A Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog.
I hope that this year you all get your heart’s desire, whatever that may be, as it’s unlikely to be:
A. Taking Over the World
B. Banning tea drinking
C. Making the wearing of black socks, white trainers and check trousers obligatory.
This year began on a good note for me regarding writing.
…Well, not exactly as regards the formatting and the cover of my sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ and ‘Ravensdale’. I had even hoped that they would be ready early enough for me to have it out before Christmas, but that was being optimistic.
…Still, I did get a message praising the writing style and structure of my spoof historical romance ‘Ravensdale’ yesterday.
Hopefully, I don’t make a point of repeating compliments. The reason I mention this one is that readers probably don’t realise how much writers treasure those messages.
And that made me think – how often do I compliment writers whose work I admire myself? With my writer friends whose work I Beta read, who by definition are writers whom I admire, naturally I do as I read through – but the others?
One tends to think that they would be indifferent if they are fairly well known – but is this the case? Perhaps it is only true of those who can rely on a best seller every time they write a book.
Well, of course, a lot of the writers whose work I do read being classic writers, tend to be dead.
That does rather limit the possibilities of communication.
It is true that Arthur Conan Doyle , whose Sherlock Holmes stories I am fairly unoriginal in loving, was interested in spiritualist communication. In fact, he wrote a novella based on it, part of the Professor Challanger series, ‘The Land of Mists’ (1926).
If I could contact Conan Doyle, I doubt he would wish to hear from anyone about Sherlock Holmes, which he regarded as ‘inferior work’ compared to his ‘serious’ historical novels such as ‘The White Company’ Unfortunately for how he wished to be remembered, few people read this serious work today compared to those millions who read Sherlock Holmes.
I tend to think that if he heard, from the beyond, that Sherlock Holmes is as popular as ever – 1,090 in the Kindle Store on Amazon.co.uk alone today – he would be dismayed at what he considred to be the public’s inexplicable fascination with his creation.
…And that, of course, is leaving aside international sales of Sherlock Holmes books, the fllms, and televison series; the board and other games, the takings of the Sherlock Holmes museum in Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes tours in London…
I don’t suppose, eiher, wherever they may be now, that Pushkin, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne Bronte and the others care very much either about the fate the writing that they once did in this sphere or the opinion of one reader . I suspect that they must have gone on to greater things. That is one of the reasons why I never feel guilty about saying the harshest things about the writing of any dead author. Living ones are a different matter. It would take a novel that romantises rape, for instance, for me to leave a one star review for any living author.
On writing and New Year’s Resolutions here’ s mine. I have made it several times before, in fact, every time I am halfway through a novel. I suspect it may be one made by many writers.
I must write a plan of my next novel, instead of knowing the beginning and the end, with a few scenes along the way which must be included, but having no idea at all how to get to that ending.
There are excellent plans available online which obviously, can be really useful: here’s one
I have to admit I have never writen one of those plans yet – in fact, it looks harder work than writing the novel. I just write ‘off the top of my head’, which can be nerve wracking, but feels easier for a frequently disorganized person (and that’s another New Year’s resolution I should make).
I can see the massive advantages to having a plan – for instance, it helps solve writer’s block problems, provides balance, and ensures that you don’t leave out anything essential. You also keep in mind what you are aiming for in the novel and how best to effect that.
I don’t know how many writers feel this way and whether it is best to stick to the approach that comes most naturally to one’s temperment. Oddly enough, I have never asked one writer friend whether or not they write a plan of their stories.
That is one of the reasons why I was so pleased to be congratulated on the structure of ‘Ravensdale’, written, like the others, off the top of my head.