Tag Archives: writing

Writing Targets

I have just read a post by Steven James about writing targets and why many writers have them. You can read it here :

We all know about the words-per-day target, or the hours-per-day target but he questions whether either of these really work in actual writing life – other than for those who are required to submit a certain amount of copy each week to their editor, or they get fired. We are talking about novelists rather than journalists, here.

All writers have their own method of staying on task; for many it has to be some sort of routine whether it is quantity or schedule. Steinbeck believed in writing one page a day, ignoring your audience and only writing to one person instead. Others insist on getting up at O’dark thirty to complete their word count before the day begins, while there are those who operate at the other end of the spectrum and write as bats and owls go about their business. Joyce Carol Oates – a prolific writer of over 80 novels alone – insists she spends much of every day staring out of her window. Each to his or her own writing clock.

James concludes with the notion – derived from calculations that will produce a 90,000 word book per year – of writing 300 words/day for 300 days/year. I haven’t checked his math, but I’ll take his word for it and understand he is being ironic. For how frustrating would that be? To get to your word limit, and ‘limit’ is the word here – 300 words is nothing – and still have another page or three to go before your ideas are all down? I understand his point, though, which is to show us that writing does not have to be this all-day slog on the days when nothing is coming. That we do not have to sit for a certain number of hours or words, as some authors insist upon, and feel guilty when all we can do is look at a blank screen or spend several hours revising. (Or writing blogs about not writing!)

I have tried forcing myself to write – both by word count or time: it didn’t work. I ended up hating the story, and writing in general. And without fail, all of the forced writing didn’t fit into the end product, exactly because it was forced.

I do not write every day. I do think every day, though; my story and characters are floating around in my head as I go about my business. I wait until one of them says or does something, and then I need to get it down immediately.

Do not get in my way.

Once I have that idea down, I can be writing for hours and then re-reading and tweaking for days until the next fallow period of thinking sets in. Somehow,  I have managed to produce several  novels this way.

So, that’s how I work. My characters have been quite chatty recently and so there has been a lot of writing going on and I like where they are taking me. I will write as far as I can and then set myself some questions to ponder for the next stage, and the next, and eventually, there will be another novel come out of it.



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Filed under Literary conversations, Writing Progress, Writing Style

Errors and editing

mistakesThank you Neil Gaiman!

I have been silent recently; silent both in blogging, and writing, and around the house. I have been preoccupied. And horror-struck. And mortified at something I read.

Mistakes; typos; grammatical inconsistencies – all horrors for an English teacher to witness. How can something go through many, many readings, editings, online grammar-checkers, and still have so many errors? It should not be possible, one would think; or perhaps you are ahead of me and are already nodding your head muttering ‘self-published authors’.

Mea culpa. The shock, horror and mortification does stem from a self-published novel: mine. My first, published in 2013, which I had no notion of anyone other than me seeing. Once I realized that people were reading it, I hurriedly raced through it again and caught what I thought were the only remaining errors, and re-published it with a sigh of relief, my pride intact. Hooray for online publishing! For believe me, I had produced the best novel I could at that time; I had read it myself at least ten times, and had farmed it out to several others for comments and suggestions. I had done what I could afford to do with a novel that no one was going to read.

Imagine my horror, then, when casually flipping pages, admiring my debut work, my eye lit upon ‘positioned himself bedside his wife’. ‘Bedside?’ Continue reading

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Filed under editing, General Thoughts, Learning through literature, Life lessons, Reflections, Writing Progress, writing style

Trollope and the creepy POV



scary_good_books_sales_2I don’t like 2nd person POV – you know the one; the one where the author keeps on breaking through the third wall addressing you where you sit, whether it be in your bedroom or kitchen or on the beach, and actually discusses things with you.

It’s creepy. I especially don’t like a long-dead author talking to me.

