Sunday, 1 August 2010

Five ways to do it: N M Browne

There are many ways of writing a novel . A brief poll established that of writers I know the top five locations for novel writing are
1. in an office or shed, (everybody’s doing it ) The great thing being that simply going there convinces everyone that you are working even though you might just be internet surfing, napping or rearranging the garden tools.
At a kitchen or even a dining table, for those without a room of ones own. Manuscripts tend to get coffee stained and muddled up with the gas bill which can add an interesting post modern frisson to the offering blurring the distinction between reality and fiction etc
In bed I have tried this and always fall asleep, but apparently it works for some people.Writing and dreaming are sometimes indistinguishable anyway
In a coffee shop - particular good for fantasy writers on low incomes ( isn’t that all of us?) Tends to lend itself to excessive caffeine consumption and if its a local coffee shop and you know lots of people a very low word count per hour.
In some fantastic exotic location. Whenever I’ve tried this I’ve decide that the location is far too nice to waste time working.

There are also five preferred tools:
1 typewriter only good if you can type as the damned things don’t have a delete, copy, paste or insert button. Only for the very clever who don’t make mistakes and have very strong finger muscles ( ie not modern day degenerates.)
pen and paper - I get cramp just thinking about it but great for those with legible handwriting who are unlikely to leave the only draft on the train.
pencil and paper - for those with legible handwriting but less certainty.
stone tables and chisel for those with the same qualities as 2 but more time.
word processor - for those who can’t type, haven’t got legible handwriting, who are quite likely to leave drafts on the train and make lots of mistakes.

And five top tips for writing a novel without all the work.
1 Plagiarism, picking up some obscure book that miraculously isn’t on the internet and copying it This is a criminal act that can’t be condoned and only included here for completeness. Besides any book obscure enough to be a candidate for plagiarism probably isn’t that great anyway.
2. Calling on the muse. People’s techniques for this vary. Some involve alcohol induced trance like states, others involve reclining on sofas eating grapes and I have heard that a vigorous walk across wild country can startle a muse into manifesting. I’ve never had any luck with this myself long walks tend to produce nothing more useful than detailed to do lists and blisters.
3. Calling on the pixies. Some leave chocolate out in the hope that good new words will appear on the pc by magic. I’m afraid I eat all the chocolate so never have any to experiment with. At best I would describe this as unproven. Anecdotal evidence suggests they are better at making shoes in any case.
Automatic writing. This is a bit like getting in touch with your muse only harder as it involves contacting the dead. Given the low rates of literacy in the world over time and the even smaller number of english speaking literate dead, the chances of finding one who is both a decent writer and interested in hanging round writers who probably have among the least interesting lives for dead voyeurs, seems remote.
Employing a ghost writer - less like 4 than you would think. Works brilliantly for ballet dancers, footballers and topless models.

1 comment:

Jan Markley said...

Just left some chocolate out for the pixies!