Welcome to my blog!

I am a lefty. I write vertically, cannot use can-openers and was recently foiled by a right handed ladle (I will have my vengeance...) but more than this, I generally seem to approach life from a different angle. I appreciate that this may have nothing to do with being a lefty and may just be my own dysfunctionallity, but after earning the nickname 'Lefty-Flip' after a frustrating game of Guitar Hero, it seemed an appropriate title for this blog.

Friday, 28 October 2011

On Editing. King Style.

As you may be aware, I'm a bit of a Stephen King fan. I may have mentioned it before somewhere.
Once again I find myself bowing to his words of wisdom (ok in this case they weren't actually his words, but words of advice to him) nevertheless, he thought them important enough to pass on, so I am doing the same. The words came in the form of a rejection letter and contained the following formula:

2nd Draft = 1st draft - 10%

I first read this in the rather brilliant 'On Writing' several years ago, and my first reaction was 'works for you, but not for me.' If anything I expected my second draft to be longer than the first because of those areas I knew I had skated over in brief detail the first time round. surely they would need re-writing and expanding? Well sure, some of those patches did need expanding, but in truth the majority of them needed to be hacked away altogether!

I'm currently doing a combined edit/re-write of my second draft and am finally embracing the golden rule and aiming to cut 10%. Because yes, there are areas that now need fleshing out and expanding on, those places where I didn't explain things in quite enough detail. Only, I then appear to have repeated that same sketchy detail two chapters later, and oh look - again a few chapters after that... I have even found what is essentially the same paragraph written twice in the same chapter, a mere page and a half apart!

First draft for me, as I've said before, is mud pie stage. Pour it all on, slap it together and hope it sticks. Better to repeat yourself than forget an idea. Anything goes in a first draft, repetition, ludicrous sub-plots, half baked characters, (and on one page what appears to be a reminder to myself to buy cat food at the weekend.)
But there comes a time to shape the mud pie (er, or maybe wash off the mud? Not sure where I'm going with this!) hence the need to edit as I re-write. There is something immensely liberating about deleting great big chunks of your work - no honestly it really is! I've heard lots of stories of how difficult editing can get, and I'm sure the nearer to finished a piece of work is, the more painful it gets to 'Kill your Darlings' but at this stage, when I know what I'm cutting is utter codswallop, it feels rather nice! Like there is a good piece of writing buried in the mud somewhere, and if I keep digging I may just find it.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


If this blog was a child it would have been taken into care by now! I'm sorry wee blog, I do love you really.

Have had a new toy to play with recently though. Oh yes, because I do such a gosh darn good job at keeping this blog up to date, I decided to take control of another!
http://makinmuzic.blogspot.com/  is where you can read all about Makin' MuZic, the rather lovely choir I sing with in Swindon.
I was going to give it it's own page on my blog, then decided they deserve a whole blog of their own!

So go check us out! We're good, honest! :-)

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Red Shirt Diaries

Do you remember in Star Trek when they used to pop off the Enterprise every now and then to go and investigate some dangerous new planet?

Off would go Kirk, and Spock and Bones… and a Security chap in a red shirt.

Five minutes in (and that’s being generous) said red-shirted chappie would cop it.

Some days I wish I was writing for Star Trek.

I sort of liked the honesty of that approach, like an unwritten agreement between writer and viewer; Look, we know he’s gonna snuff, it you know he’s gonna snuff it, we could waste your time giving you some back-story, making you really feel for this guy, and the wife and kids he left behind… or you know, we could just slap him in a red shirt and get on with the show, cause we only have thirty minutes here, and twenty of that will be Kirk’s log…

It was nice.

Everyone knew where they stood.

Except for the Red-Shirt.

Those guys never saw it coming.

I admit it; I am currently lacking the patience to retrospectively fill out a character I invented purely for the purpose of killing off in three chapters time. He’s nothing but a walking talking plot device.
Literary cannon fodder.

Can’t I just slap him in a red shirt and be done with?

Ah, I could. But then you’d all know what was coming.

PS And yes, I wrote this Sunday evening whilst watching Star Trek and generally procrastinating.