Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Editorial Thoughts #2: The Set Up

I love the opening prologue and think that the pre-season friendly with West Ham Dave has chosen a perfect contrast for what is to come. I actually think he could make a bit more of it – really big up the Hammers, talk about their world cup stars, deciding whose autograph he is going to ask for first, etc. I also think that what the book needs at the beginning – and I don’t know whether this should be in the prologue or the opening chapters – is a little more ‘locating’ the story. Firstly, in sense of place. This is the first time we visit the Bromley ground, and although it is familiar to Dave, needs bringing to life for the reader. Secondly, in terms of Dave's support for the club. Why is he a Bromley fan? Is there a family connection? Why is this his first match, when he has supported them for a while, etc? A memory or two of the World Cup in 1966 (must have had a big impression on a ten year old boy) wouldn’t go amiss. My instinct would be to give a bit more about the ground in the prologue, and flesh out the fan stuff in the opening chapter.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Editorial Thoughts #1: More Dave, please.

It’s a funny thing to say when someone is writing a personal story, but I think that the narrative needs a bit more ‘Dave’ in there. Firstly, a bit more backstory, especially of the non-football kind to flesh out the character. Secondly, a bit more emotion: there a few points when I want to know Dave's reaction, rather than just what happens in the football match. As a fan, you must be happy, gutted, etc. Although it’s the story of the season, it’s also Dave's story too – the more the writer gives the reader, the more they’ll respond.

What Kind of Writer is Dave?

Dave has sent me the opening couple of chapters of The Bromley Boys for some early comments. They’re an advance on the material I bought the book on, though I do have some thoughts (of course) which I’ll post up here. I always find it interesting how authors respond to initial comments: they tend to fall into two categories in my experience – the ones who want to tinker with the opening chapters until they are perfect, and the ones who want to finish a complete first draft before even thinking about rewriting. There are pluses and minuses to both approaches: the danger with the former is that you spend so long fine-tuning, you never get the whole thing finished; the danger with the latter is that if you start with bad habits, they can run throughout the book and take longer to unpick. In this case, my advice to Dave here would be to carry on – the writing is in more than good enough nick here to do that – though if he feels he’d rather take stock, I’d more than understand.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Just when everything seemed to be running smoothly...

...my computer screen has turned blue, making it slightly difficult to see what I'm typing. Apart from that, I'm on schedule to finish the book by the end of December as long as I can stick to my current pace.
The trick, I've discovered, is not to think in terms of writing, say, 70000 words, but breaking it down into less intimidating chunks of 500 in the morning and 500 in the evening.
Thanks to Bromley Public Library's research and information service, I now have the match reports for every game in the 1969/70 season and reading through them has revealed the kind of stories you couldn't make up. In my memories, Bromley were a superb team, playing dashing football. The reality, it appears, was somewhat different. They were almost comically inept.
But just as importantly, today's playlist while writing. A lot of Cast, a bit of The Shins, some Fountains of Wayne and THIS song by Johnny Boy (their only song as far as I know).

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Progress report

I've been planning out the chapters of the book in more detail and apart from the realisation that I have another 60,0000 words or so to write in just over 5 months, I'm quite happy with the way it's going.
But why these pictures? Well, they're all people whose paths crossed with mine as a 14-year-old back in 1969/1970, and they'll all be appearing in The Bromley Boys.
The only one you might not recognise is Judo Al Hayes, who left Bromley to find fame in American wrestling as the stereotypical English toff, Lord Alfred Hayes.