Saturday, 4 February 2012


coloured pens bought especially to nail my novel
          Now February is here, I have to start thinking about rewriting Sterkarm 3.
          Throughout January I’ve been able to think: Oh, rewriting is the best part!  Rewriting is fun!  The wearisome slog of trudging through a first draft is over!  Rewriting is where you make real progress with a book.
          Yeah – but soon I’m going to have to DO it, which is something else again.  I shall have to confront all those clumsy, clichéd, or unbelievable passages which make you want to go out into the garden and bury yourself.  But, instead, I shall have to try and decide what to do about them.
Just to annoy Madwippet
          I shall have to hunt out all those scenes which I really liked and where I really captured something or other – but which don’t do anything for this book.  And make myself get rid of them.
          And I’m up for it, I absolutely am.  I’ve done it before.  I’ve even enjoyed it.  I’m keen to start, honest.  But dreading it too.  It’s equal and opposites forces – as much as I’m jittery and dancing with eagerness to start, there’s an equally powerful feeling that says: Not yet, not yet.  Wait for it, wait for it!
          I want to wait until I just can’t NOT start.  That’s always worked for me in the past, whether rewriting or starting something new.
          I’m keen to start rewriting for another reason – though wait for it, wait for it – and that’s because I’ve decided to try something new.  New to me, anyway.  Partly out of curiosity and partly out of desperation, I’ve been reading Roz Morris’ 'Nail Your Novel', as I mentioned last week.  I've finished it now, and I remain impressed.  So impressed that I’m going to try the methods she suggests, both for rewriting Sterkarm 3 and for outlining ‘the next big thing’ my agent wants.  I’ve already bought the cards and coloured pens.
Roz Morris
          Now quite often, when I’ve read ‘How-To’ books on writing before, I’ve thought, ‘What a load of faff.  I’ve never done anything like that in 35 years of writing, nor am I ever likely to bother.’ 
          And to be brutally honest, I more than half expected to think the same of Nail Your Novel.  Instead, I was impressed by the down-to-earth practicality of its advice.  I read it thinking: ‘Good idea!  And, yes, I can see the sense in doing that.’  It doesn’t  tell you to complete the exercises at the end of each chapter (does anybody,ever?), or spend twenty minutes each day writing about nothing, or to meditate.
          Instead Roz offers a very clear method – she calls it a ‘beat-sheet’ – of mapping your books strengths and weaknesses, evaluating them, editing them, and shuffling what's left into the best possible order.  Instead of thinking, ‘What a faff,’ I got excited because I could see very clearly how I could make practical use of her method.  It was a sort of super-charged, better thought-out version of methods I’d already stumbled into myself without ever giving much actual thought to what I was doing.
          So I'm going to use Roz’s ‘beat sheet’ approach to tackling the Sterkarms.  See her book for details, but it involves the afore-mentioned coloured pens and sheets of paper.  And a time-line, which I feel in desperate need of.  I shall report back on how it goes.  And also on the plotting of ‘the next big thing’, for which I shall use the cards and another of Roz’s methods.
          I am feeling quite excited to be trying something new.  But
I’m still not quite ready to start.  Wait for it, wait for it -

          Roz Morris' NAIL YOUR NOVEL can be found here.

          Roz blogs here, and on Authors Electric.

          And I've just published HEAD AND TALES as an e-book, revised and with notes added.

          In ancient myth, the severed head stood for Wisdom.  In story after story, the severed head speaks and gives counsel.
          A sick man, a story-teller, dying in a work-camp, fears for the children he’ll leave behind in a harsh world.
          His last wish is that his head be cut off, and carried by his children on their long walk home to the grandmother they have never seen.
          When they are tired, despairing, threatened, the head opens its eyes – and tells stories.  Words have power.  Stories can be spells.

          And here's Blott  - 



JO said...

Every new novels need new pens. And many new notebooks, with wonderful covers. That, surely, is part of the fun!

Susan Price said...

I've always tended to get lost in the notebooks, Jo! I'm hoping that Roz has scattered enough breadcrumbs to guide me out of the thickets and home.

madwippitt said...

Craaaaack! That's me waving a lunge whip menacingly in your direction! To it! Or else give us another chapter!

Blott once again reinforces my belief that wippitt muses are better - and herbal tea ... !

LC Hu said...

(Let's see if Blogger will finally let me comment!! For some reason the captcha hasn't been working for me.)

Oooh, I dread revisions, even though once I'm doing them, I'm usually fine and even enjoy it. Cheering you on with yours, once that moment to start finally seizes you!

Thanks so much for the rec for Nail Your Novel! I think I have a similar opinion to you regarding most How To books, so one that's more practical and useful sounds fabulous.

Also I will finally be getting an ebook reader soon so I can stop squinting at ebooks on my iPod Touch, and once I do Head and Tales is going to be one of the first things I buy.

Love Blot, as usual.

Susan Price said...

L C, a fellow writer thanks you!
But Madwippet, herbal tea for writing? Cat people and dog people will never agree. The odd cup of peppermint is all very well, but for serious work, it has to be coffee, hot chocolate and whisky! (Sometimes in the same cup.)

Susan Price said...

And of course, I love Blot - but I especially love his milky white mouth at the end of this one!

madwippitt said...

When you find yourself chain-drinking coffee, and actually making the next cup before you've even finished the last one, it's time to stop - or at least to ration yourself to one a day! Herbal teas are perfect for serious writers as even when they've gone cold while you were feverishly tapping away at the keyboard, they still taste good, so no need to leave your labours to go make another. And of course they don't need milk, so no raids by a pesky Blott, or finding that the milk in the fridge is off ... !

Jenny Alexander said...

I think the meditate or write-five-pages-of-rubbish every day school of writing book is for the first stage - getting in the flow, relaxing into enjoying it, etc. I love the technical ones as well, for redrafting, when you're 'crafting the lump.' This one sounds excellent - let us know how it goes!
ps glad I'm not the only one who struggles with persuading blogger to publish my comments

Susan Price said...

Don't you love it when you've written out a long comment - and then because of some slight fumble on the keys, Blogger deletes it all!