Another interesting article I thought worth a share.
Have you ever worked on a story, then all of a sudden you have an idea for something that will happen several chapters ahead? As I’ve said before, I always know the ending of my stories. Although sometimes it changes slightly, but it stays in the same ballpark. I’ve written several scenes ahead on my […]
I saw this article and it resonated well with me……
Today on Twitter, someone called out an author for his “bad writing” and, as an author of many years with five published novels, I began to wonder what that term meant. Was the story not logical or appealing or was it more a grammatical problem? The tweeter stated that had the story been properly edited, […]
I have not been blogging my poetry for some time now. It’s not that I’m lazy or that I’ve lost interest, it’s just that I’m busy. Having completed two fiction books last year, I am now ploughing on with number 3 and it is taking up all of my spare time.
So, if you’ve missed me, I’m sorry. If you haven’t noticed, I’m also sorry. (Probably more so!)
Below is the finished, but awaiting publication, book 2….
It was a quiet winter’s evening. The temperature had not risen much above zero, and the morning frost had hung heavy in trees and hedgerows all day. On my way home, I took the road through the forest. It was a long and straight road only used by locals and sales reps, looking for a fast shortcut.
I must admit, I was going quite fast, seventy-five, maybe eighty miles an hour, but hey, I drove over thirty thousand miles a year in my job, and anyway, I was in an Audi, so the rules don’t apply to me.
I smirked at that thought and reached down, momentarily, to turn up the radio to sang with the old Doobie Brothers song blaring from the speakers.
“Got those highway blues, can’t you hear my motor runnin’?
Flyin’ down the road with my foot on the floor
All the way in town they can hear me comin’
Ford’s about to drop, she won’t do no more…..”
That’s as far as I got. When I looked up, ahead in the road stood a deer. I slammed on my brakes, the car skidded on the frosty road, hit the curb, and then flipped over, and over, and over, and over. I think I counted seven, stopping only when the car wrapped itself round a tree. Somehow, I was thrown from the car, landing in a dazed heap about twenty feet down the road. I didn’t get up despite the cold. I’d seen enough ambulance documentaries my wife loves to watch to know you shouldn’t move until the paramedics came and gave you the once over. Anyway, it didn’t seem that cold. I was just dazed, disoriented, and my mind seemed it was in a fuzz, so probably best if I didn’t move. You must be sensible in these situations, better to be safe than sorry, I thought.
It wasn’t long before I heard the wail of sirens coming from both directions, an ambulance heading towards me one way and a fire engine coming towards the car. They had all their lights on, so what I didn’t expect was the ambulance to head straight for me. I was in the middle of the road, for crying out loud. Surely, they could see me.
At the last moment, I rolled over to the side of the road. If I hadn’t, he would have gone right over me. What an idiot.
I was going to have words, but I found I couldn’t move easily. I was giddy, still dazed, and things were not very clear.
I decided to sit up in the road. I knew, I shouldn’t do that, I might have a spinal injury, and that could be life-changing. But nothing was hurting, so I thought I’d give it a try. There, it was fine, no harm done.
The paramedics were both looking into the car, shaking their heads. Had they still not noticed there was no one in it? After another few minutes, the police arrived. I was glad I hadn’t had that second pint; they were bound to breathalyse me. I’ll be fine.
They’d closed the road in both directions, but still, they were ignoring me.
“That’s it,” I said to myself. “I’d better just get up and go and see them because they still hadn’t seen me.”
It was a struggle getting up, but once vertical, I seemed just fine.
“I reckon he must have been doing eighty down here, look at the skid marks,” one of the coppers said.
“Excuse me, I wasn’t doing anything over sixty if you don’t mind.”
He totally ignored me, so that was their game because they thought I’d been a naughty boy, they were just going to pretend I wasn’t there
I walked over to the car to have a look.
Oh, my goodness, there’s someone inside. How did they get there?
I looked at the car.
“Phew, that’s not mine, mine is much longer than that, and it’s a completely different shape to mine, same colour though,” I said to no one in particular. “Excuse me, have you seen my car? It must be around here somewhere.”
They didn’t answer, just stood there looking at the bloke in the car, shaking their heads.
“Bloody fool,” one of them said.
“I couldn’t agree more,” I answered.
It seemed like hours, but eventually, they cut him out of the car and put him in a body bag.
I knew it was morbid, disrespectful even, but I went over to have a look before they zipped it up.
I couldn’t make out much face. It was covered in blood.
“Stop!” I shouted, “I saw his lips move. He’s still alive.”
I bent to listen. He was singing, actually singing at a time like this.
“Oh, rockin’ down the highway
Oh, rockin’ down the highway
Oh, rockin’ down the highway
Oh, rockin’ down the highway.”
Wasn’t that what I was singing just before the crash?
