Saturday, 28 January 2012

Book signing - do you need to?

Well yes. Did one this week locally, despite the book not being available in UK other than in this local bookshop. Why bother? Because it's important to keep your profile out there. You need people to know who you are, and what you do.

You may think, if you are unpublished, that this doesn't matter. But honestly, the sooner you start building a profile, the better. Obviously you can't do a book signing, if you haven't got a book. You can, though, let people around you know you're a writer. I've been doing it for years and amazingly, there are still people who know me well who don't know I write. "Oh, you've written a book?" they say. Er - yes, actually, quite a few..

Don't let the unpublished ticket stop you from saying what you do. You write, therefore you are a writer. A writer writes. It doesn't say, a writer is only a writer when published.

For the record, only one stranger bought a book. Everyone else that came was someone I knew and had told about the signing. That doesn't matter. My profile in the town has risen by that much - other people came into the shop during the signing, plus the books are still in there along with a huge poster of the cover. This is promotion.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

In, out, in again

This reminds me of my perennial battle with exclamation marks. Wrote a scene yesterday that I wasn't too happy with. Thought it didn't belong, or it was holding up the action. Decided to take it out and stuck it in a temp folder. Memo: never throw anything away in case you change your mind.

Today read it back and decided I wanted it in, so I stuck it back in and wrote on from there. Seems to work, but I reserve the right to chuck it out again or shorten it at a later date.

Why is this of interest? Because it's that inner writer at work again. Me the editor decided it wasn't right, shouldn't be there. Me the writer wrote it anyway. Editor looked at it after a break and found actually writer might be right. Editor reserves judgement and the jury is still out.

But that's what your first draft is for. Doesn't matter. Unless you've written yourself into a corner (see previous post) you can always change something later. Sometimes you have to trust the inspiration of the moment and go with it. In fact, I'd say always do that. Because first drafts have this wonderful caveat - they aren't set in stone.

I was worried because I had delved strongly into relationship stuff and this is a crime novel. But really, any novel needs characterisation and relationship stuff develops that. So maybe it is needed.

However, I have made the vow that from now on the crime has to be at the forefront, and the pace needs to pick up. Tell that to the inner writer and let's hope she comes up trumps.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Plotter versus writer

I've been noticing as I'm writing crime book three (deftly slipping in excuse about not blogging for so long) how a story grows in unexpected ways. I don't plan much, but I do have a point to point scheme to follow, usually covering the next two or three chapters.

What's interesting is how things change as characters come alive on the page. For example, I had an image of one major character as a secretive quiet sort, and she suddenly exploded into a creature of passion and temperament, surprising me as well as the other characters on stage at the time. The story immediately took off.

This is the key, I think. You've got to allow your inner writer to do it for you. You put the characters on the stage, start the ball rolling, and let 'em rip. For me, that's when writing is a joy.

Of course it doesn't last. The very next thing I did after that was ignore my point to point plan and promptly write myself into a corner. Heroine was in the wrong place at the wrong time, there was vital info missing and I couldn't get out of it without backtracking on the scene I was then writing and putting in the missing one.

What's happening here is the interweaving of the plotter with the writer. Both jobs are needed, but the wise plotter knows when to let the writer have his head. Plotter steers, writer grows the story.

Even if you don't plan at all and fly by the seat of your pants, there is still this game of keeping the two tasks working in tandem.