Sunday, May 31, 2009

I could have danced all night.

I'd love to find out why... the myster, the stumbling block, the effervescence of:

Why is it Tuesday I can get up. Same side of the bed. Same face in the mirror. My shoes still fit. Yes. It's definitely me. Not my sister, or my neighbor. It's me. Hello me.
I turn on the computer and sit ready to write but it's flat. Like Coke gets. No matter what I write it's - well let's say you'd be better off going outside and plant weeds.


Wednesday I get up. Same face in the mirror. Same side of the bed. Shoes still fit.
Had a horrible Tuesday and expect to throw it all out and start again. And there it is. The magic. The overnight recovery. It flows like the Niagara. And really works and,

I could have danced all night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Google it...

It took me a long time to remember to Google. It's so quick. So easy.

But I kept forgetting about it. Why?

Dunno. Just not in the habit. Now I am.

In art school they used to use the term "happy accident". At least one of my teachers, a most delightful flamboyant lady (Hungarian) "Call me Olga, Darlings.") did.

I've found happy plot accidents. Bits of information that helped me move a plot in a different direction once I had the knowledge.

Google is a bargain too. Once you pay for your internet provider, it's free. FREE! Nice word that.


There's only one better thing than free.

Wait for it, drum rolling...

A Jimmy Choo 70% of everything sale.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Am I the only one in the world?

It seems to me (that) the ing, comma, ed curse is growing. It gets on my nerves with prolific use. Though it is very common it strikes me as clumsy.

They seem back to front. And for me, spoil the smooth flow of reading. Of course you are free to disagree, but look:

Strolling along the sand, the wind whipped his hair into a tormented frenzy.

Many years ago an old journo (he wasn't really old, I was just really young) advised me of the value of short sentences. I can only assume this is advice from him through me to you.

I'd do a re-write on the above sentence. I think it can do a lot more with a rich selection of sensations.

The sand was wet from a tide just departed. A smooth palette fresh, tempting and waiting for his footprints. And as the wind whipped his hair into a frenzy, he concentrated on the marks he left behind. A dog's leg trail along the beach, soon obliterated by the rogue wave, here and there, defying the tide edge. Life is like that. Temporary, easily erased by an accident of fate.

And I can expand this to a richer image.

The seagulls danced and sqwauked above him. Who is this stranger invading our beach? If he'd had some scraps for them, they'd have complained less, but alas, he would remain an invader of this lonely windy place.

The sentence alone can be re-written. As he walked along the sand, the wind whipped his hair into a frenzy.

But re-thinking 'how can I re-write this sentence, it left me with more images, sensations and a litte more meat than just a mere rearrangement of words and tenses.

Adding sounds, smells, to a text can enhance a mental picture. I don't want to tell, but also to show. Trail subtle mental images through the reader's head like adding thyme and garlic can add subtle flavor to a casserole.

So you want to be an author.

This is from Blogger - Agent Demystified or Miss Snark's First Victim.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How many letters in that?

When you write count how many letters in that.

This will read like the script for Who's on First Base? unless I spell it out for you.

When you edit your manuscript kill 'that' - just shoot them or as many as you can like they are sitting ducks at a shooting gallery in the fun park.

You can in the main live without them.

And now that I have spilled the beans, I will start on the next no no.

Put the word THERE on your hit list.

There is no point in starting a sentence with There.

There was a worm called squish. He got squashed.


A worm called squish got squashed. Isn't that better, more direct and cleaner?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The new book.

So you've worked hard on a manuscript. Turned it into a slick presentable story that if you hadn't edited it soooooooooooooooooooooooooo many times, you'd love to read. You've written THE END. And, as stated, edited to within an inch of its life.

A bit of advice. I had a wonderful editor at one stage and she gave me the most sage advice I think an editor can give. (Strangely now I think of it, a teacher at art school - a sculptor said basically the same thing but back to front. I'll tell you in a minute.)


While the sculptor said:
Keep your first sculpture so you know how awful you used to be. (He was a pessimist. And my marks never quite got over the point of 'could try harder'. I felt the same way about his teaching methods.)

You send off your manuscript to whatever fate is intended for it. And who ever says YES that isn't your mother, magically the thing turns into a book waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down the line - talk year - six months if you really are optimistic.

By that stage you are well into your next manuscript. Agonising over GMC, plot, research. You know all about whatever setting you've chosen, be it history, future, or present. They are a new set of best friends in a new world you are creating. Your intimacy with them is probably as much as you are with yourself. They live inside your head, go with you wherever you go, make you as boring as bat's teeth to be with and when other people are with you they must go:
SNAP! in front of face and say "Zara? Earth to Zara! Anyone at home?"

Then one day a bulky parcel arrives. You don't realise it at first so you dump it on the kitchen bench. Make a coffee, listen to something that distracts you on the radio and only then remember that there's a bulky parcel on the kitchen bench waiting for you. What could it be?


Well, (!!!!) you really really really did forget about it. It's been at least six months but probably more towards a year. You got to loathe it you read it so many times. But here it is. The cover you loved or hated during the editorial stage. The blurb on the back, and the stiffness of unopened pages groaning their way into your life. Out pops the smell of a new book, one of the smells you've loved since you were a kid. This is a solid mass of paper and cardboard you have aimed at with such a labor of love and agony. And the object of which you have set yourself the agony of a subsequent novel.

