Tag Archives: Writing

NiaD 8 – Live and Let NiaD…

The sign up sheet for NiaD8 is now live! This year’s event (and I’m taking generous liberties with the definition of ‘year’ here) is taking place on Saturday 26th January, 2019, so we’ve got a quite a generous lead time for people to sign up. Spread the word to your various writing chums and encourage them to take part! The new time of year will hopefully help kickstart those new year writing resolutions (for me as much as anyone else).

Head over to the NiaD forum and sign up (or just say “hi”). This year, I’m also being regularly interviewed by a previous participant as I go through the process of developing the story and briefing materials. Their intention is to try and make sense of the various activities and share it in a series of podcasts / blogs that will go out after the event itself has finished. I’m reminded of a documentary I watched on Channel 4 in the UK many years back (when there were still only 4 channels) about a guy who was given a bunch of cash by the production company to build and fly a light aircraft from scratch. It became painfully obvious after a few weeks that the guy wasn’t going to make; that he wouldn’t even come close. The documentary became an unmissable study into the effect of deadline related stress.

I can’t think why I thought of that.

Incidentally, while of got you here, have you seen the new(ish) novelinaday.com website yet? It’s 100% less yellow! :)

Start Wearing Purple (NIAD 2017)

Biographer Jacob Heath has an unhealthy level of enthusiasm for his work.

When he decides to write the story of San Francisco’s  masked vigilante, the Terrordon, and his arch-enemy the Sleepwalker, Jacob’s ‘method writer’ approach might get him in deeper than he can handle.

This book was written as a Novel-in-a-Day on October 28, 2017. Three versions were produced (one called ‘Blue’, one called ‘Red’, and one called ‘Orange’) each written in just 24 hours by 20 authors.

 

 

 

 

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Novel in a Day 7 is going ahead!

Just a short post to let you all know that the sign-up sheet for this year’s Novel in a Day is now live! The event will take place on Saturday October 28th 2017 (UK time, as usual) and — unlike our brief bonus novella in June earlier this year — will be the full fat version.

Speaking of June’s Novella in a Day, I really enjoyed our alternative version. Being a shorter and more contained plot, it was a *lot* less effort, pain and pressure in the run up to the day (although the actual day itself was just as, if not more, hectic than usual). Thanks to everyone who took part in that, it was a really fun read!

But back to the present… Novel in a Day, October 28th, sign up here. I’ve started working on the plot for it now and I’m really excited! :)

Novella-in-a-Day? NiaD VI is going ahead in JUNE!

Some of you will recall that we never got round to scheduling a NiaD for last October because of an unwelcomed excess of Real Life™. When I announced that it wouldn’t be going ahead you lot were amazing, with exactly the right blend of disappointment and well-wishes to make me all warm and fuzzy, and help that Real Life™ seem manageable.

So, to say “Thank You”, we’re going to run a very special out-of-season version of Novel-in-a-Day… Welcome to Novella-in-a-Day!

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How to plot

I have been sharing a series of pictures on Instagram over the past couple of weeks that outline the process I go through to plot out a story for the Novel-in-a-Day events each year. If you’re a ‘pantser’ who likes to just wing that thing, then the rest of this post will probably give you a bit of a chuckle. It might also give you an interesting framework to retrospectively apply after you’ve done that first draft to test how strong / focused your tale is. For the rest of us, it’s a helpful way to develop a story from scratch. Continue reading

Lessons on writing from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air

For those that don’t know, Save the Cat is a book (and a computer application, an iOS and Android app, a set of workshops, and two other books) by screenwriter Blake Snyder. It’s aimed very firmly at other screenwriters looking for a bit of script-doctor type feedback on structuring their stories. Whilst it’s been criticised by some[citation needed] for its formulaic approach, and I wouldn’t advocate using it religiously to structure your work, I do recommend it (and the sequel, Save the Cat Strikes Back) both for a fun read and for providing a great vocabulary to use when talking about story structure… even if you’re only using it to talk to the nagging voices inside your own head.

What’s this got to do with Will Smith? Well aside from the fact that he literally saves some cats in his movies (the above shot is from 1998’s Enemy of the State, and the Internet[citation needed] pointed out that he saved the Scientist’s cat “from the demo-bot” in I, Robot), the theme tune to his 1990s sit-com, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, declares itself to be a story (“Now this is a story all about how, My life got flipped, turned upside down…”). So, I wondered whether the rousing ballad that Will wrote with Jazzy Jeff followed the “optimum” structure set out in Save the Cat.

In short, would Blake Snyder have thought the theme tune from the Fresh Prince was a “good” story…? Continue reading

The mouse exclusion

About this time last year I wrote a post making fabulous (and ridiculously amusing) predictions about the state of publishing for the next fifty years. One of those predictions was a dramatic increase in the quality and variety of books available for free as a result of expired copyright.

Copyright law is one of those topics that I find it hard to stay away from when I hear it discussed. It’s often misunderstood, incorrectly interpreted, and / or taken for granted, but one part of the debate more likely to prompt me to get my trolling hat on than any other is expiry. Every now and again I’ll hear of creators and consumers complaining about the duration that copyright subsists after the death of the author, typically citing a certain American purveyor of theme parks and animated features as aggressively lobbying to get further extensions to protect their commercial interests (ie, their exclusive rights to use the Mouse and his friends). Those people are wrong.

And not “in my opinion they are wrong,” or “I can see where they’re coming from, but I personally don’t agree”. They’re just wrong. Continue reading