Thursday, 25 April 2019

Only dimwits forget the market

Every so often I trawl through my documents file and get rid of stuff I don't need any more. Sometimes I find little gems - here's one, written a long time ago by Stephen King. I've shortened it a good deal  but you can find the original if you google it. The comments in italics are mine


Tips for writing from Stephen King
Type. Double-space. Use a nice heavy white paper. (I wonder if he does the equivalent on a computer?)
Be self-critical. (Sometimes I think I'm too self-critical)

Remove every extraneous word. (And by do they creep in....)
You want to write for money? Get to the point. And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can’t find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again . . . or try something new. 
Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft
When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off. 
Know the markets
Only a dimwit would send a tender story about a mother and daughter making up their differences on Christmas Eve to Playboy … but people do it all the time. If you write a good story, why send it out in an ignorant fashion? Would you send your kid out in a snowstorm dressed in Bermuda shorts and a tank top?
Write to entertain
Somewhere along the line pernicious critics have invested the American reading and writing public with the idea that entertaining fiction and serious ideas do not overlap. This would have surprised Charles Dickens, not to mention Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Bernard Malamud, and hundreds of others. But your serious ideas must always serve your story, not the other way around. (I think serious ideas survive in the UK fiction. Not that they are always an entertaining read.)
Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”
The answer needn’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.
How to evaluate criticism
It doesn’t matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with your piece, it is. If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I’d still suggest changing it. But if everyone – or even most everyone – is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.
An agent? Forget it. For now
Flog your stories around yourself. If you’ve done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete. And remember Stephen King’s First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal … and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.
If it’s bad, kill it
When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law. When it comes to fiction, it is the law.


Thursday, 18 April 2019

An Ethnic Enigma


An Ethnic Enigma – Norse, Pict and Gael in the Western Isles Andrew Jennings and Arne Kruse
Introduction
What happened to the native people of the islands of Scotland when the Vikings appeared over the horizon? Were the men killed and the womenfolk bundled on to the ships, leaving the land empty and ripe for resettlement? Or did they survive the Viking visitation living alongside the newcomers and ultimately blending with them? There is still no consensus about which scenario best approximates to the truth, despite it being, for many decades, a topic of debate between scholars.

Busy doing my research - mugging up on facts about Viking life in the years around the first millennium. The above paragraph about sums up the position, but of course, people taken their own  and argue the hind leg off a donkey, as we used to say, to preserve their viewpoint. I haven't decided on my stance yet, but it is always good to know the parameters of an argument. In the Viking  books I've written so far - Far After Gold, Viking Summer and Magician's Bride  and of course Alba is Mine,I haven't really had to make a decision, but I have a niggling feeling I might have to this time. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Is Ted H innocent?

Four daffodils still flower my garden, and soon they too will be gone. They were glorious in the sunshine. My one tulip is still a tight bud. (Every year I swear I will buy more to keep it company, and each year I leave it too late...)

I have one question about Line of Duty. If Ted H is innocent, why is he rushing his computer into a dodgy-looking shop that advertises erasure of pcs? Well, no, there is another question - what is he doing sleeping with the Bigelow creature? She is toxic all the way through.

The writer is doing an excellent even-handed job of making us think Ted is guilty and then thinking Bigelow and the insurance man Moffat are trying to frame him. One has to keep watching to see which will prove correct! If I'm right that two people are trying to frame him, then Ted must be innocent or why would they try?

But what about that computer? He  doesn't want his financial details known? or that he is facing divorce? Realises he is under threat and wants his private family life kept private? If so, he is too late because that man with the accent I can hardly make out has already discovered where his wife lives. John is a man under pressure, and about to crack. I thought he was about to shoot himself, and what a pity he didn't. One thing I notice: Steve Arnott is being sidelined to some extent. Except for saying S**t at regular intervals, Kate isn't doing much with her new promotion.


Monday, 8 April 2019

Binge tv

Never thought I'd say this but I've just binge-watched Line of Duty series 1-4. Three episodes per night was more than enough for my brain to keep up with, but tonight we reached the end of series 4. Now it is on to I-player and then the real live episode 5.

I remember the Steve Arnott character (Martin Crompton?sp) as the teenage chef late in the series of Monarch of the Glen. He hasn't changed much except his face might be a little chunkier. Then he was a cheeky chappy, but now I like his intensity in this production.

Watching has stopped me getting on with my editing and partaking in much chatting on Facebook. It has also stopped me promoting my books!

I am "attending" a webinar on Thursday night in the hope of learning better ways to promote. Does one "attend" a webinar? I don't know, but I've booked my place. I'll let you know what happens.