The National Novel Writing Month is here and authors everywhere know there is no bigger motivator to finish your novel. Especially if you are a procrastinator like me.
My writing is often put on the shelf. When I do find time, I find about a hundred things to do online, checking posts, replying to messages, tweeting…you get the idea.
Let’s face it. We live in the era of distractions. Writing is hard. It involves sitting down and making your head do the work. How unjust is that when there are tempting things like facebook posts waiting for you to scroll, instagram, pinterest and Candy Crush…to name only few? Continue reading
- Author: Phil Conquest
- Published: September 2014 by Phil Conquest
- Category: Fiction, Dark Comedy
One day he will write the masterpiece that renders critics speechless and seats him on the throne of literary infamy.
It’s inside him…somewhere.
In the meantime, between going from one failed relationship to the next, he sits in his dead grandfather’s flat watching videos of nautical disasters, scorning bestselling ebook writers and searching for his elusive muse.
One day he will show them all.
All he has to do is write that first sentence…
Beginning with the violent demise of his computer by his own hand, or rather hammer, the unconventional and strange narrator drew me in almost immediately. He is a man of repetitive behaviours, habitual visits to the same few places and routinely eating the same food (potatoes and coleslaw for three weeks.) His extreme frustration at the lack of inspiration and the belief he is a literary genius, destined to write a masterpiece if only he could get past the dreaded writer’s block, jumps off the page. As soon as the intense excitement of creative power engulfs him, it’s gone leaving him out of touch with reality and reasoning that it ‘shows how potent and unstable a mix my talent is,’ which I think applies more to his balance of mind.
Living in his late grandfather’s flat surrounded by older neighbours, he feels isolated and lonely by design, yet needs emotional support. There are nine televisions usually on different channels balanced atop each other in his living room and scattered about the completely disorganised flat, among other things, are several model submarines, lights stolen from road works and a fish named Kursk, who he talks to affectionately. He often tries to commune spiritually with his grandfather..and his fish.
Sometimes I go into my grandfather’s old and now empty bedroom to meditate and try to attempt some sort of psychic connection with him, hoping he’ll come to me from the spirit world, to give me some sign or message to confirm that I am indeed destined for literacy notoriety.
Not helped by the ample quantities of alcohol he consumes, along with very strange eating habits, his agonising attempts to begin his masterpiece somehow make him quite engaging, regardless of his obvious dislike, and avoidance of, people in general and especially writers. Social media doesn’t escape his contempt and gets a severe verbal bashing. To confound even further, he goes out of his way to be kind to a lady in a charity shop, who is having a one-sided (naturally) conversation with a ceramic elephant. And when he finds a travel typewriter he’s sure it’s a sign. ‘It’s all in there, I thought. My book is in there somewhere.’
An unusual and cleverly written novella, it’s a dark, humorous and touching story. And in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the quirks and weirdness, the impossible highs and the desperate lows, he’s a compelling protagonist. I so want him to succeed before his tortured soul is pulled over the edge and into the abyss. Looking forward to the next instalment.
About the author
Phil comes from southern England and now lives in the US. He is a radical, innovative, avant-garde writer whose prose attracts readers every time it is encountered. His influences are many but he has been compared favourably with Rimbaud, Bukowski and Dosteovesky for his dark and earthy tales of outsiders on the edge.
Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack, his debut on Amazon, is the darkly comic tale of a frustrated and slightly insane would-be writer who begins taking out his “writers’ block” on the local community. Inkker Hauser Part 2 is the follow-up and contains a hysterical, surreal and agonising karaoke sequence, which will probably never be equalled.
Rum Hijack was recently included in a list of the top 50 Best Indie books of the year in 2014.
Phil’s other main interests are music and basketball – and is a fan of the Chicago Bulls. His Bukowskiesque blog, Motel Literastein, about an Englishman living on the fringes of society and sanity in a motel in Philadelphia, is controversial, confrontational and cathartic, but never dull, beautifully written and well worth following.
He will probably never return home.
Welcome, Robert and thank you for your post.
A reminder…what writers have had to do since forever
Even with the latest technology, writers have been producing work the same way for hundreds of years: sentence by sentence. There are loads of books on outlining, character development, world-building and editing but the only way to make the words appear is by putting fingers on keyboard. Whether a writer is prolific, like Stephen King, or turtle slow, like me, every word of every sentence of every book has to be typed out.
There are no shortcuts to creating a manuscript.
Typewriters have been replaced by word processors, but the results are the same. I suppose you could try the Dragon Naturally Speaking software or the equivalent and speak your golden words for the software to produce. But this method misses out on the natural filter and editor that exists between the brain and the fingertips. The voices in a writer’s head become more focused as they percolate past the elbows and wrists. Narrative and dialogue alike, are spoken internally or aloud, then refined on the page with a few backspaces (in my case, many backspaces).
No app can do it for you.
So next time you see a book and think “How the hell did she write that?” you’ll already have the answer. The same way we all do it. The only way it can be done.
Tap. Tap. Tappity. Tap.
