Posted in books, fun, NaNo, writing

Retreating to Camp again!

It probably seems as though I am repeating myself, but it really is time to head for Camp NaNoWriMo again.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place each November, the challenge (if you didn’t already know) is to write 50,000 words in 30 days – November!

I found the site last October, and in a moment of madness I signed up to the challenge. I had never written anything before, other than at school or university, and certainly nothing that could possibly resemble a novel. But, not one to turn down such an opportunity, I jumped in, feet first.

As it happens, I am a ‘pantser’ – no planning, no outline – basically no idea at all – just flying by the seat of my pants, trying to create a masterpiece. Well, believe it or not, I actually met the 50,000 target with several days to spare. OK, so it wasn’t going to win any prizes for its plot or character development, but it was a first draft – and they are supposed to be rubbish, and I could definitely relate to that.

Since then, my first draft has become a manuscript (see, I did learn something!) of some 95,000 words. I have rewritten several parts, and it even has a start, middle and an ending now – it’s improving with each re-write.  It will soon be ready for beta reading and then hopefully a final edit (or two!) I have persevered with my novel, as I said earlier, I am not one to give up, and I will publish it. It won’t make me rich in financial terms, but it has been – and still is – a fabulous experience. I have learnt so much about creative writing, met some great writers and have had loads of support from everyone. It just goes to prove that doing something new, something that is out of your comfort zone, can be really rewarding and great fun. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of time and effort has been put into this, but I am pretty chuffed with the outcome. Consequently, in April, I did my first stint at Camp NaNoWrimo and made a start on the sequel. This writing lark can be quite addictive.

Anyway, as I pursue the first two ‘novels’, another thought popped into my head. I was going to save it for this year’s NaNo in November, but along came July’s Camp, so it just has to be done now. As I said, I’m a pantser still, it’s just that this time I have a vague idea of a story a few days before it all kicks off. (RESULT!!!)

July will be time for a new story, I’m venturing into a sci-fi parody – it could all go very badly wrong, but it’s worth a shot. ‘Planet Dog’ is due any day now, look out for the paw prints in the sky as the planet hits stormy weather!

Planet-dog-cover1

Happy Camping to all participants.

Posted in books, labels, words, writing

Identifying my genre…

Ever tried fitting a square peg into a round hole?

Well, that’s how I feel when I try to categorise my book into a particular genre.

Obviously, I have to choose one primary category, and I understand I can then mix things up a little as far as the sub-genres are concerned, but there has to be one dominant category to start with.

This  decision will then determine where my book is placed on those glorious shelves within the book store – whether on-line or in an actual store (yeah, I know, but I can dream!)

MysteryBook

The main thread of my story is one of vengeance, whereupon justice is delivered and good conquers evil.

However, this can be interpreted in many ways:

Mystery / Crime / Suspense / Thriller

At least that has reduced my choices down to just four, but this is where is gets more difficult. Time to concentrate!

These categories are also all closely linked, and there is an element of overlap in each of them (nobody said it would be easy!)

A good mystery novel will include an intellectual puzzle that needs to be resolved.

puzzle

This genre requires the perpetrator to be brought to justice.  

The reader must not know who the bad guy is until the end.

But if I violate this rule (and I do), does this mean I am not writing a mystery – does it now become a thriller?

suspense copy

The suspense needs to build, and the ending should be shocking and unexpected.

This category works for me, but is it a dominant category? Are there really bookshelves for ‘suspense’ tales or are they generally placed into the thriller or mystery section. Is ‘suspense’  a sub-genre or can it stand on its own?

Well, I hope so, because my story is not a thriller either.

thriller

The terms thriller and suspense novel are used interchangeably in the industry. They  come in many varieties, including action-adventure, technothriller, legal thriller, war novel, and spy novel.

No, sorry, but that’s not me!

Enough!

Decision time: SUSPENSE is a dominant category.

It is the most appropriate genre for my tale of revenge.

My sub-categories are MYSTERY and CRIME.

One other key factor in my decision making process is that  the thriller genre is very marketable and also  highly competitive. The bestseller lists are packed with books in this category,  so breaking in may not be easy for new novelists.

Whereas the mystery / crime genre, although also a strong choice,  gives a writer a lot of options, and an unknown novelist  still has a good shot at breaking into this category (or so I am told!)

That, definitely, works for me! 

Phew! – Glad that’s over…

Posted in books, Nasrid, Spain, writing

Creating my story world.

Frankly, I didn’t really give this much thought when I started writing my story. I had chosen a setting that was familiar to me – Granada, Spain – I wanted to write about a place that was important to me, somewhere that conjured up wonderful images in my head, reminiscent of an era long since forgotten. It was the perfect place, a mix of magic and mystery, stunning scenery, interesting history, awesome architecture and with an air of tranquillity that inspired my imagination.

alhambra full

Only later, when I read books on creative writing, did I realise that many writers plan their story world before they start writing. Maybe I had done all my planning subconsciously, because it evolved very naturally in my mind. Each time that I demanded something of it, it was there, waiting for me, I never had to force my story into that world; it belonged there and could not have been anywhere else.

alhambra gardens

As I look back and focus my attention on the details of my world, I am never disappointed.  I can mould and shape it in any way I choose, but I don’t have to try too hard. The core ingredients are all there, offering me a seemingly endless supply of possibilities and opportunities.

leones 2

My story world is real, it has real presence and it has history – I can travel back in time and it still works, if anything, the historical element makes the story better, giving me strong foundations. My characters have roots here, it resonates throughout the story, even when a change in location is called for.

It is never forgotten or overlooked.

Thank you Granada. You are much more than a mere location.

Posted in Why write, writing

You cannot be serious!

tennis ballsIt’s that time of year again, Wimbledon beckons, and with it the nostalgia of times gone by.

It was 1981 when those immortal words were first uttered by John McEnroe –  and still we remember! It’s funny how some words live on in our memories for such a long time, we never forget who said them, or where.

These days, things seem more controlled on court, there are fewer outbursts and tantrums, but more grunting and colour, lots of colour! The traditional Wimbledon whites are less evident, as the fashionistas continually showcase their latest designs, with the addition of colourful twists and the occasional piece of bling.

In spite of it all, we shall still sit down, engrossed by the game, eating our fill of strawberries and cream (well, here in Spain, the strawberry season has finished, so it will be cherries instead!) and praying for the rain to stop. We do it every year, and we always will!

My birthday falls during the Wimbledon fortnight and it is an unwritten law that I must watch tennis, it was always my intention to be there, one day, watching a match on Centre Court (well the move to Spain put the kibosh on that idea!), but for now, the TV will just have to do. At least here, I can laugh at those poor fans, their umbrellas at the ready, wondering if they will even get to see a game, let alone a set or a whole match.

If the rain falls, (who am I kidding?), I will fill the hours writing, until play is resumed. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy writing, it is not a compulsion for me. I can go days, even weeks without putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard even).

Can I, therefore, really call myself a writer? The need to write does not consume me.  I will complete my book though, and I will publish it, in my own time. I don’t have a thousand ideas in my head,  I do have a few plots to develop, once again, in my own good time.

I have read many articles on what it takes to be a writer, and the one point that really stood out for me was to know why you write. I write because I enjoy it. It’s a form of escapism, it is creative and thought-provoking, imaginative and also very hard work. But it is rewarding  to see my story grow and my characters develop personalities. Sometimes, even I don’t know how things will end!

So, am I a writer?

Some would say – ‘You cannot be serious!’

But I don’t care. I write, therefore, I am a writer – but maybe I’ll just watch Wimbledon first!