When I look at the writing resources around the internet there seems to be an over emphasis on best practice.

This suits me fine, I’m not really qualified to write about best practice, but boy do I know about worst practice.

So, here we go. How not to write a book Part 1
Start off by being pissed off with your job, this will lead to petty and vindictive thoughts. While driving home, run with these thoughts, let them evolve into plots. Don’t place boundaries on yourself, if you want to go down the Doctor Evil path, feel free. Don’t worry about speed limits and vicious lane changes, they’re all part of the creative process.

When you get home turn on your computer and start writing an email to the anally retentive, bureaucratic, petty, limp d**k, who is the cause of your current creative burst.

Note : DO NOT LOG ONTO THE INTERNET. YOU CANNOT SEND THIS EMAIL, WRITERS NEVER MAKE MONEY, YOU NEED THIS JOB.

So what do you do? Well, you have this evil plan in your head why not write it down. Yeah, and then get it published, and when it’s a best seller everyone will know what a pr**k the guy is. Yeah.

Do not start with a short story. Your first piece must be a novel.

At this point do your first bit of research. Pull a book off your shelf, count the words on the page and then count the number of pages. Put that book back and look for a skinnier one with larger font. If you’re lucky you’ll end up with a battered 1950’s SciFi novel. Ok, that’s your target, 55,000 words.

Like you care!

The short answer is I don’t really remember.

I remember where the first idea came from. I used to work in an Intensive Care Unit and we had these really noisy laminar flow units (air curtains) which also served as the air conditioning for the unit. On night shift we regularly turned a few of them off, but we were told if we turned them all off, water (from somewhere unexplained) would back up and flood the ICU. I had this vision of the ICU becoming a huge ornamental lake with a tasteful hospital ward motif.

I didn’t have a story yet, just this scene, which I later transposed into an office flooded by a dope hydroponic system set up in someone’s cubicle.

If you are one of those lucky buggers with a completed manuscript (we all know it’s luck not hard work) and are ready to begin the hunt for an Agent/Publisher, have a look at The Evil Editor.
You send him your query letter and he publically ridicules you. Very funny, especially when it’s not your query.

It’s definitely worth a look, although if you are only looking for information it’s may not be one you’ll want to subscribe to. You can learn most of what you need to know from past submissions.

He occaisionally answers questions. This week one of his minions asked how often a writer should revise their MS at the request of an publisher in hope of getting a contract. In response he has created a points system that could go on to become standard tool for confused authors.

For those struggling with Nanowrimo, I recommened beer and trampolines.

Nanowrimo Podcasts

12, November,2006

For any out there having a crack at Nanowrimo – first, you are all psychopaths, second, jealousy is oozing through my pores that you have been able to make the time to do it.

So, go you good things, rattle those keyboards.

If you need more motivation try the Nano Monkeys podcast. It’s a short term effort by Mur Lafferty (of Geek Fu Action Grip and I Should Be Writing), P.G. Holyfield, “KJ” Johnson of The Round Table, and Chris Miller of Podiobooks.com and The Round Table.

Other is motivation awating at the Nanowrimo podcast which is brought to you by Darusha Wehm of the Golden Hammer blog and podcast.

If you don’t know what Nanowrimo is have a look at the National Novel Writing Month website.

Books that stop you editing

10, November,2006

Recently I picked up a much touted ‘International Best Seller’. I had my eye on it for quite a while and when the haul from my last birthday included a book voucher I decided the time was right. I marched down to Dymocks and bought it – it was rubbish (and no it wasn’t the DaVinci code, which I quite enjoyed).

The author could actually write, unfortunately, she had hidden her quite excellent 300 page story, in a 1000 page tome.

On the upside it led to the most productive writing /editing period of the past 6 months. I pondered on this, then looked back at my reading over the past 12 months. Here is what I found.

In the good pile are Terry Pratchet, Jasper Fforde and Neil Gaiman. They all stop me in my tracks, but their books are relatively short and they spark off my imagination, so when I finish I feel inspired to write.

Not so good are Epic Fantasies, which I love to read, but are not what I write. They suck me in and they take so long to finish (damn trilogies). I am reading Russell Kirkpatrick’s Fire of Heaven trilogy at the moment (3 x 500 pages) and I can feel my productivity slipping.

In the middle is Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy. It kept me from putting pen to paper for a while, but I was ready to write when I finished.

Funnily enough the worst is Robert Rankin. After finishing one of his novels I am no good for anything for about 2 weeks. I have no idea why, maybe it’s shellshock.

The count begins!

3, November,2006

Welcome to Count down to a million words.   Another blog by a “would be if they could be” author.

I am currently editing my first novel, in which I did pretty much everything wrong, but I’m not too worried.  To quote Mur Lafferty of the I should be writing podcast, “it’s ok to suck”, on that basis my manuscript is ‘ok’, so I’ve got that.   I look at it as the (depressingly small) first installment in the one million words I need to craft before I’m ready to be published.

While I’m not a ‘gun’ author, I do subscribe to numerous podcasts and blogs. What you will get here, apart from my own fetid musings on writing, is a filtered view of what is happening in the writing blogosphere and podosphere.  I promise I won’t burden you with my own fiction or (shudder) poetry.

If this sounds interesting I invite you to join in, if not, sod off and find something more interesting to do with your life.