Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Archive for the ‘About writing’ Category

Project 10K December 2017

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Plans for December? Nope. Life has gone slightly awry since the month started.

November goals:

1. Did you meet your writing/editing goals?

Yes, I completed NaNoWriMo successfully.  I wrote 50000 words and that seems to have exhausted my creative juices. I also had a successful pitch event on 27th November with a lovely agent who gave me some great suggestions on my book. Now I need to pull my finger out and make the changes she suggested before resubmission.

2. Did you have fun writing?

Yes, definitely and I want to keep on writing about my new character’s life.

3. Did the P10K help with motivation?

Yes, because posting my plans is a great way to keep me on track and accountable.

4. Anything else you want to tell us?

I don’t think anything else exciting happened in November. It was all about NaNo and the opportunity to pitch.

 

December goals:

December has started like a damp squib – any writing will be a bonus.

1. Read 9 books and get them back to the library by the end of the month.

2. Edit the first 3 chapters (approx 8k-words) of my book post-pitch.

3. Get a 1000-word ‘Christmas’ story ready for my writers’ group on 12th.

4. Participate in one Friday Fictioneers’ challenge – I’ve missed the last two.

 

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

December 9, 2017 at 10:30 pm

#NaNoWriMo – getting there – #amwriting

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NaNoWriMo was progressing well, slowly but surely. It is good to have a word counter that also gives percentages. By the end of day two, I had written 3800 words, which I was reliably informed was 8% of the target, and this gave me hope. Strange the effect percentages can have compared to raw numbers.

The words were flowing freely, but that might be because I am writing a stream of consciousness novel, in the present tense. I wondered if I might get stuck with nothing to say mid-month. I didn’t, and haven’t now I’m nearing the finish, but on day 9, I went back to the beginning. My story had gone off-track; I was venting about my stuff rather than discussing what my character needed to say.

I lost a couple of ‘home alone’ days late in the month as they were filled with other stuff or hubby’s appointments were cancelled. This meant I needed to work harder at the front end of the month. All good in theory, but on 6th Nov I received an email inviting me to pitch my existing novel on 27th. So I had a new priority, learning how to pitch a novel and getting the pitch word perfect. My NaNoWriMo word count fell behind and I have consistently remained about two days behind where I need to be. I worked on my pitch, which got me back into my novel, but the structure of the pitch was superfluous in terms of the lovely informal chat I had yesterday. I am still unsure if I am able to summarise my novel in an enticing way given that Broo Doherty had read my synopsis and first three chapters and had lots of useful advice on how to take the work forward.

The good thing with this year’s NaNWriMo has been that, as I get the bare bones down, I can see where I need to go back and pad out with muscle. As this story takes place in one day, with flashbacks telling the reader how my protagonist came to be standing on the edge of a cliff, there is going to be a lot of cutting and pasting to make a coherent narrative. Character back-stories will need to be developed and incorporated on a third or fifth draft, but I am hopeful I am making notes of these requirements as I go. This is a development from my previous NaNoWriMo attempt in 2014, which was put away and only resurrected relatively recently. As I read through it last month, I noticed the holes and found a whole load of other stuff that needs explaining more fully, as well as characters I’m not sure are needed. Hopefully by the end of this month I will have 50000-words and maybe another 1000-words or more of questions to answer/ research to do to make the story consistent, which is more than I managed last time. I am only just identifying the jobs needed to sort out my 2014 efforts. At 42000-words or thereabouts this time, and with only two-days until the finish, I might not ‘win’ this year, but at least I took part and wrote a story that didn’t exist a month ago.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 28, 2017 at 9:09 pm

How to pitch a novel? #amwriting

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How do you? Please can someone send me the foolproof answer, like yesterday?
I’ve looked online, read a number of articles, and tried to sit through some Youtube videos. So far I know I need:

(1) a hook/ the elevator pitch – the attention grabber in around 20-words;
(2) 2-3 paragraphs/ 2-3 minutes about the book including title, genre, setting, protagonist, the conflict and how she overcomes it. These words need to be simple, clear, irresistible, and an interesting description of the novel that captures its best qualities and sells it in a most intriguing way;
(3) to be confident in my presentation;
(4) to say why I was best placed to write this book and where the idea came from;
(5) to say what is unique about my book;
(6) to identify where the book will sit on the bookshelf and comparative works/ authors;
(7) to know about my prospective agent and the authors she represents and where I might fit on her list.

I have less than a week until my pitch. I will never be (3). I think I have the answers to (4 -7). I am still at a complete loss with (1) and (2), which are sort of the important bits. I keep writing and re-writing the opening to the pitch hoping the killer lines will appear eventually.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm

The Telepathwriter – Using every opportunity #amwriting

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An elbow to the ribs in the middle of the night, as hubby woke suffering excruciating cramp, got me thinking. He was asleep ten minutes later whereas I didn’t drop off again for another four hours. I read a bit, usually a sure fire way to drop off, but not this time. I scribbled a bit, in the notepad by my bed by torchlight, and worked on some 100-word stories as well as drafting this blog post. After two-and-a half hours of lying quietly growing ever more frustrated, I thought about getting up and making myself a drink and hitting the laptop. However, hubby and I live in a very small space with creaky floorboards and I would have woken him. While he says I’m like a bear with a sore head with no sleep, he is worse.