Much less do I want to enter into a debate about sundry opinions on life decisions, or why he’s going to leave a certain character where they are for the moment. I’m reading a novel, for Pete’s sake, I don’t want to have to think or suddenly sit upright and be on my best behavior because the author has popped in for a chat. I just want to be told a story in private, thank you very much.

I’ve read many Trollope novels so, logically, it can’t be annoying me as much as I claim – right?

Wrong. Every time he does it I cringe, I feel cornered, and just want him to take himself off behind the curtain and get on with telling the story. I have even flipped pages to get to that point; sad but true. Why do I need this?:

‘What communication there may have been between Sir Henry and his servant John is, oh my reader, a matter too low for you and me.’ ‘We cannot stay long at Suez, nor should I carry my reader there, even for a day, seeing how triste and dull the place is.”Methinks it is almost unnecessary to write this last chapter. The story, as I have had to tell it, is all told.’ Continue reading

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May 7, 2017 · 8:35 am

Mr Darcy – who are you?


We think we know what he looks like, visions of Colin Firth – poor man; forever embodying this fictional character – immediately leaping into our mind’s eye as soon as Mr Darcy is mentioned. We know he is tall, handsome and rich and aloof.

We know this, absolutely we do, because Austen tells us so. She tells us that Darcy ‘drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report … of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr Bingley.’

Austen gives the barest pencil sketch, blurred around the edges and certainly with no defining features, just so her readers could imagine whomever they wanted in that role.

And so we did.

Darcy could be fair-haired: he could be dark. He could be as tall as we wanted to make him; he could be whatever we thought ‘handsome’ was. In actual fact, Darcy was a concoction of our fantasy and imagination.  Of course, since Mr Firth, that blurred outline written 200 hundred years ago has been filled in rather well, but, still, her lack of detail has meant that different Darcys have existed in millions of imaginations for the past 200 years.

Not any more.

According to Professor John Sutherland,  the Mr Darcy Jane Austen imagined while writing her barest outline was more likely to have had a long nose, pointed chin, powdered white hair, a pale complexion, slender, sloping shoulders and a modestly-sized chest. Defined legs were also considered very attractive.

scczen_100217spldarcy2_620x310Photo / UKTV


Kind of ruins the fantasy, doesn’t it?

Read the full report that sparked this post by Hannah Furnesshttp://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11799399

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Filed under Austen, General Thoughts, Regency, writing style

New Novel Release: Felicity in Marriage

Exciting news!!!
My third novel, Felicity in Marriage, is now available on pre-order for release September 30th 2015. This starts at the beginning of the year after Pride and Prejudice ends. Lizzy’s at Pemberley, Jane’s at Netherfield and Lydia’s in Newcastle. There seems to be happiness all around until Lizzy receives a letter from Lydia which reminds her that her sister is never happy or satisfied for long. To follow your favorite characters’ lives, to listen to their gossip and understand their problems, order your copy of Felicity in Marriage today!

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Mrs. Bennet has nothing more to wish for. With three daughters married, her business in life is very nearly complete, and her delighted pride when she visits Mrs. Bingley and talks of Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Wickham with her friends may easily be imagined. Mr. Bennet is merely thankful to finally reclaim the peace and quiet of his book-room.

Their two eldest daughters, Elizabeth Darcy and Jane Bingley have certainly found felicity in marriage as the ladies of Pemberley and Netherfield, enjoying everything such positions in society command. But the marriage of the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, to the unscrupulous but charming George Wickham does not leave her parents or sisters entirely sanguine. If only the couple had not gone so far away – to Newcastle of all places – and Lydia in possession of such an unguarded and imprudent manner, certain only to worsen without her family’s steadying influence.

Step back inside the delightful world of Pride and Prejudice and Wickham’s Wife and join your favorite characters as they continue with their lives and loves. Listen to the gossip; celebrate the delights and vexations of early marriage; visit old relationships; experience country living, and the excitement of Regency London. The ending of Austen’s famous novel is just the beginning!

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Filed under marriage, novel release, Regency, relationships, Writing Progress