From the beginning to ‘The End’ (working title)


This is the first true post as I begin to write this non-fiction book relating the creation of a novel. Every non-fiction book I have read from historical biographies to Butcher’s Copy-Editing has an introduction. It gives the author their first chance to say hello and to give a flavour of what their book will be about, what it will cover and how they plan to go about it.

I wanted to give my prospective readers a chance to get an idea of what they could expect and to learn a little about the bloke who thought he had something to offer.

If anyone has any ideas on what else they think should be covered in the Introduction please leave me a comment and if I like it, I will include it and give you credit in the acknowledgements. Thank you.

Introduction and Biography

What prompted you to buy this book? What do you want to get out of it? Do you think it will help? It will. Help that is.

This book isn’t about the formula of writing a novel and the mistakes that you will make if you don’t follow a prescribed method. There are a thousand books available covering that approach; some free, others reasonably priced and many ridiculously expensive. There also some excellent books that adopt different approaches; whether it is free form writing where a looser ‘empty your soul on to the page’ approach or instructions on how to write and research non-fiction. If that is what you are looking for then scan your local bookshop or the Amazon website and convert your cash into advice.

This book is about a journey taken by a writer describing how he creates a work of fiction from an initial idea through to publication. I am the writer and I wanted to describe the process that I am going  through when I write my novel. For me this is a very personal approach as it lays open my own ideas and philosophies on writing and creating fiction. I want this book to be read as a way to write a novel, not as the only way to write a novel, it’s a way that works for me and I hope that my approach helps by giving you a blueprint to write the story inside you as well as offering ideas and practical advice.

When I write I need the comfort of structure and planning to ensure that I am not faced by a blank page with no idea what to put on it. The plan changes, they always do, but those changes will add depth and texture to the story and improve the finished novel. By having a plan, a detailed plan, I know the direction in which the story is heading, what will happen at a given point and how each scene will affect the story as a whole.  My plan is only the initial view of how I expect the story to progress, the changes are what will allow the story to develop within the original framework.

This very structured approach to writing I know won’t suit everyone. Stephen King believes that plot is best forgotten but situation is important. He also says, ’I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all of our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.’  Conversely John Irving says, ‘know the story—as much of the story as you can possibly know, if not the whole story—before you commit yourself to the first paragraph….If you don’t know the story before you begin the story, what kind of a storyteller are you?’

This book will lead you from your initial first glimmer of an idea, testing the idea, planning in detail, first draft, rewriting and more rewriting, from there to editing, cover design and on to publication, both traditional and indie. It is a blueprint that you can use time and time again. Using it as a guide when writing your early works to a reference as your experience grows.

I hope you enjoy the journey.

Biography

Simon is a novelist, proofreader, copy-editor and blogger. This will be his first non-fiction work which he is writing alongside his second novel: The Impact of History. His first novel is available through Amazon as an ebook, Bacchus and Sanderson (Deceased). Click here, to buy it.

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A book on the process of writing a book, using a book I’m writing …


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Sorry about the title but I couldn’t think of a more descriptive way of describing what I want to do.
I am in the very early stages of planning a novel I have called ‘The Impact of History’ which is part historical, part thriller and part …well you’ll have to wait and see.
The non-fiction book that I will be blogging as I write will run concurrently with the novel and will use the novel for its examples and screenshots to illustrate the various sections of the book. I’m a little stuck on what to call it as I feel it is a different approach to the normal ‘how to write a novel’ books. For the moment I’ll call it ‘From the beginning to The End’.
I want to go through the entire process that I use, from the idea to the finished product and beyond to the marketing and promotion of the book. Each part of the process will be chapter length and offer idea’s, screenshots of my work in progress and a look at the resources on offer to make the writing process as streamlined and uncluttered as possible.
The first section is on the origin of your work of fiction and how you can develope a simple idea into a strong multi-faceted novel. This project will begin next Monday and I will post each week on my progress on both books and share where I’m up to and how the process is going. I look forward to sharing this experiment with you.

The cost of not using a copy editor and proofreader


All writers need to read this. Writing great material isn’t enough, it has to be superb. Invest in a professional

Fiction Editing for Independent authors

"Typewriters". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Typewriters.jpg#/media/File:Typewriters.jpg “Typewriters”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Typewriters.jpg#/media/File:Typewriters.jpg

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a novelist. I write obsessively with a view to achieving a publishing contract,  six figure advance and lots of international travel. Who doesn’t? I am also a realist. I consider myself to be a competent writer with good ideas and an ability to put them on to the page in something resembling the correct order. My grammar is good and my spelling is excellent, why would I possibly need a proofreader or copy-editor? The good ones cost a fortune, money spent before you have a penny back from sales of your book. And that’s assuming you sell any.

