, and if I think that, of course an editor will too, won't they?  Of course they will!  So I need a better beginning.

The Girlfriend's Book Club is doing a very interesting set of posts at the moment on beginnings with a nice one about six must-have elements for a successful beginning.  I think I have them all.  But who knows about the voice one - I think I have a voice but is it like when you're tone deaf and think you're the next Celine Dion and you can't tell that you're not because you' guessed it....tone deaf?

Okay so I need to tweak the beginning three chapters.

A Solid Middle.  No can do.  I'm sagging here like one of those Biggest Losers after the weight loss when you look at them and think, yep with clothes on you look pretty good, much better than before.  But you KNOW that hidden underneath the clothes is all that floppy skin, previously stretched taut by unwanted, unhealthy fat but at least it padded out the skin.  Now the fat is gone the skin just hangs there and the only thing that's going to move it is a scalpel.  After highlighting all the 'fat' that padded out the middle of my ms and losing it, I'm left with sad, floppy skin.  I know what I have to do - attack it with a scalpel and then pilates the heck out of it so it's all toned and rippling muscle.  You know the kind that you just want to run your fingers down - the kind when you're reading the middle of someone else's book and you don't even realise you're in the middle until you almost at the end and then your Writer's Brain kicks in and goes: "Hey!  We missed the middle!"  That kind.

Tweak the beginning
Tighten up the middle

A Super Ending.  Hmmmmm.  I'm sure I'll be able to nail this one.  You know, when I actually do it.  Write the ending that is.  Yep, you heard right.  I haven't written it yet.  It's not that I don't know how it ends.  I do.  I just can't bear the thought of it 'ending'.  I think that's the worst bit of a good book.  Not knowing what comes next.  All the How To Guides categorically state there's nothing worse than including mundane details of a character's life but you know in a good book I'd happily read 421 pages of washing up and ironing and cleaning and inane chatter with the neighbours if it meant the book didn't finish and my connection to those wonderful characters wasn't at an end.

Tweak the beginning
Tighten up the middle
Write a super ending.

And it all needs to be done in 7 days.  Which instantly brings to mind (well mine anyway) Genesis - the biggest creation story EVAH!  So over the next seven days I hope to bring you my version (without offending too many people I hope!).  Fingers crossed I can do it.  While you're waiting, watch Ricky Gervais talk about Genesis:

Excuse the language - but he is a funny bloke!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Not intentionally but with good reason.

A combination of wanting to work on the ms as well as take out some time to spend with someone very important to me.

But I'm back and despite being WAY behind on my self-imposed deadline, I'm still keen to see if I can whip this baby into shape by the end of the month.

Hear that?  It's my WIP taunting me so I'm off to pick up that gauntlet it's thrown down and slap it around the moosh with it a few times and maybe inflict a few flesh wounds (aka lop off a few thousand words).

But if it threatens to wave its private parts at my Aunty, there's no telling what I might do!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's The Deal?

Random things occur to me at the oddest of times.  This is one of them.

Men have A Package.  If you haven't heard of this term before check it out on Urban Dictionary for a full description.

So now we're all on the same page: Men have A Package.  What do women have?

*Cue lightbulb moment for Elissa whilst doing housework and pondering storyline for future book*

Aha.  Women have The Deal. 

And you know what, the cool thing about having The Deal is that it's completely subjective.  If you think what you have is The Deal, then it's The Deal.  And by The Deal I mean the whole boob/butt/leg thing because those are the three main areas men express a preference for.  Women will tell you they're a Hands Girl, or a Butt Girl, or an Eyes Girl. There are Smile Girls and Sense of Humour Girls, Witty Girls and Height Girls.  In fact there are probably just as many Girls as there are attractive features.  But men, they keep it simple:  Boob Man, Butt Man or Leg Man.  The only men who say they are Beautiful Soul Men are being interviewed for a women's magazine or trying to get into your pants!

So back to The Deal.

