Monday, May 15, 2006

Lights and Tunnel Ends

Word count: 67,118

I’ve now returned 18 assignments, hoorah. Two more are sitting in my inbox, while another 4 should be delivered between now and Friday (actually, 2 of those were due LAST Friday and haven’t been submitted. Virtual slapped wrists. Still, since when did most writers meet deadlines?).

I’ve also made a bit of progress with Scaredy as the word count shows. The book has three distinct ‘modes’ of writing; the main first person, present tense narrative, a blog and a flashback (also in the first person, present tense, but from the POV of the central character as a child). Actually this is a simpler structure than my last couple of books, which had that first person present narrative plus third person limited shifting viewpoint (if this sounds like double Dutch, and you want to know more about point-of-view, try here, here or here).

Viewpoint is always a critical decision for me – and I think that marking all the assignments has made me focus on this, because a piece can succeed or fail largely on the basis on this decision. I rewrote about a third of Brown Owl’s Guide to Life, changing from the third person, back into the first person – that certainly taught me a lesson about getting it right early on!

I think the reason I like to vary things is a Boredom Prevention Strategy – not for the reader (hopefully the story and characters will keep them reading), but for me. My stories tend to be character based which means I need to find ways to reflect their past – but flashbacks within the present-day narrative can be quite heavy going. So I like to separate them out, with ‘vignettes’ (sorry, pretentious word, but it kind of works in this context) that offer a different perspective through time or another character on the action happening in the literary ‘here and now.’

Being able to write in slightly different modes or voices REALLY helps me when I am feeling a bit stuck or jaded. I’m not sure I have the stamina to write in, say, an entirely different historical period (all that research!), though I’d never say never. But being able to dip in and out is a real treat.

Worth trying a new viewpoint, or one from a different time in the character's history, if you’re stuck in a rut in a longer work-in-progress, I think.

Lovely Link of the Day
This is an enlightening piece about the reasons why certain novels are chosen to be turned into films. Oh, and movie rights to Brown Owl are available, if anyone’s interested…


Blogger ruthgledhill said...

Hi Kate, thank you for marking my assignment so generously and I do feel for you and can't imagine how you do everything you do plus all this. The OU course is giving me a new confidence in my ability to write creatively rather than just report and I hope to complete the first chapter I submitted into a novel. I've also just signed up to your newsletter, can't think why I didn't do that earlier. I have decided to start a review section on my own blog, I'll be reviewing Brown Owl, which I can with integrity because it has a woman vicar in it. Reading it has really shocked me though, because I think I know what happens. I haven't cheated and looked at the end, but I was a a pixie in Pulborough brownies in the late 1960s when our set was deeply traumatised by the most awful incident. I had buried the memory of it but it is all coming back to me now I'm into your book and I must say sitting at my desk writing this, I am physically shaking. But the nightmares that traumatised me for 30 years and still sometimes return started then. It is the first time that it has occurred to me to wonder how everyone else in our set coped with it. It was just the most unutterably terrible thing that happened. I am now desperately curious to know what happens in your book and also what happened to all my fellow pixies in Pulborough. Like you I had a peripatetic childhood and we left the area soon afterwards and moved to the Midlands.

10:59 am  

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