The Tip Jar
Writing, bloody hell. Wish I could give you more insight than an Alex Ferguson misquote, but I know people who can. So here’s a few tips to pass on to whomsoever is interested. Hence the title of this post: Tip – because I’ll pass on some tips for my 2 ½ readers, Jar – because you can buy me pint if anything that follows is of use.
1) Bead Roberts (former tutor at Leicester Writing School) released this tip into the wild during her visit to the Phoenix writers. To whit: If you are trying to portray loneliness in a character, you can infer it through gaps and spaces in their discourse. Incomplete sentences, ramblings, sudden digressions all these are the characteristics of a mind suffering from lack of human contact. The lonely can be truculent, overeager, too loud, awkward around people (i.e. Edmund Dantes in The Man in the Iron Mask, Ben Gunn in Treasure Island).
2) Kate Jonez, editor in chief of the new Omnium Gatherum publishing house rejected my novel while being kind enough to ask me to resubmit if I did three things to the text: a) Cut right down on the use of the passive voice b) Made sure each scene had one Point Of View or that if more than one, changes in POV were kept to a minimum. c) Balance dialogue and action. Much better to have characters doing something than talking heads. Scenes should involve characters doing stuff, not just talking. Obviously this is said in the context of the slab of writing I submitted and the specific requirements of Omnium Gatherum, but using those three criteria has really helped.
3) Bead Roberts again. If you are stuck in a scene, or you want to shake things up, set the place on fire. Then sit back and chuckle as your characters try and put the fire out and/or escape. Ha! Instant jeopardy.
4) Find cupboard, look for skeleton. (BBC’s Get Writing interweb site helped out here) To create a character, imagine you are visiting their house. What is the bathroom like? How many books do they own and what are they about? What’s in the fridge? Leave subtle clues about their lives. Try and write this up as a scene with lots of suspense: the PoV of a burglar breaking in or a detective investigating a crime or a guest that suddenly realizes something is wrong…
Enough for now, I think.