I was starting to get delusional in my imaginings when I began to wonder how long it will be before the Telepathwriter is invented. The Telepathwriter needs another name obviously, but insomniac writers the world over need it. As we lie waiting for sleep and brilliant ideas weave their way into our minds, we need the electrodes taped to our temples to capture and transmit our thoughts straight to a document file. All those wonderful pre-sleep notions and incarnations will be caught forever. Over-writing will be a thing of the past as immediacy and freshness are caught on the page. No longer will those brilliant story plots be lost when we wake. I haven’t actually planned the machine besides the basic concept. Someone with a more technical or scientific bent needs to draw up some blueprints. Perhaps during another bout of insomnia I might come up with an outline design… if only I can remember it in the morning.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 20, 2017 at 11:35 am

Writers’ Group – 1; Panster – 0

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At last month’s Writers’ Group we discussed submission letters, reading ours to the group and taking comments. The three sentences in my letter describing my novel elicited a question about what it is about my character that makes her choose to stop having chemotherapy treatment. My colleague said, ‘I suppose that’s in the synopsis.’ Well, no, I thought, but didn’t let on.

Being the panster I am, it was only when he made this comment that I realised my character is a control freak. As I looked from a distance at the emails she writes, and her behaviour though the timeframe of the book, this is blindingly obvious. I have been too close to see before, worrying more about the grammar of the writing than the purpose of my characters.

I did not change my submission letter, but I did re-work my synopsis. I introduced the newly identified, but always there, key personality trait and did a little tweaking while I was at it, removing redundancy, re-ordering events. I sent both out, with the first three chapters of the book, as I have been throughout the year, expecting nothing in return. But, hey presto, at the beginning of this week I received an email inviting me to pitch my novel. I am flabbergasted, over the moon, and completely unprepared. Thankfully I have a couple of weeks to learn ‘how to pitch a novel,’ as well as get it written and rehearsed. I am going to make sure I don’t trip over my shoes and waste this opportunity.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 11, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Project 10K – November Goals – #amwriting

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October turned out to be a mixed bag of a month where goals were concerned, with two achieved and one missed. Two out of three isn’t bad though. This month I am committing myself to one thing – to write 50000-words for NaNoWriMo. Trying to get all those down is going to be task enough and anything extra I achieve will be a bonus. So to do this properly, I need to answer some questions. Thank you to Gabriele at Flights of Fancy for the nudges and the badges.

1. Did you meet your writing/editing goals?
Yes, no, yes.
I started off well with my first goal of editing 10000-words of my NaNoWriMo2014 novel, went through a mid-month lull, and ended with me actually beating my target – hooray!
My second goal to write two new short stories for competitions was a complete failure. The ideas for one short story are scribbled down on various pieces of paper, but haven’t been pulled into a coherent shape yet. I gave up completely on the other one.
I wrote stories to three of four Friday Fictioneer prompts and received some encouraging feedback on those.

2. Did you have fun writing?
Yes. I enjoyed seeing my word count slowly increase as I got back in touch with characters I wrote about three years ago. I can recognise where I need to pad out and expand as well as what to cut during the next draft. It’s a slow process, but I will get there in the end.

3. Did the P10K help with motivation?
Definitely. Having a word counter on my blog for all to see made me push myself in the final few days of the month. Committing to ¾ FF stories also pushed me into making sure I took part.

4. Anything else you want to tell us?
I was in Las Vegas for four days – my first trip there. I didn’t lose my shirt, but came home with a cold I am still trying to shake off.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

October 31, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Too much to chew? #amwriting

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Before going away last weekend, I prepared a list of writing jobs to tackle on my first full day back – Wednesday. As I post, three and a bit more days have passed and none of those jobs has been completed. One has been partially addressed and I have decided not to attempt another – writing a new story for a competition with a deadline of 31st October. I might have managed it if I had written anything while away, but I wrote not a jot and read only a few pages of the book I took with me. This is good because it means I was busy doing new things and had no spare time, which is what holidays are about.

However, my inability to complete relatively simple writing tasks in the last few days has made me re-evaluate my decision to take on NaNoWriMo this year. On current form, I am not likely to be a winner. In fact, I am probably unlikely to get half the 50000-words down. I could give up now and not even start, but if I don’t try, I will never succeed. So, I will start writing on Wednesday, prepared to fail while hoping to succeed. I need to be writing something new as well as plodding on with the old, and I need deadlines to focus my energies. Hopefully my word-meter will be full by 30th November, but possibly not. 🙂

 

Written by Sarah Ann

October 29, 2017 at 1:52 pm

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