This was my view, until I realised that unless I wanted to starve while my book found a publisher, I was going to need a second income. Then I began training as a…

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Bacchus and Sanderson (Deceased) – published!


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bacchus-Sanderson-Deceased-Simon-Speight-ebook/dp/B00O7UIWDQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412671760&sr=8-1&keywords=bacchus+and+sanderson+%28Deceased%29

Today is a strangely odd day and also a day in which I feel extremely proud. My first (completed) novel has been published on Amazon as a Kindle download. It isn’t getting the benefit of tweaks by a publisher’s art department or promoted in the national press by an enthusiastic marketing department; it just has me. This book has taken six years to plan, research and write, a year or more of repeatedly rewriting it and then a number of months involved with cover design, proofreading and ultimately publishing my book.

I have learnt so much about the craft of writing, the determination and the sheer bloody mindedness of putting bottom onto chair and typing one word after another, day after day. The whole process has been hugely enjoyable and i have discovered the pleasure that can be gained from creating something from scratch, polishing it and finally presenting it.

The next part of the process; marketing my novel, will involve be another steep learning curve. I hope with the resources of Amazon to assist me and my own determination, I can sell a few copies and discover if my book is the jewel I believe it to be.

If you’re interested in having a look the link to the book is above.

Synopsis and cover letters


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Okay, this is the question. How is it possible to condense one hundred and twenty two thousand words down to two double spaced pages of A4? And now for the tricky bit, for it to tell the same story as the longer version so that your reader can glean a flavour of the story? I was amazed at how hard it was.

I had spent a few weeks viewing the task with a degree of trepidation and finding excuses not to begin. I couldn’t avoid it any longer. The book was completed, seven versions, and now I needed to send it out.

Creating a synopsis I discovered takes practice. My first effort was too long and detailed. I had written a chapter by chapter plot line that told the story, but in far to much detail. Attempts two, three, four and five were improvements, but still too long and too much detail. I turned to the internet, our new font of all knowledge and discovered it had the answer, actually many answers.

Reading the thoughts of agents and publishers who are the recipients of our endeavours, they all wanted the same thing. Brilliance, an undiscovered gem that would catapult both the agent and the author to the pinnacle of Sunday Times bestseller list and leave them there. If that were not possible they would settle for a synopsis that showed them that the author could take a story and keep it interesting, coherent and gripping over the course of a hundred thousand words. Could the author continue to deliver beyond the three sample chapters. I have learnt that an agent will read the sample chapters and then the synopsis. If the sample had promise and the synopsis sounded interesting i stood a chance. Oh also nearly every agent wanted us to spell their names correctly…

Now the covering letter. I nailed this in under ten attempts, an improvement of sorts. the essence I gleaned from my font of all knowledge was that the letter was three short paragraphs. The first paragraph was a very edited version of my story, the second an explanation of the genre and what is unusual about the book and finally a brief biography on me and the type of fiction I enjoy.

The samples synopsis and covering letters have been despatched and so I wait in hope of a response, any response.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield


The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

For a writer, all writers, this book should be required reading. Robert McKee, a screenwriting genius wrote the foreword for the book. Robert McKee said,
‘Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art for me. He undoubtedly wrote it for you too, but I know he did it expressly for me because I hold Olympic records for procrastination.’

Procrastination is the enemy of us all. In his book Steven Pressfield calls this enemy Resistance. Resistance is elicited whenever an activity requires something of us. For instance, the pursuit of writing or painting, education of any kind, diet or health regime. Or as Pressfield say’s, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favour of long term growth.

His book then goes on to characterise the forms that Resistance can take. In part two he talks about combatting Resistance and the difference between an amateur’s approach and a professional’s approach. A lovely quote is from Somerset Maugham. When asked if he wrote to a schedule or only when inspiration struck he replied,
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” He’s a professional.
This book has had a bigger influence on me than any other. It has helped me, forced me, to complete my novel. It keeps me working even though there are a thousand other things I would rather do and most importantly it has allowed me to realise that it is a privilege to do what I do: write, but I have to remember that I have to do my work everyday to keep Resistance at bay.

As always, if you like my post please like me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/worriedofwoolcombe) and leave a comment. If you don’t like my post please let me know why. Thanks

How do I market my book?


