Authors needing to be aware of the desirability of looking after their characters should listen to the exchange between Victor Hugo and Quasimodo on Radio 4’s John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, episode 2, 11 minutes in on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lss87 It lasts just over 3 minutes.
The National Gallery will hold a Creative Writing workshop on Saturday 29th November, 11am-5pm, run in partnership with The Poetry Society. The cost for the day is £60, concessions £50. Using Rembrandt’s late self-portraits as a starting point, it will explore the parallel art of self-portraiture in words. There will be reading, discussion and the chance to create poem-portraits of your own. The idea of using a work of art as a writing exercise is very appealing…
Okay, so on a good day I can manage 1,000 words. Not necessarily erudite or witty ones, but this project is to climb on a story-horse and see how it runs. When I reach my target – now raised to 90,000 words – we’ll see if the draft can be improved enough to go out into the big wide world.
Progress on DOUGLAS DODD’S WOMEN:
18 October – 29,815
26 October – 37,277
As a test of character this is even worse than giving up chocolate or red wine…
A couple of years back, Cornerstones launched a tempting competition: Send us your first 3 chapters to get the chance of being read by agent Lorna Longstaff. Inconveniently, they needed a completed ms (which I didn’t have) but it seemed a brilliant way to concentrate my mind, so I entered.
The good news was that I made a shortlist of 14 from over 1,000 submissions. The less good news was that I had twelve weeks to fatten three chapters into 90,000 words.
Reader, I managed it. But the book Laura Longstaff saw was very much a first draft and she said as much. A wasted opportunity.
With procrastination holding back progress on my current novel: DOUGLAS DODD’S WOMEN, setting myself a similar challenge seems the way forward. I am therefore publicly undertaking to increase my current word count of 29,815 to 85,000 by the 1st January. Something like ten weeks.
Wish me luck.
How long should a book be? Chuck Sambuchino, in his useful blog Guide to Literary Agents, argues that while a brilliant book can be any length, it makes sense to aim for a word count which appeals to agents. For adult novels, both commercial and literary, this apparently means between 80,000 and 100,000 words, with 90,000 words looking the most appealing.
He gives analysis of his thinking on his blog, with specific suggestions for crime novels, sci-fi and fantasy and young adult books. Worth checking out.