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)

 

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

Writer’s Diary 7: The Process That I Know

 

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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.

Writer’s Diary 6: Every Sentence

 

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I recently finished a novel. It was a love novel, one of those ones you write because you love the subject or something about it. I love meta-fiction – it’s a meta-fiction novel.

But now that I have finished, what next? I’m now writing another novel, this one may be a series, but we will see.

I’ve come to realise that I missed the love I have for writing and words and sentences. I lost that lovin’ feeling with the publication of my novel, The Neighbour. I got all wound up in the expectations that I put on myself to promote on social media.

But I’ve wound all that back and loving writing again. What do I love? I love that every sentence is an opportunity to convey meaning – and that is simply it. I love sentences.

I love my chair, the blank page, and sentences.

 

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