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The book is finished. The cover is commission and is underway. I’ve sent out queries to three agents, but I’m a realist. They are awash with novels from first time hopefuls of every age group, genre and level of ability. The slush pile is feet deep and growing deeper every day. I think my chances of being plucked from obscurity is slim.

So, this puppy isn’t going to sell itself, but as a person who is at best an inexperienced marketeer, what is the best approach. I have Facebook and have started posting at least daily, (www.facebook.com/worriedofwoolcombe), I’m on twitter, but need to be more tweety than I am at the moment (www.twitter.com/woolcombe1) and I’m on tumblr, but don’t do anything with it other than my blog posts go there automatically (www.tumblr.com/blog/worriedofwoolcombe). I need to build my audience, attract more followers and generate interest so that when the book is ready to go on sale i will have a group who might be happy to spread the word.

Two things i will be doing to encourage people to read the book is firstly, prior to it’s launch, make the first chapter available on this blog for people to read and pique their interest. Secondly, the first week after it’s launch all downloads of the entire book will be free.

If you’ve any ideas of effective marketing strategies please leave a comment.

As always, if you like my post please like me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/worriedofwoolcombe) and leave a comment. If you don’t like my post please let me know why. Thanks

Punctuation and Grammar


Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss Elements of Style by William Strunk Jnr.

Now that I write for a living, I am increasingly aware of the importance of not making too many mistakes with punctuation and grammar. If you spend months or even years crafting your novel, it would be awful if your prose are let down by clumsy punctuation and poor grammar. I wasn’t bad, not perfect, but not bad. Now that this is what I do full time, I needed to be as close to perfect as possible.

I tried Grammarly, an online punctuation and grammar checker. Initially, it seemed quite good. I would copy and paste my text into the program it would analyse the text and highlight my grammatical errors. Some aspects are better than others. The dictionary they use to compare your text to is awful. It doesn’t recognise many simple words offering ludicrous, or worse, no alternatives. Subscription cancelled.

Two books I have found to be incredibly helpful are: Elements of Style by William Strunk Jnr. and Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Elements of Style is an excellent textbook of correct English grammar and punctuation. A little dry, but it offers a comprehensive explanation of the different areas of grammar and punctuation as well as providing a list of commonly misused words and phrases and commonly misspelled words.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a far lighter introduction to punctuation. It covers all of the common punctuation marks , providing a history of their usage and the correct way to use them.

I hope I have benefitted from having them on my bookshelf.  Any punctuation or grammatical errors in this blog are mine alone!

Hello world


Well here I am. Me, a blogger on WordPress! I am not a complete blog virgin as I have blogged extremely sporadically on Blogger over the last year, but that didn’t end well. I mean why? Why would you?

I have struggled to see the point of blogging. Who in god’s name is going to want to listen to me droning on about what I had for breakfast? Probably nobody. Then I read some blogs from other far more talented people and realised that people want to share their lives, loves, passions and pretty much everything else. Bloggers are a source of information, humour and pathos. They are image based, photographic, textual. They rant, ramble, require input and feedback from their readers, provoke discussion and evoke emotion.  They add value to peoples lives and give their authors an outlet. People from all walks of life, all social classes can and do have their say. All you need is access to the internet, a computer and passion.

Interesting. I have passion. I like the occasional rant, when an injustice is exposed or if somebody just pisses me off. I have interests, hobbies I could bore others to death with. Also, I suspect like many bloggers, I have stuff I want to share, that I can share through the anonymous outlet of a blog. Who’s going to know it’s me? Will anybody care?

I’m a writer. By that I mean I write. I am about to finish the first draft of a novel, my first, that has taken a while to write. Partly due to the constraints of work and family and partly, no, mostly due to self doubt. I have lost count of the times I have said a metaphorical ‘Bollocks!” and devoted my time instead to literally anything else. After a while a little voice starts asking questions in my head. “Could William (one of my main characters) do this or that? Why doesn’t Felicity (baddie) do this? Can ghosts fight or will they slide through each other without touching the sides? And bang, we’re back at the computer obsessing again.

What, I have decided, I need, is feedback. Informed input from people who know, or at least don’t know me and feel they have to be nice. Nice is great, but nice because someone thinks I’m writing something worthwhile and enjoyable, would be better. So as well as the ranting and rambling I want to put sections of my novel up for the blogosphere to read and critique. The feedback I get will influence the subsequent drafts. Please don’t just be nice, be honest, constructive and then nice.

Thank you.

Next blog posting will have the first section of the prologue. I look forward to discovering if I’m the only person who likes what I write