Wednesday, 29 July 2015

More rambling through the wilderness: N M Browne

I fear that all my posts here have been a bit writing obsessed. That’s because I am a bit writing obsessed.  I am still wading through the quagmire of story, still in the wilderness trying to hack back the undergrowth with a blunt machete to find my way.

I am sorry if that makes my posts a bit samey. It is making my life a bit samey too: like a video on loop. I keep returning to the same sentences, changing them, then rereading them and changing them again.  You see, I have to sound like a twelve-year old boy and the prolix middle-aged woman keeps on sneaking out through inappropriate qualifiers, peeping out through syntax that ought to have died with the Edwardians. She is a pain this middle aged woman. She will keep mucking up the flow of the story with random passages of overwritten prose. Then when I walk away from my desk, make yet another hot beverage I take pity on her. She’s doing her best, not everything she does is dreadful, she’s just out of touch. Oh shit! She’s me.

How can someone in this state have anything useful to share?

 I am sadly not a writer who can think about the sales pitch before I have the book. Maybe I’d be a best seller if I could.

In this particular story I’ve had to tease the plot out as I go, extruding it through some subconscious mechanism I don’t understand but which seems to run on an unhealthy mix of coffee, wine and youtube videos. I am not complaining, I am very happy to be working. I am however apologising for doing EVERYTHING WRONG. If you are or have ever been a student of mine - cover your eyes.

I don’t know what my story is about. If you were to ask me, as kind people occasionally do because its nice to take an interest in the weirdo in the corner, I say;’ It’s a children’s book,’ then, ‘It’s a magical thing about a boy. It’s a bit of a strange story. I’m not expecting much of it.’ THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT. We must all have an elevator pitch rehearsed ready for that question. We never know who might ask it so we must, like literary girl scouts, always be prepared. Similarly, the same gentle, patient interrogator, valiantly making conversation with this dippy woman pretending to be a writer might ask:  ‘and who is it for?’ Sadly they will get by way of garbled reply something like‘ Well, it’s younger, not YA but not very young maybe nine or perhaps twelve.’ They are entitled to regard me as a rank amateur. A children’s writer should know their target market, should gear the text to meet the needs of a particular kind of reader.

My way is not the way to write. It is definitely not the way to sell but sometimes it is the only way you can proceed. 


 Obviously after this last round of word wrangling, and plot untwisting I will be able to share helpful stuff about how to bag a million readers with nothing more than a facebook page and a digitised arrangement of well-ordered words. I’ll explain how to negotiate film rights and build an audience on twitter. Or not. Till then all I have is the wilderness and my blunt machete…

8 comments:

Waino said...

I get it Nicky x

Catherine Johnson said...

But that is what it's like for a lot of us. Hack away Nicky xxxx

Penny Dolan said...

A lot of us here in the interminable undergrowth! Keep at it.

Susan Price said...

You tell it like it is, Nicky!

Nick Green said...

I wouldn't worry about 'sounding too old to be a 12 year old boy' until at least the second draft. I'm always astonished by some of the old-sounding language and thoughts that come out of kids even half that age. By trying to capture a child's tone of voice we can risk patronising them. An intelligent child's inner voice may not change noticeably from 12 to 40. I'm pretty sure mine hasn't changed much.

Lydia Bennet said...

If your protagonist has had an unusual upbringing, they may well not sound at all like a 'normal' 12 year old boy. To be honest I find it a bit cringey when people write supposedly tween or teenage voices and try too hard to make them use 'modern' slang. - slang is surprising, in fact early 20s and poss younger, have for some time used 'oh my days' and the new expression on the block, certainly in my neck of the woods, is 'good egg'. I've noticed that many writers do create characters with unusual lives, which does help with the language in so far as nobody can argue with your usages! Re the whole marketing and elevator pitching, i've had all that told to me a gazillion times and have tried doing it but it's not me either.

Nicky said...

I don't know what normal is either but I do know that a twelve year old who sounds like me is too weird for even my stories!

mccart said...
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