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 creative writing is something I am passionate about, and Kickstart Your Novel is just that.
With that said, I will share the introduction of my new book with you:
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.
My favourite meta-fictional work, At-Swim-Two-Birds, is a meta-fiction-feast – a story within a story within a story within a story within a story. And my favourite section of AS-T-B has the characters of one story give the writer a good beating. It’s not so much the thrashing I love, but that the characters take revenge on the author. It’s a scenario that I’d love to include in my own novel one day.
And I couldn’t help myself, I’ve written my own little meta-fictional work, but it doesn’t have an author beating. At present it’s doing the rounds of agents, so wish it luck will you? The main character, a homeless man, (male mental health is a theme that runs through all my books to date) befriends a woman who is a struggling author. She steals his life story to use as a novel, and as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent this story is the novel itself.
Over the years I’ve read a few meta-fictional works that I’ll list elsewhere on this blog. I’m gradually adding the notes that I made at the time of reading, not reviews of the books, but simple notes that I made with no intention of blogging – at the time there was no such thing as blogging, let alone an internet.
As a bit of a guide to understanding meta-fiction Wikipedia lists these common meta-fictive devices in literature:
A story about a writer who creates a story
A story that features itself (as a narrative or as a physical object) as its own prop or MacGuffin
A story containing another work of fiction within itself
A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots
A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story
A book in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader
A story in which the readers of the story itself force the author to change the story
Narrative footnotes, which continue the story while commenting on it
A story in which the characters are aware that they are in a story
A story in which the characters make reference to the author or his previous work
A related genre is the self-reflexive novel: a fictional work in which the author refers to themselves in the work, and/or refers to the work itself.
And then there is the anti-novel which is better described as a more experimental work. Dictionary.com defines anti-novel as, ‘aliteraryworkinwhichtheauthorrejectstheuseof traditional elements of novel structure,especiallyinregardtodevelopmentof plot and character.’ Wikipedia defines the anti-novel as, ‘any experimental work of fiction that avoids the familiar conventions of the novel, and instead establishes its own conventions.’
Of course, a novel can be one or all of the above, makes definitions complicated, doesn’t it.
Writers absorb the world around them and churn out thoughts through their fingers and onto the page (or screen). As we speak we are waist deep in a communication revolution that is transforming the way we think about the production of the novel.
Perth Writers Festival’s recent Twitter Novella is a perfect example of this new era of novels. Fifty writers (including yours truly) contributed two tweets each to a work read out at the festival, and tweeted via the @PWFNovella twitter handle. Writers were asked not to spend too much time on the work but be instantaneous, keeping with the essence of twitter, so the end result was vibrant if not a little bit strange. The work itself is a pure example of new ways of writing taken from the world around us. You can watch the event here with authors Annabel smith and Andy Griffiths presenting.
Annabel Smith’s novel, The Ark, is a perfect example of our world naturally influencing the entire structure of novels. With its use of various messaging systems including emails, and encrypted messaging programs to construct the novel. I love nothing better than to curl up in bed and turn the yellowed pages of a classic, but taking on board the ways people communicate as they go about their normal day, to incorporate in written work, engages people in reading and writing in a way that they want to be interacting, and in the process it has created a whole new genre.
There are whole areas devoted to the discussion of alternative-text within written works (Google Alt-Lit), and it comes with vast and detailed real life involvement, but that is another blog post.