R. M. Clark’s new adult mystery, Center Point, is available from the publisher’s website (http://www.writersamuseme.com/rmclark.htm#903985084) as well the usual online places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and iBooks. Clark’s latest middle grade book, The Secret at Haney Field: A Baseball Mystery, arrives September 16
You can find my review of Center Point here
Today, I’m pleased to welcome Paul Cross, author of A Counterfeit Priest (which is on my review list for the near future). Paul has kindly written a post charting the differences in writing a screenplay as opposed to a novel.
Paul is an award-winning screenwriter, actor, director and producer with many feature films including OPERATION TERROR, and SEVERE VISIBILITY, and television movies such as STUDS LONIGAN and AMAZONS to his credits. He is also the writer/director/producer of the award-winning documentaries, FOLLOW the LEADER and WEST END STORY. His novel A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST is the basis for his screenplay by the same title. Paul lives in Hollywood, California.
The Art of Writing a Screenplay VS a Novel
Someone asked me recently what was more difficult to write, a novel or a screenplay? The first response that came to mind was a novel. But before I answered I thought, wait a minute that’s not necessarily true. In analyzing that question one would think that because a screenplay has roughly ninety to a hundred and twenty pages, generally speaking, and of those said amount of pages most of the page is left empty with a few lines for description of the action and characters with approximately a four-inch space in the middle of the page for dialogue running down the page, that this would be easier. A novel on the other hand, has roughly anywhere from let’s say, two hundred to five hundred or more pages with the printing taking up most of the page. So it would appear at first thought that it would be harder to write a novel than a screenplay. But this can be deceptive because it’s more of a challenge to make a statement in a few words as opposed to as many as you want. Any writer, either for the screen or for a novel can tell you that it’s not easy to write a log line (a one sentence description of your screenplay or novel) or a synopsis consisting of several paragraphs of your work. Bear in mind that this work has probably taken you months, or even years to write. Frankly, I’d rather have a root canal than write a logline or synopsis. A root cannel only takes a few hours but summing up your book or film with all the many characters and plot lines that span a certain period of time takes FOREVER!
I have also done the opposite where I’ve taken a novel and turned it into a screenplay. This time the source material, the novel, wasn’t mine and I felt a genuine obligation to the novelist to try and remain true to her book. That was easier said than done. No matter how hard I tried to stay faithful to her written word, I found myself taking a sufficient amount of liberties with what she had written in order to make it cinematic. As we all know a film is a visual medium and the camera, actors, director, etc., can fill in a lot of what’s not written in the script. But this can’t be done the opposite way around. In a novel it all has to be on the page because the visual is being created for you only with words. You, the reader is the one who has to provide the mental images with help from the writer of course. In a novel the reader becomes the director, the director of photography, and the actors since you imagine how they are saying their dialogue and how they’re moving. This is all part of the excitement of reading.
After I had novelized my screenplay A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST, I then revisited the script in an attempt to add some of the elements that I had the freedom to include in the novel. This, I soon discovered was a trap. It was great building up all my characters from the screenplay for the book, but,…I soon found out, after adding seventy plus pages to my script bringing the total page count to one-hundred eighty-five, that there simply was no room to put all this new information and I’m still trying to find a way to make some of the new stuff fit in. It’s like having a suit that you bought when you weighed 170 pounds, and then gaining an additional fifty pounds while still trying to fit into the suit you bought before you became fat. You just can’t squeeze it all in no matter how hard you try! If a script is more than 120 pages and that’s pushing it, then no one who’s a professional in the film industry is going to take your script seriously when you try to get it produced. So if you were going to a wedding and you’ re dead set on wearing that suit, there would be no choice other than losing the extra fifty pounds! And we all know that’s not an easy feat to accomplish. However, the good news is it can be done, it just takes a fair amount of time and discipline.
I discovered early on in my screenwriting career, that brevity was a key factor in writing a film. It was one of the most difficult aspects of writing for the screen that I had to learn and get the hang of. After writing several screenplays and by watching an incalculable amount of films, I eventually fell into the groove. Also, reading books whose topics are of interest to me by authors I related to and who I found I was emotionally and creatively compatible with, I was able to gauge their technique so to speak and adapt it to my own style of writing. I could not, I soon disappointedly discovered by trial and error, write as much as I wanted to just because I was writing a novel. Writing a book didn’t mean that I could write on and on until I discovered that I had written an encyclopedia. My first draft of A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST was almost double in page count then it ended up being in the final draft which is 366 pages. I finally had the freedom from brevity and the confinements of script writing, but still needed to stay on topic and not deter from ‘what is this book about?’ Babbling on and on not only runs the risk of boring the reader to tears, but can also confuse the point that you’re trying to make.
There’s no end to this topic I suppose, but the final analysis is this. Writing a screenplay and writing a novel are two totally separate worlds demanding different approaches as each has its own unwritten ‘rules’ and techniques. To really find out what the differences are I suggest doing two very enjoyable exercises on a daily basis. Watch films and read books. You will find that the answers are right there in front of you.