And it goes - actually goes onto a bookshelf. Other people will read it, enjoy it, misunderstand it. It will attract good comments, bad comments and indifferent comments. Some of the reviews will depress you until you realise that YOU DID IT! They probably didn't do it but YOU DIT IT.


Enjoy it. It's the best feeling in the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh that synopsis!

Synopses make me sleepy. They make my head spin. And I'm convinced that the author should be the last person to make their own synopsis.

The essence of a good Synopsis, in my opinion is a good but not too in depth summary of the manuscript. Keep GMC in mind. Keep characters to a minimum. You don't need to tell every last feeling, or detail. That's just coincidental to the main skeleton of the story. And when I say skeleton, I mean skeleton.

When you see a pretty girl, you say 'she has nice bones'. Yes she does. So should the good synopsis. GMC

in other words - she wants, because, but:

Perhaps a good method is to ask yourself questions.

Who is the heroine?
Who is the hero?

What does she want?
What does he want?

Why does she want it?
Why does he want it?


Let's do a synopsis for Sleepless in Seattle.

Meg Ryan.
Tom Hanks.

Sub characters are the kid, the boring fiance.

What does she want?

She wants to get married and get settled into a happily ever after. She's in a rut and the fiance is as boring as bat teeth.

What does he want?

He wants the hurt to stop. He wants to move on with his life.

But (she)?

She's blind to the man she is living with. He's a mere blob on her horizon. One night she hears a phone call. A little boy trying to sell his father. To find a lady who will make his Dad happy again. She's intrigued because she is slowly understanding herself. That she is about to be buried in a droll lifetime of repetition. So the little boy strikes that chord inside her. The part that makes her eventually write a letter.

But (he)?

He is caught in a web. The radio host is making him say things he never really meant to tell. The loneliness and the agony of a widower. And this in turn is making him realise that he must, for his son's sake, start to make a move on moving on.

There are a lot of distractions here for the synopsis. The best friend trying to convince Meg to write. The kid being cute as. The comparison of the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr movie. But these are distractions. The essence is in the previous paragraphs.

So what happens because?

She is drawn to meet him. She traces him on the computer - it's not hard - no big deal. Gets on a plane goes to meet him but when she finds him he's hugging a woman.
She nearly gets run over, but also realises what a foolish thing she's done. She'd made so many assumptions.

So what happens because?

He sees her nearly get run over and recognises her from an encounter at the airport where, unbeknownst to her, some chemical attraction, thought lost had awakened inside him.

Answers her letter. Arranges a meeting in New York on the Empire State.

Now the emphasis falls onto the lead up to their meeting.

She's joining fiance on a trip to New York to damage control. Not forgetting that it's coinciding with a certain rendezvous the child had arranged on behalf of his father.

Finds out his son has organised himself a trip to New York for a rendezvous with a strange woman.

So what happens? We are at the climax here. The will they won't they?


Can't help herself. She has to rendezvous.


He finds his son. They forget the bag.


Finds the bag. They've gone.


He races back to rescue the bag.

And the ending?

They recognise each other and we have HEA.

So this is the barebones and given that,
how would you write the synopsis?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Google It!

Once I didn't have Google.

Once I didn't use a computer.

Once spell check meant get the dictionary.

Once carbon paper was my copy.

Once White out was my friend.

Once I used the telex machine.

Once file meant a cabinet.

Once there were dinosaurs.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Hoarder

The other day my daughter wrested a cake from my hoarding hands and threw it out. The cake had been given to me by her old flatmate who was a (insert fancy name for fancy pastry chef here) and taught said subject at a career college. It was a fruit cake - traditionally made, complete with brandy soak, marzipan and icing, rosebuds - you know... the kind of thing that somebody plonks a bride and groom doll on top and the wedding planner charges 4,000% of basic cost on top of.

Over the course of a year it lived in my microwave so the ants wouldn't attack it. I picked off a lot of the roses and decorations, and it was a nuisance to have to unload it out of the microwave before I could cook anything but...

I hoard therefore I am.

Yes I hoard. Mea Culpa - a sin for the confessional in which I am sure the priest would give me four Hail Mary's and one Our Father for breaching the 11th commandment:

Thou shalt not hoard.

I have no problem generally with the ten commandments, but you see, the trouble is that Thou shalt not hoard is rarely mentioned.

But ironically this comandment inadvertently made me commit the first one. The biggie. Thou shalt not kill. You see the darn cake was discovered by an ant scout. The word went out and the ant brigade invaded my house and my microwave.

It was like some awful scene out of a horror swarm movie, drunken ants soaked in the juices of a dousing of brandy the microwave looked like it was about to be hijacked.

Wall to wall ants didn't last too long under the onslaught of my can of ant spray. My kitchen tidy became a mass grave for dead ants.

My daughter is on constant alert. She's tossed out any cans dated before 1709 in my pantry. Gone through my freezer and thrown out the Barramundi dated 1968. And I'm too scared to leave the fort in case she comes and tries to throw out my pile of RWA newsletters in the still to be read pile.

I have a theory about hoarders. My mother wasn't. My father used to say, coming to my sister and my own house felt like coming home, because they were always full of my mother's unwanted junk. We are both full-blown hoarders. So my daughter grew up in a clutter environment and isn't a hoarder. If it hasn't been used for six months out it goes. Shauna's kids are the same.

Are you a hoarder? Is my theory sound? I have a friend whose house is so uncluttered you long to see whether it's all in the cupboards and would kill you if you open a door. But then,

Us hoarders are a breed apart.