Prize fighter James Corbett was once asked: ‘What’s the most important thing for a man to do to become a champion?’ He replied, ‘Fight one more round.’ Successful people have different talents, but they all have these qualities: perseverance, tenacity, and stick-to-it-iveness (I know, made up word). Thomas Grey wrote seventy-five drafts of ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ before he was satisfied with his poetic masterpiece. S.N. Behrman, the American playwright, wrote plays for eleven years before he sold a single one. End of Summer being possibly his most famous. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by twelve different publishers before finally being accepted. Somerset Maugham earned only five hundred dollars in his first ten years as a writer. While working full time in a factory, Enrico Caruso the operatic singer studied voice for twelve years before becoming a successful performer. George Gershwin composed almost one hundred melodies before he sold his first one – for five dollars. There’s an important lesson for you in each of these stories: if your dream doesn’t come true immediately, don’t get discouraged. Continue to pursue your craft and develop your talent. Study and learn. Grow by experience. Keep working. Victory goes to the man or woman who is willing to ‘fight one more round’.
When I sit down to read a book, I love the escapism; I love to fall into the story, in my mind, I become part of the story. I eagerly read on, page upon page, chapter after chapter, absorbing the storyline and enjoying it.
This is why I feel sorry for publishers and literary agents. They seem incapable of enjoying a good yarn. Instead, they are constantly thinking, not about the plot, the storyline, sub-plots, and plot twists, the characters, the heroes, and the villains, they only concentrate on grammar. They are the grammar police, they are interested in out of place hyphens, articles, punctuation, pronouns, prepositions, spellings, capitalisations, verb forms, verb tenses, and auxiliary verbs, to name just a few. I have no clue what most of them are anyway.
When I read a work of fiction, I don’t go through it looking for an antecedent that is out of place. I just enjoy the story.
Another example would be a sentence such as:
“Where’s me dog gone?” Tom said in his best Welsh accent.
Yes, I fully appreciate that that is not what an Oxford professor of English would say, but I am writing the speech characteristics of a 13-year-old Welsh boy with limited education, and ‘they’ don’t like it. (Nb. I have placed the word ‘they’, meaning publishers and agents, in inverted commas purely to annoy the grammar police). Surely, they think, this common boy of little worth should say: “I say old boy, would one happen to know the whereabouts of my canine friend?”
So, my friendly agents and publishers. Why not just sit down by the fire with a nice glass of red wine and read to enjoy? Reject a book if the story’s lousy, but not because of a misplaced preposition.
This, of course, is one of the reasons that the Booker Prize winner for 2020 Douglas Stuart and his novel Shuggie Bain was turned down 32 times before it was published. Agents and publishers don’t read, they just look for faults and reasons not to publish.
At thirteen, Rupert thought he was the unhappiest boy in the world. He had no friends, his parents were far too busy being busy to even remember they had a son. Materially, he wanted for nothing. He had nice clothes, designer brands only. He had the latest technology, and the biggest television ever. What he really wanted, however, was a little attention. He wished for a different, better life, not one filled with possessions, but one filled with love. But it wasn’t going to happen. Dad was a filthy rich stockbroker, and his mother, a stuck up socialite, flitting from one fundraiser, charity event or cocktail party to another. One morning, after his shower, he was just about to get dressed when he caught sight of his back in a mirror. It seemed very lumpy as if the bones were sticking out a little, and his spine seemed to protrude out at the base, almost like a small tail. He thought nothing of it, perhaps his recent growth spurt had extenuated his bones, though, it wasn’t evident around his ribcage, where he had what looked like a scaly rash. He wouldn’t bother telling anyone, no one would be interested. A week later, it was worse, and his shoulder blades seemed to be more prevalent than usual. He shrugged, said nothing and just carried on as usual. Another week passed and mother was hosting a party of her own, marquees were erected in their two-acre garden which stood inside their seven-acre wood. “You boy, what’s your name again?” “Rupert, I’m your son.” “Yes,” she said, “I knew that, make yourself scarce, the guests arrive soon.” Rupert didn’t argue, he just slinked off indifferently towards the woods. Unlike the manicured lawns which made up the garden, the woods were unmanaged, truly wild and almost impenetrable. He waded through the thick bracken and jumped over a fallen tree, as he leapt, he caught his shin on a broken branch. “Oomph!” he exclaimed, as he did so, a little puff of smoke blew out of his mouth. He looked down at his torn brand new Versace jeans and let out a howl of disgust. A long column of flame came from his lips, scorching all around him. He closed his mouth and put his hand over it as if to stop the flow. His hand, it was green and scaly like a lizard, his jacket began to rip as wings unfurled behind him, he was turning into a… “Dragon!” he exclaimed. He launched upwards and circled round the crowds below, now he would show them. He swooped, belching fire onto the canvas marquees, setting ladies hats on fire and burning the Daimlers and the new Maseratis parked in the drive. He carried on torching everything he despised so much, house and all. He rolled over and opened his eyes, his smiling mother stood by his bed. “Bad dream love?” she said, stroking his hair, smiling. “No mum, it was the funniest.”