Tag Archives: writer

My Novel Writing Book Basket

7 May

photo A.1

This is my novel writing ‘book-basket’ and it travels with me everywhere I go. I have been lugging it about from house to house, desk to desk and room to room for over six months, carrying about the books I refer to on an almost daily basis as I go about my fiction writing. There are plenty more books in my ever-growing home library, from which I select a new fiction novel to read and it then goes in the ‘book basket’ with the other reference books. The spotty folders at the back of the basket are my printed out manuscript drafts (one & two), as I like to have these with me at all times too.

So here is the list of books I carry about in my novel writing ‘book-basket’.

1. The Art of Dramatic Writing – Lajos Egri

2. Reading Like a Writer – Francine Prose

3. Story – Robert McKee

4. How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One  – Stanley Fish

5. The Elements of Style – Struck & White

6. Copywriters’ Compendium – J. Jonathan Gaby

7. The Law of Success – Napoleon Hill

8. Dictionary of Psychology – Penguin Reference

9.  On Writing – Stephen King

10. Atonement – Ian McEwan

There are other writing reference books I should also have as a writer, such as Artful Sentences by Virginia Tufte – however the above list is the books I have ended up with.  The two books the helped most when I was trying to figure out what I was writing about were Story by Robert McKee and The Art of Dramatic Writing by Egri. McKee’s principle of the ‘controlling idea’ and Egri’s dealing of the principle of  ‘unity of opposites’  really helped me to clarify the themes and conflicts I was writing about and how best to make them work on paper. I flick into these two books more than once a day and always find something new to help me along.

For now, I am still editing my second draft manuscript with the help of all the above, so lets hope I can translate what I read and learn onto my own writing paper.


Critique Time

15 Oct


What a long hiatus from Blogsville! Three months later, my manuscript has finally made it into the hands of an esteemed critiquer for an evaluation. My heart is in my mouth, finally.

When I finished my first draft manuscript in April, I was sure that 2 months away from it – away from the pages & pages and chapters of words that had poured from me relentlessly over 3 months – would give me adequate time to switch off from the story itself.  It had been all-consuming. My thinking was that a  good break would allow me to stand back from the project, allow the manuscript to breath and then, hopefully I would be able to  read it objectively.

Read-through 1 & 2 still evoked the same raw, intense emotions within me that I felt when I was writing it. Reading it still evoked deep emotional responses, almost like I was still living through what I had written. I cried at some parts and became emotionally distressed after reading other parts. I wasn’t ready yet, that was for sure.

By mid summer, I was ready to throw the entire thing out the window, and my laptop along with it. Then my laptop died. I was sure this was a sign to leave the manuscript to rest longer. I hated most of what I wrote and cringed when I read most of the early chapters while the rest was in disarray.

On the third reading of the manuscript, I abandoned the task mid-way through in exasperation. Who was I kidding, I thought, I can’t write.  The 350 printed-out pages that represented my blood, sweat and tears where then stuffed into a box and forcefully shoved into the dark under the bed. I wasn’t anyway close to being ready.

Another month later, I tried again. By chapter 19, I wanted to cut half of what I wrote out of sheer frustration. Back into the box. It was then I decided to switch off completely – I didn’t read, I didn’t watch movies, I didn’t write, I just lived. I forgot about the manuscript under my bed and just enjoyed the late summer months of festivals, BBQ’s and long summer evenings.

‘One day’ my friend said around late August, ‘it will all just become words on a page.’ Would it I thought? Would I ever get to a point where I could read my manuscript past all the emotional connection – read it without reliving everything?

Five months after I finished the first draft manuscript and when eventually all the fear had finally passed, I pulled the box out from under the bed. I got myself a glass of red wine. took a deep breath and began to read. What I found was a story that was real, a story that was from the heart and a story that moved me. Some parts were awful, some parts surprised me but some parts struck me so forcefully that I know I would not be able to write them now. Had I reached that place where I could read it outside myself?

The break had worked it seemed, as I was finally was able to see the story for what it was – a work in progress. And I was excited again and that can only be a good thing. After a few weeks work on rewriting and editing, my first draft was finally ready to be torn apart.

Now I just have to wait for my editors letter….and start all over again!




Main Image via here


I just had to scream – I hit 90,000 words on my first novel!

28 Mar


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