Sunday, 26 June 2011

Back on Track

I hope I'm not being premature with this but I'm feeling back on track with the novel.

There came a point where I was feeling that all I was doing was hitting my head against a brick wall. Everything I read I thought inferior and needed a rewrite and then those new attempts were equally bad. But I knew deep down that there was nothing wrong with any of it. Sure, there were a couple of sentences here and there that could be taken out, a phrasing a little clumsy but overall the writing did what was needed: It told the story. The problem was originating from my outlook and emotional state and from nothing else.

Admittedly, I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to finish these novels. I've been working on them a long time and I'm more than eager to send them out into the world and see what happens. But they're just not ready yet. A few more months and they will be but I'm not about to throw all this hard work away just because I got impatient near the end.

But sometimes I'm trying so hard to write these beautiful sentences that I'm neglecting their main purpose which is to communicate the story from the page right into people's heads with as little effort as possible. Read George Pelecanos or Elmore Leonard. Their writing styles are very stripped down but they always get the point across, making it as simple as possible to form that image in your head that makes a good story enjoyable.

So I managed to uncurl my fingers off the manuscript this month and wrote the first draft of a short story called Tribes which I'll go back to and fix at a later date.

At present, I'm back on the novel and feeling a lot more peaceful about it and as a result those same words I was gritting my teeth over in May are looking mighty fine. I should hopefully have Part One done and dusted by the end of next week. It's just the final scene that needs a tweak. Then I'll correct some more scenes in the first half of Part Two before tackling the second half.

Right. So what have I been reading? I've read a few bad books this month so I'll just do the highlights.

Scrivener's Moon - Philip Reeve's new WOME book. I have to say that this is probably the best of the Fever Crumb books so far. Some great imagery and a great story. I really enjoyed this one.

Stories - a collection of short stories with some top writers. This was my first time reading anything by Joanne Harris, Jodi Picoult and Joe R. Lansdale. They were all brilliant and I will definitely read them again. It's satisfying to be entertained by pro writers at the top of their game.

The Hot Kid - currently reading this Elmore Leonard, the first thing of his I've ever read. It is very much like the TV show Justified (or rather the TV show is like this book) and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

I've also heard that there are going to be two great-sounding TV shows in the making that I'll have to add to my list of things to look out for.

Apparently, David S. Goyer is looking to do a show based on 100 Bullets, possibly my favourite comic and Michael Chabon is doing a show for HBO called Hobgoblins, which is a naff title but it has an excellent premise. Check it out.

And that's it from me.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Update with very little 'up'

At least that's what it feels like.

Part Two is proving a tough nut to crack. I'm coming up to the half-way point in the book (and therefore the whole trilogy) and finding a lot of things I'd like to try again.

It's interesting to be working through the novel so quickly as I'm finding lots of different strata in my work. I'm finding sections of work from 3 years ago where everything is quite basic and then I'm finding sections from 2 years ago where everything is a little verbose. It's interesting to see how my writing has developed over the past few years, settling (hopefully) in something that's approaching publishable.

At the moment I'm half-way through the book and therefore half-way through the trilogy. However, as Part Two is proving tough and frustrating, I decided to give it a rest and work on some of the things I left behind. This is going well and means that I don't have to go back and correct them later on. It also means that I can't give a concrete progress report this month.

So on to books!

As I mentioned before, I have read The Wise Man's Fear, which was very entertaining. If you enjoyed Name of the Wind you'll very much enjoy this new installment.

I also finished Chris Wooding's Braided Path trilogy (so that only took me 6 months) which was also good, showing glimmerings of what the man was to become when he started to write the amazing Ketty Jay series.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley's second book in his Flavia de Luce series (after The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie). I enjoyed this one more than the last. Perhaps because I had a better idea of what to expect, perhaps because it was simply better. I shall read the third one in the near future.

The Silent Land - is a strange one. It's one of those stories that I think if I had written it, it wouldn't be published for using quite a well-known plot. I enjoyed it, though, the writing was good and the story didn't out stay it's welcome.

A Monster Calls - this has to be my book of the month. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is superb. A simple idea, well-told and holds nothing back. For child-trauma with fantasy stories this is right up there with Skellig. Patrick Ness is fast becoming one of my favourites.

Moon Over Soho - the sequel to Rivers of London. Now that the world has been introduced, the author can focus more on the case and I liked that. It was a good story, I learned some interesting facts about London and it was just a plain good read.

The Cut - I've got to love George Pelecanos, his stories are just so different from anything else I read. They're gentle but gritty, very genuine in their voice and even more so in their characters. The criminals aren't monsters and the main protagonists aren't raging drunks or in broken families just like in real life. What I guess I'm trying to say is that there are no extremes in his books, which as authors we feel we have to put into our books to make them exciting. He shows that we don't have to make characters larger than life, so long as they just have a life.

Bloody Winter - The latest in Andrew Pepper's Pyke Mysteries. I always love the settings of his novels and I enjoy the good old dark and dirty plots. He's also not afraid to slap his characters around.

I should also mention that I met Joe Hill the other day. He was a really nice guy, very enthusiastic. We discussed Game of Thrones, his new book (sounds great!), writing and how we managed our reading piles. His 'Shelf of 10' intrigues me; a shelf that once a book has been put upon it he must not read anything else other than the books on that shelf. Very much like my 'Bedside Table of However-many'. He also signed a copy of Horns. Nice.

Well, that's it from me for now.

Thanks for reading.