Sunday, 20 February 2011

Back from Conference

What a day at my 2nd Get Writing conference at Hatfield University, organised by the good people of Verulam Writer's Circle. So now my creative batteries have been recharged for another year, filled with inspirational and motivational speaking from publishers, agents, buyers and of course the writers.
The difference between last years and this years is the rapid growth of technology. I cannot recall Twitter being mentioned at all last year and yet this year it was not just mentioned but indeed promoted. One speaker went so far to say "if you're a writer and you don't use Twitter...why?" Personally I don't get it. I haven't got to grips with how to use Twitter in a functional way in terms of networking with people within the literary world and having to do this within 140 characters. When it comes to words I can't see myself being that economic. I have a Twitter account, and I use it to promote this blog, but I'm not reaching the right Twitterers.

Kindle has taken the book world by storm, with millions of people giving them as presents to their loved ones at Christmas. I was no exception. Indeed I received my Kindle in November for my birthday. Today,I came away from the conference with mixed feelings about my newfound boy toy. As I have said in a previous post, I have been on a massive binge-read since November, but I now share the guilt that our beloved bookstores are seriously under threat.
I have not turned my back on P-books or tree books as they are now described, and have purchased real books since having my Kindle. I think readers, writers and booksellers have to think seriously about how we can all benefit from this change. Waterstones, WHSmiths and other retail outlets need to look at how they can    compete with Amazon. One delegate suggested bookstores need to remain in the High Street so readers can browse and handle the books physically and then decide whether to purchase the paper book or download to a flash drive in store. I for one would prefer to do that than online.
It has been suggested that there could be an alternate market for writers who may want to think about writing specifically for the e-book  market, with shorter 'Kindle-sized paragraphs, short stories, novelettes and perhaps serialized stories. Instead of waiting for the Tsunami, the booksellers should by all means embrace the change and go with it, but not without finding a way to preserve the printed page.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Get Writing 2011

I forgot to mention, I am going to Get Writing 2011 conference on 19/02/11 (this Saturday). I went to this event last year and got to meet crimewriter Mark Billingham. Interestingly enough, crime is a favourite genre of book reading for me, and I don't generally read comedy although I write it. Mark Billingham said, "don't write comedy, it is too difficult," but although he's an award winning crimewriter, when he's not writing he does stand-up comedy on the comedy club circuit.

This years keynote speaker is writer/broadcaster Sue Cook. There will also be publishers and agents addressing the conference and some handy workshops too.

I know its late in the day but there are a limited number of spaces left..

Structure and motivation.

From time to time I do correspond and meet with other writers. Whenever people mention structure and planning to me I go quiet. When forced into a corner I will mutter something about my writing being a journey, and that the journey is a mystery tour because sometimes even I don't know where it's going. I have come to believe if it's a good trip for me then it will be a good trip for my reader or audience.
Editing this somewhat haphazard modus operandi of writing can be an arduous task, because I am trying to establish some structure, shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
A screenwriting friend recently Skyped me from NY and recommended "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder, which is supposed to be the last word on screenwriting.
I got my book delivered from Amazon with 3 days and within 3 days more I had read it. Snyder's book left me so motivated I felt like an athlete poised at the starting blocks.
I rushed out to Ryman Stationery and bought a large notice board, index cards and coloured pens. I then produced a template for my 'Beat Sheet' and wrote the story divided into 15 specific beats which were so specific they reserve in advance what page number they will be on.
I'm at the 'Board' stage now, that's Board and not Bored, which I have sectioned off into Acts 1, 2 and 3, (2 being sub-divided into two parts) and then commence to write my Scenes on the index cards. When they are all on the board, all 40 of them, then I can adjust my structure at this stage, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, which is a whole lot better than rearranging whole chunks of writing, as you cannot see a whole script in one glance.
Blake Snyder says a lot more about scene writing and character development, but you'll need to buy the book to find out more.
I haven't lost that 'journey' experience I previously had in my writing. The journey happens for me in putting my beat sheet together and then on the storyboard.
None of this is writing, but boy the writing will flow so much better when I know where I am going. I hope my fingers can keep up.
My partner read my beat sheet, and said "It's not your usual style of writing, and there is no comedy there." I pointed out to her that it isn't my writing at all until I go to the laptop and  bring the story to life by adding richness and depth to the characters, location and storyline.
Comedy is absent from my story at the planning stage, because story is paramount, and comedy is my preferred style of presenting my characters as the story unfolds. I don't plan comedy.
I'm writing a film script this time. I don't expect it will ever go into production because it involves location expenses and no producer would do that for a new writer. It is a story I have wanted to tell and for me it's a worthwhile project in my mission to develop into a writer in my latter years.
Its called Midnight at the Alhambra, and I will post a sample in the near future.