Tuesday, 21 August 2007

What kind of writer am I?

In a previous post, Tom mentioned that he wanted writers to feel good about and therefore enjoy working on the book. I'm definitely one of those who needs to hear praise alongside the criticism, however constructive, so was pleased to see that he was liking the general direction the book was going in. I veer wildly between being reasonably confident about my writing and then, a short time later reading exactly the same words and thinking that they're rubbish.
That's why I've decided to just write the thing, warts and all. I'm aiming for 65,000 words and then plan to flesh some of the earlier sections out to take into account Tom's thoughts.
For now, I just want to get the first draft done, which should be about 8 weeks away. The final manuscript is is due at the end of December
The only thing I've gone back to is the prologue. I couldn't help myself - there was a dramatic incident involving the 14-year old me on a ferry to Sweden that had to be told. It was also a nice lead-in to why my passion for football came about.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Dave's thoughts on Tom's editorial thoughts

It was exactly the kind of guidance I was hoping for, because I want this book to be as good as it can possibly be. And even though I've had many years experience in writing ads, there's a lot I don't know about writing books. Structure is the thing I have most difficulty with and knowing I'll be getting help with it is quite a relief. As for the other things I need to put in - sense of place, more backstory, building up the other characters more - these are things I can do once I've finished the first draft, although I did a bit of work on it today, particularly the prologue. I have now added a bit more about this West Ham team - the one I was expecting to see line up against Bromley.
Since I sent Tom the early chapters, I've written a further 7,000 words, which I'll send to him next week. Watch this space....

Editorial Thoughts on Editorial Thoughts

Those, then, are my initial editorial comments to Dave. How do they compare to other editorial notes? Every book is different, and every writer has their strengths and weaknesses to tease out and tighten up. I think Dave has that natural writer thing going, so I'm seeing these comments as more general pointers about shape, rather than about any specifics that need tackling. I always find these notes a bit of a balancing act -- you need to give the writer constructive criticism, but at the same time don't want to knock their confidence. That last point is crucial -- you want the writer to feel good and enjoy working on the book: if they're worried about small details, they (and the book) are never going to get the benefits of writing in full flow. It's very easy to emphasise the negatives and forget the positives, so here's a couple to end with: it's already funny -- the material really made me chuckle; and it's already poignant -- I could relate only too well to the insecurities of being a teenage boy and supporting a lousy team. I'd say it's the writing equivalent of being one up after ten minutes. I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

Editorial Thoughts # 4: Characters

My final thought to Dave is about characters. Although the book is based around his experiences, it is important to build up a bunch of other main characters too. I think he has started doing this in the early pages, but wanted to flag up for him to keep doing so. As well as Dave as the narrator, we need half a dozen or so main characters in the text too. Dave needs to decide who they are, and keep their presence up in the book. My last preliminary comment is more of a question – who does the title the Bromley Boys refer to? My assumption (and it may be wrong) is that it refers to the small band of die-hard Bromley fans he falls in with. If so, this needs to come out strongly, to make sure the book is about the Bromley Boys, and not just the Bromley Boy.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Editorial Thoughts #3: Structure

The difficulty in doing a book like this, when it’s the story of the season, is to let the chapters become defined by the football matches. I think Dave should watch this: as an overall arc, the football season works perfectly, as you’ve got a built in beginning and end: in terms of one match following another, they give you a narrative in a chronological sense, but not necessarily in a plot one. So Dave should make sure he is shaping chapters around plot points, as for example, in the chapter where he runs away from school to watch the match. My advice is this: work out the main plot points, and group the matches in chapters accordingly. Also, he shouldn't be afraid to miss a match, or talk about a couple together if it helps the flow of the narrative. Finally, on this point, his sections within each chapter can sometimes be quite short. Short sections can work well in places, but have more effect when used sparingly. On the whole, I’d aim for longer sections, and ‘stitch’ some of these together.