Kickstart Your Novel — Write Your Book

 

Hello friends – It’s been a long time coming, but I have finally published my passion book! While I’m still a busy bee on my fiction work, (and excited to be on the home run with a fictional exploration of the sexbot world!) I’m also very pleased to produce a non-fiction book on the craft of novel writing. The behind-the-scenes of writing is something I love to write about, and Kickstart Your Novel is just that.

I’ve been absent from writing for about 5 years with an illness, but have finally knocked that on the head. It has been devastating as a writer to have had the ability to read and write whisked away from me — but it’s equally exciting to experience the gift of having it returned to me, and I have returned with renewed love for words, the writing life, and a desire to share my knowledge with anybody who has a desire to receive it, so, with that said I will share the introduction of my new book with you:

Dear writer,

Welcome to Kickstart Your Novel. As an author and teacher of writing, I know that the desire and passion to write is sometimes not enough to get a novel written; the road from idea to manuscript can be confusing and daunting. Kickstart Your Novel is a grassroots, simple to access, concise guide to the tools I find the most useful for getting first drafts on the page.

Every writer has their own set of tips and tricks that work for them, and I encourage you to take from here what is most useful for you and your writing habits and come back to the rest if and when you need to. Whether you’re writing for therapy, to get published or just for fun, my mission is to help you lay the foundations of your work so that you can then progress to the next phase of rewriting, editing and polishing your novel.

The important thing is to get your words on the page — then you’ve got something to work with. The expression ‘you can’t edit a blank page’ is where we begin.

Julie Proudfoot,

Kickstart Your Novel is available as an Ebook and downloadable here: Kickstart Your Novel

Word Play

You know that I love a great messing around with words, right? The opening passages from The God of Small Things are just dripping with it. Lots of alliteration, lots of rhyming syllables, lots of  repetition of strong sounds and individual letters: K/C, J, F, B. And the sentences oscillate and create a rhythm that is musical!

May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpains and die, fatly baffled in the sun.

But by early June the south-west monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn mossgreen. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across the flooded roads. oats ply in the bazaars. And small fishappear in the puddles that fill the PWD potholes on the highways. (From Page 1 of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Booker prize winner)

Creating space in writing.

In the excerpt below, I love the space created by a simple change in focus. The grandmother pauses within the story to brush flies from the child’s face, and we just know there is something wrong! Love it.

“The little granddaughter came, picking her way through the long grass. She told the grandmother that the new baby was going to have a bath and she was going to have a bath as well. Her mother had said so.

‘Is mother going to have a bath too?’ the grandmother, brushing flies away from the child’s face, asked.

‘Yes,’ the child told the grandmother. ‘All, her and me and baby.’ The grandmother was surprised….the baby and the granddaughter had been bathed.”

(P116. The Orchard Thieves, Elizabeth Jolley 1995)

Sentence: description or construction?

I want to show you something I’m reading about sentences. Let me know your thoughts.

The main point is this: “There are no descriptions in fiction, there are only constructions.” (this reading is from Philosophy and the Form of Fiction by William H Gass)

We start with a paragraph describing a character named Magister Nicholas Udal. (from The Fifth Queen, Ford Maddox Ford)

 

23998534_1758714164202960_195220738_o

Next, we look at removing the colon, and placing that sentence at the end of the paragraph to see how that changes our comprehension of the character.

24085012_1758698050871238_1938724175_o

Next, the possessives related to clothing are removed, the ‘his doctor’s gown’ is changed to ‘a doctor’s gown’ and the same with the cap.

24085298_1758707244203652_1233057853_o

And then the same is done with Udal’s features.

24008173_1758710124203364_890739700_o.jpg

24007883_1758710347536675_1139869494_o

Next, he plays around by letting him own his clothes but not his face:

24008252_1758711840869859_1008817860_o.jpg

 

 

 

from Philospophy and the Form of Fiction by William H Gass.

William H Gass & Metafiction

 

 

 

AS William H Gass was said to be the first to coin the term metafiction, I thought I’d post the paragraph in which he does. It’s from Philosophy and the Form of Fiction, an essay from his 1971 collection, Fiction and the Figures of Life, and he entertains us with a bit of attitude.

There are metatheorems in mathematics and logic, ethics has its linguistic oversoul, everywhere lingos to converse about lingos are being contrived, and the case is no different in the novel. I don’t mean merely those drearily predictable pieces about writers who are writing about what they are writing, but those, like some of the work of Borges, Barth, and Flann O’Brien, for example, in which the forms of fiction serve as the material upon which further forms can be imposed. Indeed, many of the so-called antinovels are really metafictions.

 

Jane Eyre as Meta-fiction

 

WORKING on my collation of, and obsession with, metafiction written by women, I’ve just now finished reading Jane Eyre. Why it’s taken me so long to get to this wonderful book I don’t know, actually I do know, I started many times but the dated phrasing and the occasional long-winded sentences were a bit of a block. Urged on by my Instagram friends, I dove in and committed to it. So glad I did!

