Friday, 29 August 2008

Authonomy 3

AUTHONOMY, Harper Collins' new writers' website, is out of beta!

You can look at it (and join) here.

Update: apparently, I may be being premature (thanks, Alan). If you can't get access to the site, then I am. My apologies.

All I can say is, it's not the butler. Probably...

I'm writing a whodunit* at the moment, and I'm not sure I'm the best person to do this, because when I read mysteries and thrillers I'm easily confused. I'm also a bad guesser of who the villain will turn out to be. Credulous, and readily misled.

But the beauty of writing a novel is that, unlike a trapeze artist doing a triple somersault to the catcher, the author does not have to get it right first time. One can nip back and insert a telling yet subtle clue. One can move scenes around until they are in the most effective order. The characters get more complex and wilful as the story progresses, which helps.

I have made my heroine and first person narrator, Caz, bright, but a little naive; and like me, she does not spot the baddie until too late.

*I can't even decide whether there is one or two 'n's in 'whodunit'.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Authonomy chart is here!

Authonomy (Harper Collins' new website for tyro writers) is still in beta, but today, to huge excitement, the charts appeared on the site.

My first novel, Torbrek...and the Dragon Variation is at number one on the chart!

Now I know I had a big advantage by being one of the first members on the site, when we all rushed round reading each other's books, and I've also been active, which makes your books noticed. But I'm still as pleased as Punch and Judy.

(I'm also number one commenter - I was at two; it's a rolling chart - which means, I think, that I backed more successful books than anyone else. I don't yet fully understand the system).

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out...

Voltaire said that, and how right he is. Writing a novel is all about selection; once you've got an idea for characters and a plot, then crucial decisions about how you tell the story have to be made. And the decision that crops up the most is what to put in, and what to leave out.

I am paranoid about not boring my readers (even though, as my books are unpublished, there are so few of them. But one must plan ahead...) If I write a scene without zing, I will re-write it until it sparkles, or delete it. And I have to trust my judgment, because although I have had excellent and helpful advice on Youwriteon and Authonomy, I have also had contradictory advice, and advice that struck me as wrong.

I am the only person, in the end, who can decide what goes in my books.

My friend Alan Hutcheson wrote:

Why write a novel? Because reading really good ones is inspirational and we want to get deeper into that magic. The magic that leaves out the boring parts and takes us to a world where it is all exciting. Maybe scary, maybe funny, maybe disgusting and maybe frightfully rousing (read that however you like). But no boring parts.Great to read, even better to create.

That's why we write novels. It gives us a chance to leave out the boring stuff.

By the way, I hope I will be able to write exciting news shortly about Authonomy, Harper Collin's new website for unpublished authors.

And Catch a Falling Star is up to 24,120 words, and counting...

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Three cheers for the internet!

I'm writing my third book, and it occurred to me how amazingly easy computers make this process. Not just Word, which I love in spite of its little ways, but how simple research has become.

Almost anything you need to know about is right there at your fingertips. No more trekking to the library to find, if it's open, that it doesn't have the book you require, or that another borrower has taken it out.

Things I have researched recently with a few clicks of the mouse:
  • Penalties for being an accessory after the fact (actually obstructing justice and harbouring a fugitive)

  • Rock star excess

  • Brit Art

  • The poste restante service, here and in France

  • Hix Oyster and Chop House

  • Rock star earnings

  • 50 Best Guy Movies, and the female equivalent

  • parking options in Notting Hill

  • hic sunt dracones

...and that's just this week...