Women come in all shapes and sizes and The Deal celebrates them all.  But there are people out there who will try and confuse you about The Deal so I have compiled a little cheat sheet for you.  Now you can talk The Deal like a pro and never utter a Deal faux par again.

Sweet Deal: When a gal gets all gussied up for a night out or whatever.
Raw Deal: What you see at a nudist beach.  Or a nightclub.  Or a music video.
Seal The Deal:  What Heidi Klum's husband does.
Deal Breaker: Chocolate.  Donuts.  Deep Fried Mars Bars.  Ice Cream.  Cheesecake.  Fudge.  Alcohol.  Any substance that causes The Deal to lose it's "i-Deal-ness"
Closing The Deal:  What happens when a woman dies.
Deal With (insert name): Doin' the nasty with someone ie Oh I could totally Deal with Pete!
Deal or No Deal: The eternal question that flits through a girl's mind as she contemplates going on a diet/detox/fitness regime
A Better Deal: What a gal has after her diet/detox/fitness regime
Big Deal: A gal who believes her Deal is "da bomb" ie Listen here, Mr Clooney, I'm a Big Deal! or Get your act together Georgie or you'll lose the Biggest Deal of your life!
Deal Finder: A man.
A Done Deal: An overly tanned woman.
Cut a Deal: What plastic surgeons do for a living.
Dirty Deal: 1. A woman who desperately needs a shower, or
                    2. A gal who's feeling a bit naughty (reference: Christina Aguilera's song Dirrty)
Package Deal: Do I really need to explain this one?
Square Deal: A nerdy or geeky gal.
Shady Deal: A gal who's had some surgical assistance in improving her Deal.
Blow The Deal: 1. When a guy totally messes up in the process of trying to ask a gal out, or
                           2. Yes.  That.
International Deal: A gal who's not from around here.
Online Deal: A gal who's addicted to her computer (see also Square Deal).
No Deal: A gal with low self-esteem who desperately needs her friends to take her shopping and a night out and convince her she's a Big Deal (see above).

And there you have it.

The Deal.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In The Footsteps Of Giants

I mean that in a literary sense.  Not a physical one.  Please remember that as you read.

I'm trying lots of things to improve my writing and this is just one of them, but omigosh what an eye-opener.  Grab a couple of your favourite author's books (I did this with Maisey Yates' The Inherited Bride and Nicola Marsh's Deserted Island Dreamy Ex) and type out their first chapter.  Just into a blank document.  Yes it takes a while but, trust me, the results are worth it.

What I learned:
  • Punctuating dialogue - I used to be okay at this but somehow I lost the knack.  I found that nothing can drive home the principles of punctuation like copying someone who already mastered it.  It was a lightbulb moment for sure;
  • How long is a chapter (approximately) - I used the old method of approximately X words to a line, Y lines to a page, Z number of pages to a chapter and then applied that to my documents but I was way out.  Now I have a better idea and can rewrite accordingly;
  • How often adverbs are used and where - extremely valuable lesson.  While you can pick them out when you do a multiple reading of a chapter (See my post The Perfect First Chapter) it's something else when you're typing it out and really seeing how you can write without using them in every single sentence.
  • Dialogue tags - I'm addicted to the "he screamed, she whispered quietly, he roared fearfully" type of writing and so I have to constantly remind myself that writing can be done and done really well without all that guff.  A really great lesson in showing and not telling by copying;
  • Breaking some rules - after I finished typing out the first chapter I ran it through spellcheck which of course comes up with passive sentences and fragments of a sentence etc and I could see that sometimes it is okay to break some of the rules as long as it's done well.  You can't write an entire book in fragments but you can write some of your heroines thoughts in fragments - because that's how we think sometimes; not in grammatically correct, BBC English.
I would recommend copying a few chapters from different authors so you get the maximum benefits of learning from people who have actually been through an editing process and been published as well as different styles of writing.

N.B.  Please remember that these chapters are covered by copyright.