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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Self Editing your Novel with Debi Alper PART ONE

Okay, so first workshop.

I didn't really know what to expect so I was glad to have a notepad with me... we were going to do some work!

We were asked to write about a situation between us and someone else that was emotionally charged in first person.  (I think those were her words... but since I don't have exact notes, I'm guessing!  Old age... memory is never as good...lol) 

Might I add that I missed the part about writing it in first person, so wrote it in third...duh!
I enjoyed it...lol!

We had ten 10 minutes...

After we stopped, Debi made us spend another ten minutes writing the excerpt again from the other person's POV.  This time I wrote in first person.  Another ten minutes...

I have included both attempts at the bottom of this post. 

Personally, I prefer the first but I'd be interested to hear what you think.  I'm not sure either are any good, but for ten minutes... there is not a lot more you can expect.  Anyway, the point of it was to try to get into the other characters head. 

According to Debi I was the compassionate type since I did actually feel for my sister and could relate better to her than to myself!

The point Debi made was that different perceptions, characters and roles are important.  You need to see things from their eyes to make the plot work better.  She was planning to expand on this idea on another workshop (unfortunately I did not attend that one on the next day...)

We did consider the following:

1) Structure

Introduce the main character.  Create some form of instability.  Ask yourself, does the writing grab you?  Resist the urge to info dump... don't try to tie up all the knots! (this linked in well with Harry bingham's workshop on "the Art of the Pause..." - more on that later)

A linear narrative is not always the most effective.  E.g. The Night Circus, Water For Elephants, the Time Travellors Wife

2) Plot

What happens?  What do they want?  What do they do to get it?
Make 3D characters...
Move the story forward... narrative drive.
Be careful with the use of subplots.  Think about your underlying theme...

3) Pace

Start on a high, has to be an outcome of their character...

Debi quoted, Chandler... When you can't think what happens next, bring in a man with a gun...
and Chekhov... If there's a gun on the wall in Act 1, it must be fired in Act 3.

If you have coincidences, explain and justify.  Even the most plausible ones look wrong once they are written down.

3) Character

* SHOW don't TELL
* Add more and more layers to a person gradually (this made me think of Shrek and his layers..."I'm an onion not a parfait!")
* "Vivid" writing - explain...
*  Revision... (don't I know this one)

4) Market

Can you sum up your plot in a single paragraph?  Or in a single sentence?

Personally, I hate this challenge...although I did come up with a one line description for HYBRID...

One man's journey of discovery.  (I used it in a tweet! lol!)

(unless you are EL James... sorry, bad joke!)

* A two book deal would raise approx. £30,000, spread over 5 years. 
* On average most authors earn £6-7000 P.A. 
* Write for the love, not the money...

After hearing all of this I was so glad I self published... what chance did I have!!!

Here is what I wrote... more tomorrow :)


The whole week could have been summarised as one disaster after another.  Even though Amber was her sister, there were some things she found hard to forgive.  In that moment there was absolutely nothing Amber could say to make Becca feel better.

Nothing at all.

Becca’s hands shook as anger surged throughout her body.  Who did her sister think she was?  Why did she think she could say those things and get away with it?  But, more importantly what could Becca say that would not hurt Amber.

The problem remained; she did not care if she did hurt Amber.

‘Amber, drop it.  Please, just stop telling me what to do.’  Becca’s voice trembled, it betrayed her emotion.

‘Becca, I am not going to drop it.  You know that if you  had done what I said, everything would be fine.’  Her glossy, brown curls bounced off the side of her face.  Her eyes set, determined.

Unfortunately, Becca was just as stubborn.  ‘Let’s not talk about it.  Just walk faster and we’ll get the bus in time.’

Becca increased her pace and rounded the corner first.

The bus was already at the stop and poised to go.  Hurt and wounded, Becca had lost the urge to run.  She was surprised to see Amber make a run for it.  Becca did not know she had it in her.

As Amber got to the stop, the bus eased away.

Becca gawped as amber pelted the door and hurled abuse at the driver.  She made her way over full of dread.

I can’t believe it.  My youngest sister, the girl I practically raised, my little girl, has the audacity to argue with me, to say no to me.  She would not dare.  She just can't.  She has no idea how lucky she is.  She has it all.

‘Becca, I am not going to drop it.  You know that if you had done what I said, everything would be fine.’

I turned to face her.  Too right it would have.  I mean, is it that hard to turn right when I say right?  Does everything always have to be so negative?  I like to think I’ve always been upbeat.  Life is a gift.  But all she does is moan and whinge and act like, well, a brat.

Becca looked slightly deflated.  Her shoulders drooped and her eyes had lost their shine.  ‘Let’s not talk about it.  Just walk faster and we’ll get the bus in time.’

Like that was it.


No talking.

As we rounded the corner the bus sat waiting.  I needed to get on that bus.  The thought of having to wait in silence for twenty minutes killed me.  I threw caution to the wind and raced to the stop, glad for once I wore sensible shoes.

I stopped by the bus and waited for the doors to open.  Instead, the driver made to leave.  Incensed I banged on the door, ‘let me in.’

I didn’t care about my sister, I needed to get in.

The bus continued.

I banged on the door harder and could not help but swear as the bus bus eased off.

Silence it was.

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