AS far as the meta-fiction classification goes, Jane Eyre comes under the umbrella of a novel where the narrator intentionally exposes herself as the author of the story. This is done in such a delicate and lovely way, simple and engaging. Throughout the book, Jane, our narrator, slips in moments of addressing the reader, many times she calls to our attention by addressing us, “Reader….” and proceeds to tell us something of her intimate thoughts. The most famous, Reader, I married him. It’s delightful and personal, and endears us to her as we become again and again her private confident.

Having read this lovely work, I’m now going on to read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I’ve read WSS before, but as it’s written as a prequel and response to Jane Eyre, I’m dying to dive back in with a new interest.

 

 

Writer’s Diary 7: The Process That I Know

 

17990948_864715533678767_6006717193930404319_n

 

I’m starting another book, and this is what I now know about my writing process.

I now know that what other authors say about writing a book – that the writing of every book is no easier than the first – is a fact I have found to be true, but there are other things that I know, and the knowing makes it a calmer and enjoyable process, perhaps more enjoyable than those books that came after the first, and before the most recent.

I now know that it takes me at least a year to write a book, (others are faster and churn out a few per year, or are slower). I’ve learnt this about my style, and so I know not to expect myself to be quicker. I know that I need to make a plan for a book, and that the end result will only barely resemble that initial plan, but I need to make the plan, regardless. I know I will make many drafts, the first will be sketchy and shallow, the last will be a long and satisfying process of examining every word’s relevance in every sentence. I know that when I have finally completed that book, edited and laid out how a finished book should be, and told everyone that I have finished, the truth will be that I have, in fact, not finished. Three months later I will write one more of at least two more drafts, and I also know, that this process from start to finish is all part of what I find to be the most enjoyable part of writing a book.

Aus Women Writers Challenge 2017

aww2017-badge

Somehow I completely missed last year’s challenge. Apparently, I signed up, can’t remember that! And then proceeded to be unwell all year, so let’s start fresh!

I’m going for the Franklin Challenge this year. I will read at least ten novels by Australian women, and review a few. This is more than I usually commit to, but I’ve found Aussie women’s books are so engaging and gritty and satisfying to read that I want an excuse (and impetus) to read more. My reviews will be short this year, to free up time for my own writing and lots more reading. I’m also committing to the Classics challenge within the Aus Women’s challenge, reading at least two Aussie classics.

I’m going to leave my list open and see what comes out to grab me this year, but I will be starting with these two:25460514.jpg

Ressurection Bay (crime fiction) by Emma Viskic:

WINNER OF THE DAVITT AWARDS’ Best Adult Novel, Best Debut Book, Readers’ Choice Award. WINNER OF THE NED KELLY AWARD for Best First Fiction

Blurb: Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself. (details from Echo Publishing )

and for the Classic part of the Challenge I will start off with Human Toll by Barabara Baynton (Literary Fiction)  published in 1907. I may ‘read’ part of it as an audio as it’s a difficult read, full of Aussie slang.

human-toll.jpg

The audio is free online in a few places : LibriVox, ZippyShare, YouTube. Sue at Whispering Gums writes an excellent post on barbara Baynton and her writings. There are papers on Human Toll at Australian Feminist Studies and Uni of Woolongong, but I have yet to find a review, let me know if you see one or write one!

Blurb: WHAT was this blocking the tallow-scoop? Boshy, secretly styled ‘The Lag, ‘ or ‘One Eye, ‘ bent to see. Leisurely he thrust down a groping hand and drew up, but not out, a fatclogged basil-belt. Hastily his other hand clawed it conferringly, then with both he forced it back again into its greasy hidingplace of past long years. Cautiously his one eye went from door to window, then he rolled the fat-can with its mouth to the wall, and, going out, he took a sweeping survey. The sky and plain still drowsed dreamily, and neither the sick Boss’s home, nor Nungi the half-caste’s hut on the other side of the riversplit plain, showed sign of smoke. The only gleam of life was a breath-misted string of cows filing leisurely but lovingly to their penned calves. Boshy entered the hut and shut and bolted both door and window, then rolled the precious casket, a rusty nail-keg, before the door, and to further insure his sense of security sat on it. He made no attempt to examine his treasure. He was certain the contents of that gold-lined belt were old Miser Baldy’s hoard. For a few moments he sat quivering, gloating greedily. Musingly his one eye roamed all over the hut. Not a splinter in the walls that he, and many others, had not probed as with a tooth-pick, for this coveted ‘plant’; not a crack or mortised joint in the roof; not a mouse-hole but had been tunnelled to the bitter end, for tenant above or below. Nor had the search stopped at the hut, for had not a night-ghouling Chinaman, in his hunt for this hoard, gone the dauntless but fruitless length of disinterring and stripping poor old Baldy? And now just by a fluke he had struck it. Could it be true? Was he only dreaming? And again he thrust in a confirming hand. ‘Gord A’mighty!’ burst from him as his felt certainty electrified him

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: