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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Self Editing Your Novel PART TWO

Okay, I have more notes to add but I wanted to carry on in a new post and explain that there might be some holes in this one. 

We took a coffee break and I "thought" I had an agent one 2 one... You can imagine my stomach felt like it was doing a spin cycle and I really felt ill.  I had been so nervous all day... so I decided not to go to the second half until after my 121.

Of course, in an ideal world I would have got the right time (or more likely pressed the right button on the internet when I booked).  However, me being me I didn't do either.  It was not on Friday it was on Saturday...duh! I know, anyone who knows me will tell you how scatty I am.

So, I slunk back into the lecture will my tail firmly between my legs!  And I believe this was the second half of the notes (I hope Debi corrects me if I get anything wrong).  I hope I do it justice but as you can imagine my head was spinning...


If you write in 3rd person you can write either from one POV (point of view) or from a range of POV's, preferably 3 to 4 close ones.

At the moment the current tense that is trending is the presnt tense, but you can write in the past tense. (I like to use a mixture...)

The voice can be either omniscent or that of a character. (I prefer the character option...)

Things to consider:

  • Prose rhythm
  • Sentence structure
  • Voice colouring the perceptions
  • Pace of prose has to change
  • Gradual change from a person's POV
  • Be careful with "head hopping"
  • Control number of characters (oops...I like having a range)
  • Unreliable author... Read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time
  • Restrict Adjectives and adverbs
  • Careful use of dialogue and long winded paragraph's
  • try and pick dictinctive sounds for each character
  • Think - internal, external & surround features (this makes my think of my surround sound system!)
  • Don't describe something that can be simplified
* SHOW DON'T TELL * (Have you all heard this mantra enough times? lol)

I hope this is helpful in some way and look out for my next instalment... a talk by Jo Jo Moyes

thanks for reading
Vanessa :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Self Editing your Novel with Debi Alper PART ONE

Okay, so first workshop.

I didn't really know what to expect so I was glad to have a notepad with me... we were going to do some work!

We were asked to write about a situation between us and someone else that was emotionally charged in first person.  (I think those were her words... but since I don't have exact notes, I'm guessing!  Old age... memory is never as good...lol) 

Might I add that I missed the part about writing it in first person, so wrote it in third...duh!
I enjoyed it...lol!

We had ten 10 minutes...

After we stopped, Debi made us spend another ten minutes writing the excerpt again from the other person's POV.  This time I wrote in first person.  Another ten minutes...

I have included both attempts at the bottom of this post. 

Personally, I prefer the first but I'd be interested to hear what you think.  I'm not sure either are any good, but for ten minutes... there is not a lot more you can expect.  Anyway, the point of it was to try to get into the other characters head. 

According to Debi I was the compassionate type since I did actually feel for my sister and could relate better to her than to myself!

The point Debi made was that different perceptions, characters and roles are important.  You need to see things from their eyes to make the plot work better.  She was planning to expand on this idea on another workshop (unfortunately I did not attend that one on the next day...)

We did consider the following:

1) Structure

Introduce the main character.  Create some form of instability.  Ask yourself, does the writing grab you?  Resist the urge to info dump... don't try to tie up all the knots! (this linked in well with Harry bingham's workshop on "the Art of the Pause..." - more on that later)

A linear narrative is not always the most effective.  E.g. The Night Circus, Water For Elephants, the Time Travellors Wife

2) Plot

What happens?  What do they want?  What do they do to get it?
Make 3D characters...
Move the story forward... narrative drive.
Be careful with the use of subplots.  Think about your underlying theme...

3) Pace

Start on a high, has to be an outcome of their character...

Debi quoted, Chandler... When you can't think what happens next, bring in a man with a gun...
and Chekhov... If there's a gun on the wall in Act 1, it must be fired in Act 3.

If you have coincidences, explain and justify.  Even the most plausible ones look wrong once they are written down.

3) Character

* SHOW don't TELL
* Add more and more layers to a person gradually (this made me think of Shrek and his layers..."I'm an onion not a parfait!")
* "Vivid" writing - explain...
*  Revision... (don't I know this one)

4) Market

Can you sum up your plot in a single paragraph?  Or in a single sentence?

Personally, I hate this challenge...although I did come up with a one line description for HYBRID...

One man's journey of discovery.  (I used it in a tweet! lol!)

(unless you are EL James... sorry, bad joke!)

* A two book deal would raise approx. £30,000, spread over 5 years. 
* On average most authors earn £6-7000 P.A. 
* Write for the love, not the money...

After hearing all of this I was so glad I self published... what chance did I have!!!

Here is what I wrote... more tomorrow :)


The whole week could have been summarised as one disaster after another.  Even though Amber was her sister, there were some things she found hard to forgive.  In that moment there was absolutely nothing Amber could say to make Becca feel better.

Nothing at all.

