Tag Archives: Writing

How to write a novel in a day

A few days ago I wrote a novel in a day. A whole novel, in a single day.

I say “I”, but it’s only fair to point out that I had some help. Twenty-five of us got together and – over the course of twenty-four hours – produced “Made Man”, a 55,000 word tale of mafia life in 1960s Las Vegas.

You can read more about the Novel in a Day (NIAD) premise elsewhere on the site, but for anyone coming here new the basic concept was this: Someone would come up with the overarching story in advance, and break it up into individual chapters. On the day of the event, those chapter briefs would be emailed out to the participants who had the 24 hours to write their section and return it for inclusion in the final piece. An hour or so later, electronic copies of the book (PDF, ePub and mobi) were posted online for everyone to read. Other than their own brief, the participants had no idea what happened in the wider story, or where their chapter fell in the book… until they read the finished piece, of course. Continue reading

Does physical comedy work on the written page?

Remember when I wrote a little while ago about how Tom Cruise helped me rethink the approach I was taking with one of my chapters? Well, I find myself needing to do it again.

I was typing away, getting the words onto the page like a good little author, occasionally chuckling to myself (a good sign while I’m writing, a terrible sign anywhere else in life) and generally taking care of business. I had a pot of coffee next to me and my writing hat on my head. I was on a roll.

When I later came back to re-read the section I realised I’d been thinking in moving pictures again. Don’t get me wrong, this is normally a good thing. Good writing should conjure up visual images. Take the following excerpt from the NIAD2012 book, Lunar520 (this except takes place in zero-gravity on a space station):

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Update on NiaD 2013

As some of you have noticed, normally I would have announced the date for the annual Novel In A Day event by now. You may also be wondering if this lack of announcements means that we won’t be running a session this year.

What can I say? It’s been a really strange 12 months, and it looks like the next few weeks are (quite inconveniently) going to see three things:
1) a lot of change,
2) a lot of unpredictability, and
3) not a lot of free time.

As a result, I have been very hesitant in committing to a date. Still, I’m getting more frequent nudges, pokes and challenges from people who want to take part, so it’s only fair that I come off the fence and answer the question now. Continue reading

Happily Ever After

Earlier in the week I visited the library (as I am occasionally wont to do). I grabbed two Lee Childs and a Vince Flynn off the shelves and was heading to the checkout area when my gaze happened to drift across the cover of a DVD that stopped me in my tracks.

I was shocked and confused. I stood there frozen like a bad street performer with my mouth open and a look of bewilderment across my face while my brain tried to process the information. I looked down at the books in my hand and re-read the titles to make sure my eyes were still working, and then looked back at the DVD on the shelf.

“Walt Disney,” it said. “Cinderella 2.”

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Causes and cures for writer’s block.

A few days ago I was working on Chapter 19 of the WIP. I had brainstormed the chapter in my normal mind map fashion and then converted that to linear notes (basically bullet points). I sat down to start the first draft of the prose when it all slowed to a crawl. I just wasn’t feeling it.

First off let me get one thing straight: I do not believe in writer’s block. Read any interview with a journalist-turned-novelist and they will tell you the same thing: If writing is your career, then not writing is not an option. It’s the equivalent of [insert person with any job here] saying they can’t do [that job] because they aren’t feeling it. You just bought yourself a train ticket to Unemploymentville, calling at all stations via YourWifeIsLeavingYou and KraftDinnersForOne.

What I do believe in, though, is that sometimes the writing is harder than it usually is. When that happens, the worst thing I can do is try to push on through. The better solution is to pause for 10 minutes, make a pot of coffee, and spend a cup (or maybe two) worth of time figuring out why it’s harder going. I love writing. If putting the words down changes from feeling like strolling on a beach in swimshorts and flip flops to wading knee deep in snow up a steep Canadian mountain (in swimshorts and flipflops) then it’s going to feel like that for the reader too. In other words, I trust my instincts and spend a little time working out what’s wrong so I can fix it before I walk any further.

So what are the common causes? Continue reading

State of Emergency

I’ve clocked up a few negative experiences in my lifetime. I have had homes burgled twice. I was in the building both times and on the second occasion I confronted the intruder whilst completely naked. I was in London for the 7/7 bombings and the riots. I’ve lost friends to car accidents and suicide. Whilst no one has yet been successful, several people have tried to mug me while I’m minding my own business on the sidewalk.

As writers we observe real life. We take those experiences, some first hand, some third, and use them; sometimes to entertain, sometimes to inform. Continue reading

How to write a bestselling romance novel

I stumbled across an old post I made on the interweb which made me chuckle and fits the tone of this site, so I thought I’d reproduce it here. So here it is: The Pigfender guide to writing a bestselling romance novel which will be loved by women everywhere and turned into a blockbuster Hollywood movie. Probably starring Ryan Gosling. Continue reading