Showing posts from July, 2012

Fifty Shades of No Thank You

The book which is currently flying off the shelves and creating a stir everywhere is by a British author who, inspired by the Twilight novels (which I love) self-published her book, and then saw it become just as successful as the books she was inspired by. Her trilogy has now sold over 31 million copies and been picked up by a major publisher. It's sold on a huge display in the supermarket I shop in. To such I aspire.

But I won't be reading it. The book is "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James and it has sold the way it has because it is, essentially, pornography in print. Most of the book is about the characters (Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele - or Edward Cullen and Bella Swan in Ms. James's original manuscript) having sex. Not just any sex either, but sadism, dominance and other unpleasant and  twisted things.

Now, call me a prude (no, please do, I'm fine with that) but I have never written a sex scene (and never will) because I happen to believe that …

The People Who Bring a Book to Life

Bringing a book to life takes a whole host of very talented people. Here's who they are, and what they do.

Alpha Reader: Reads the first draft of the completed manuscript and gives feedback. In most cases the Alpha reader is the author because most first drafts are pretty terrible and authors don't like anyone else seeing it. The first draft is often just a "getting the ideas on paper" exercise, and the author will then polish it. I tend to just do this once (my second draft being pretty close to the finished product) but other authors may go through many, many drafts.

Beta Reader(s): Reads the manuscript with a critical eye, and gives feedback to the author on things like style, plot, characterisation and even spelling and grammar. Authors may use several beta readers to get a rounded opinion. Beta readers are generally not paid for their work - the payment is getting to read an advance copy of the book, and sometimes a mention in the acknowledgements.

Critique Group: …

"The Jury finds for the Bacon"

Hubby Dearest and I had a jolly adventure this past weekend. We drove 30 miles to the beautiful ancient town of Great Dunmow and, as ambassadors of marriage, took part in a tradition so old that it is referred to in Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale and the even earlier Piers Plowman. In fact, the Dunmow Flitch Trials are rumoured to go back to 1105, although the first recorded winner's name dates from 1445.

The Trials are celebrated every four years in Dunmow. Over the course of a day five couples come before a judge, are cross-examined by barristers, and have to satisfy the Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors that in 'twelvemonth and a day', they have 'not wisht themselves unmarried again'. If they can demonstrate that their marital happiness is such that they are worthy of a prize, they win a flitch. That's half a pig, cut lengthways. 

Prior to the day we'd applied (online) and been interviewed by the Judge. Our prepared statement had been circulated t…

Difficult Writing

One of the tasks I have at work today is to write a press release about the support being offered to the charity I work for by another, larger and much richer, charity. I have to announce this with major fanfare about how delighted we are to be working with them, what exciting new opportunities it offers for both charities as well as those despairing souls we aid, and generally proclaim a new age of harmony, happiness, rainbows and fluffy bunnies. But ... I'm not allowed to actually explain what it is they are doing to help us. Now that's going to be a challenge.

A few months ago I was asked to write a letter of support from a group of friends to another friend who had been wrongly accused of a crime. That wasn't easy either. In fact, I think I gave up in the end and we all expressed our support verbally instead. Over an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, as I remember.

In my writing group a couple of months ago we did an exercise where we had to describe in detail a scene, …

How to Cheat at your Word Count

You know how it is... you've set yourself a goal to write 2,000 words today, and you've barely managed 200. Here's what I did on my work in progress recently to up my word count without actually having to do any of that difficult creative writing stuff.

Put in the chapter divisions. "Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three..." That's six words right there.Start each chapter with a meaningful relevant quote. I have used quotes from the scriptures, from philosophers, theologians, saints, writers and presidents. The longer, the better.Hymn or song lyrics. I'm writing a religious book, and at various stages my characters sing hymns. So I put in all the words they were singing. (Although I've since taken them all out again due to copyright issues and the fact that it got boring reading through all six verses.)Book club questions. This is one of the most fun things to do when writing a book. Think about the issues your book addresses, the changes your charac…