Becca’s hands shook as anger surged throughout her body.  Who did her sister think she was?  Why did she think she could say those things and get away with it?  But, more importantly what could Becca say that would not hurt Amber.

The problem remained; she did not care if she did hurt Amber.

‘Amber, drop it.  Please, just stop telling me what to do.’  Becca’s voice trembled, it betrayed her emotion.

‘Becca, I am not going to drop it.  You know that if you  had done what I said, everything would be fine.’  Her glossy, brown curls bounced off the side of her face.  Her eyes set, determined.

Unfortunately, Becca was just as stubborn.  ‘Let’s not talk about it.  Just walk faster and we’ll get the bus in time.’

Becca increased her pace and rounded the corner first.

The bus was already at the stop and poised to go.  Hurt and wounded, Becca had lost the urge to run.  She was surprised to see Amber make a run for it.  Becca did not know she had it in her.

As Amber got to the stop, the bus eased away.

Becca gawped as amber pelted the door and hurled abuse at the driver.  She made her way over full of dread.

I can’t believe it.  My youngest sister, the girl I practically raised, my little girl, has the audacity to argue with me, to say no to me.  She would not dare.  She just can't.  She has no idea how lucky she is.  She has it all.

‘Becca, I am not going to drop it.  You know that if you had done what I said, everything would be fine.’

I turned to face her.  Too right it would have.  I mean, is it that hard to turn right when I say right?  Does everything always have to be so negative?  I like to think I’ve always been upbeat.  Life is a gift.  But all she does is moan and whinge and act like, well, a brat.

Becca looked slightly deflated.  Her shoulders drooped and her eyes had lost their shine.  ‘Let’s not talk about it.  Just walk faster and we’ll get the bus in time.’

Like that was it.


No talking.

As we rounded the corner the bus sat waiting.  I needed to get on that bus.  The thought of having to wait in silence for twenty minutes killed me.  I threw caution to the wind and raced to the stop, glad for once I wore sensible shoes.

I stopped by the bus and waited for the doors to open.  Instead, the driver made to leave.  Incensed I banged on the door, ‘let me in.’

I didn’t care about my sister, I needed to get in.

The bus continued.

I banged on the door harder and could not help but swear as the bus bus eased off.

Silence it was.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Journey and arrival...

Well, it is over a week since I returned from the Festival of Writing (I can't believe it) and my aim to write about my experience was obviously optimistic.  When will I get the time?  So, I will post gradually... please bear with me.

I arrived at Manchester Airport on the Thursday night.  I managed to get confused on arrival so walked outside the arrivals terminal until I figured out what I had to do to get to the Travelodge.  Eventually, I managed to get the transfer coach with a lovely couple on their way to Tenerif.  Festival or Tenerif ?  Tough call...

Anyway, I got chatting (as you do) and told them I was a writer.  I figured I might as well put myself out there.  As expected the Fifty Shades question came up - are you that kind of writer?  When I said no they both pursed their lips as the husband vowed they would never read that rubbish.  I'm not sure his wife was that sure...lol

At my room, alone, it was so strange.  An empty room with no kids stuff or memorabilia.  so, I got my P.J.'s on and flicked channels... I ended up watching the documentary by "the businesswoman from up North" - can't remember her name, the one from Dragon's Den.  It was excellent.  But, I was one of the women she was talking about.  A woman with a degree who choose not to go back to "work" when I had kids... a wasted resourse.  I'm not sure all the voluntary organisations I have helped would agree!  Anyway, I was glad I choose to put my skills to writing, I am doing something creative now at least!

I read a book and got ready for the next day.  Could I sleep?  Not really.  Did I wake up early?  YES.  Damn, why is it that when I have no kids waking me up in the morning I always wake up...ugh...

Anyway, I read a book in bed and waited for seven.  After a shower I went down for breakfast (very nice and peaceful...bliss) and then returned to my room to read.  BTW, I was reading a book by PC Cast from the library - nothing to rave about.  Eventually, I set off for the train station and made my way over to York by train...

York is beautiful, it really is.  I wish I'd had time to sightsee.  It was a shame to be indoors for an entire weekend of sun.  Oh well...

Once I had arrived I got chatting to a range of very nice writers... they were ALL really nice!  and got my room key, etc.  I was impressed by the organisation.  Very smooth.  Room was nicely equiped and did the job.  It did make me have a deja vu moment... to be a student again!

Bits and pieces ready, I made my way over to my first workshop... Self Editing your novel by Debi Alper!

I will write about it tomorrow...

Monday, 10 September 2012


Welcome to my blog on the Festival of Writing, York, 2012.

I will go through my notes over the next few weeks and hopefully post helpful advice and feedback I received as well as give you a flavour of what it was all about.  It was an excellent experience and it has given me that boost that I needed to see my first Trilogy (yep it's no longer a series) to its fruition.

Thanks for the visit
Vanessa :) xx