Friday, 7 November 2008

Progress at last!

Even though it has not seemed an outwardly successful week (no job news as of yet), enough progress has been made to make me feel brighter.

When I was at University I interviewed two marvellous people who were, and still are, a successful author / illustrator team. We stayed in touch over the years, even though I am the sort of person that leaves address books in a mucky state, and so, having yet another abode to share, I wrote a letter of news and stuff to send their way. I also asked if they would mind reading through the first chapters of my book (i.e. what I will send out to agents) and share their opinion. Being thoroughly nice, they said they are happy to do that, so I shall send it their way after Christmas. This has given me a new lease of life with the editing and redrafting, as in my mind I am treating them as important agent types, so it has got to be, well, better than it was. And this sort of mild pressure is helping enormously.

The chat I had with good friend I confirmed that I need to bring one character forward and play to my writing strengths. I feel at my strongest when using subtle humour within writing, which probably mirrors the way I tell a story or relate a tale to friends. I do love a good yarn (and incidentally J is the king of a good story – beautiful build ups and killer punch lines that make me laugh and laugh), and so it leaks through into my writing.

I now have added a prologue to the novel as it really seemed to need it, and it has had such an impact. I think the beginning sentence captures attention, and this lasts through the short ride to the last sentence of the prologue, which turns everything on its head. This feels (to me) like the best way in to Chapter One, and I am so happy, as it has set the scene beautifully – not only for this book, but for the other story idea I have in mind which is connected with this, although not a sequel.

So this led me to Chapter One, and it became clear I needed to completely change the first five pages as it seemed to leap all over the place. This was a hard one, as the beginning was the original idea I had for this story, way back in 2004, and I was reluctant to change it. But I had to, and really all I did was whip out those pages so the beginning now makes sense, and then I found I could include the best of those scenes in Chapter Two, where they fitted perfectly.

I have also been editing and taking out various crap I left behind from the first redraft. Sentences like this: ‘She tried to close her eyes again…’ She tried? Were they stuck open with super-glue? Were they stitched to her eyebrows? It is amazingly hard to see such stupid errors sometimes. I think my thought process is a bit dyslexic, as I know what I mean in these instances, but it does come out in a bit of a jumble at times. I am now on Chapter Three, I am happy to report, and I am going through it with new eyes.

Today was also rather good as a magazine feature I wrote earlier this year got published, which means I can finally invoice for it! I was commissioned and submitted it back in July but for various magazine reasons it has only now seen the light of day. Luckily I subscribe to this magazine or I might have missed it! As it is the invoice is winging its way electronically towards west London even now. Handy timing methinks!


idil o. calvero said...

i know an author who has an incredible sense of humour though i don't know whether he does it on purpose or just finds his own mistakes and makes fun of himself while editing. after such a sentence he would add in brackets:

She tried to close her eyes again...(Since it was always her common challange to close them back as they were stuck open with super-glue or stitched to her eyebrows.)

You or he would probably do it perfect. But i think i gave the idea :P

And i just want to try to translate one of the original ones:

"he walked towards the gate along the silent looks of the people (since the noisy ones have not been invented yet)"

or maybe i can just laugh so easily :)

Jayne said...

Haha - oh I do agree - it can be very funny, love your example! It is great fun to play with language like that. There are also quite a few children's book authors who have lots of fun that way - I am thinking back to Graham Oakley's The Church Mice series, such a wonderful set of books, for story and illustrations. Which author do you mean? Whoever it is sounds worth reading!

idil o. calvero said...

caution: this is a late answer

ok. i am not working for his pr staff but i am already pretty jealous since he published his first novel when he was younger than me(i am getting old though-i used to say 'when he was my age').though he laughs at his first novel. here is an english version of his site (ignore the photo :P)

and here is the translation of that first novel. he is not even famous in turkey (my impression: wants to be a long seller?)

but i was too young when i read this book and just lived another life instead of mine.(lifelessons101) so i think i should read the church mice series nowadays. you reminded me alice, lewis carroll makes fun of alice as well. or doesn't he? i am not sure about my favourite childhood books anymore. they all grew politic. what happened to momo?

(next time: dear diary: i am a long comment :))

Jayne said...

Late answers like these are very welcome :)

Thank you for finding the web-link, I have just been reading 'The Religion' and I see what you mean - sentences like

A lovely female voice. An arm reaches out - we venture that it belongs to the same female (for the arm is lovely as well)

There is a really nice understated but teasing sense of humour through his writing.

Graham Oakley's Church Mice are an illustrated series of books for children (and ahem, young at heart adults!) - you can see his illustrations here, if this tiny link works!

I know what you mean about children's books turning political when you grow up... it doesn't seem fair, at the time I just thought they were good stories...