Cover of The Pillars of the EarthWell, I've sent my manuscript to my agent with completed revisions, so now I'm taking my own advice and turning my attention back to another project, one which I started earlier this year during the wait for news on my MS which was out on submission.
It's a completely different genre from my last MS, and I've had trouble pinpointing what genre it is (though I think I've decided it's more a psychological thriller than anything else), so I'm still at the point of feeling my way, trying to work out how to tell the story, whether to include multiple points of view and all that other fun stuff which will be familiar to most of you.
Of course, books don't have to conform to a particular genre. And they can straddle boundaries between genres, or shun genre boundaries entirely. But...in the interest of informing myself a bit more about what the heck I should be doing if in fact I am trying to write a psychological thriller, I've just watched Ken Follett's online video lecture on the history of the thriller. Though he has a career spanning more than thirty years as a writer of thrillers, to some he is best known for Pillars of the Earth, his historical novel about the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages. His writer's biography is comforting for anyone contemplating genre hopping at some point in their career!
It's fair to say at this point that there are some things I really struggle with in my writing. Things I wish I'd already memorised the 'rule book' for, if such a thing exists.
- Like pacing.
- Like how to know the perfect time for a 'turning point' in a novel (apparently this is really important), and what form it should take.
- Like the nuts and bolts of how to hook a reader, and keep them turning those pages until they reach the end.
Along with all that I'd also like to know how to make sure they read that final page and put the book down with a satisfied sigh, rather than making a face and throwing it at the wall in disgust, thinking Call that a story?!
Yep. All that insignificant stuff which just happens to be the bread and butter of any aspiring commercial writer.
Now I'm gonna 'fess up here and let you know that I've never taken a writing course (though I did go to a one day conference a few years back). And I've only ever flicked through the beginning of Steven King's On Writing. So there's probably lots of really good information out there which I just haven't...um...assimilated yet. Actually I know there's lots of stuff out there. So much stuff that the prospect of picking through it all looking for pearls of wisdom is very daunting.
That's why I'm putting out the call to those of you who are writers' conference junkies, and who have bookshelves groaning with writing How-to titles of all descriptions. Which books/resources/websites/lecture givers have you found really helped you understand the above issues in a practical way? Clearly and concisely, in a way which you could actually apply to your own work?
Or are these things which ultimately, nobody can teach you, and you have to learn the hard way?
I'll be leaving you with that thorny question for the rest of December, as it's madness and mayhem at my place from here on in and computer (and blogging) time will be strictly rationed. Enjoy the festive season for those having holidays, and I'll be back in 2011!