Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Hunger Games.. hungry for more

Candice: This time of year brings to mind a number of things for me, either “whey hey, the football is over” or “oh bugger, I’ve got another four weeks of it and its going to be worse than before”. Well, this year, unless you don’t have a TV you can’t have missed that there is a small tournament going on. I believe it’s called Euro 2012.  So, for the last week or so I have found a new home, our conservatory.  While the other half is watching in the lounge, I have been chilling in the lovely daylight, sometimes with my able furry assistant.  Emanating from the other side of the house can often be heard, “oh, ah, ohhhh”, and that’s not the blue movie he was watching.  Nope, it’s the sound I hate, FOOTBALL.

However, this has allowed me some quality reading time as I have been a bit slack since the return from holiday.  So my first tackle (ha ha) was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Written for a slightly younger audience than I, it impressed me by drawing me in from the word go.  Having read “The Running Man” by Stephen King, a similar premise of someone trying to escape game that involved being killed,I wasn’t sure it could do it better, it didn’t but just approached it differently.  I have to say there wasn’t a point in this book where I didn’t want to know what happened next, and though I had an inkling of the outcome, I wondered how she would achieve it.

I won’t give the game away but safe to say, it all ends well but with a nice twist leading on to book two.  And, though there is alot of violence, the sex is minimal (thank god!).

The characters are well drawn, the main female Katniss is strong but shows some weakness, but doesn’t do anything that makes you think, “oh she’d never do that.”  And the fact she can survive in the environment is built well from the start, rather than her suddenly being an expert outdoors person.  I want to know more about the world they live in, and how the present world became their ‘Panem’.

Book two is on my list, but I am holding back else I will read them all in a month and then feel a bit bereft afterwards.   I also think I’ll make an effort to see the film when it’s on the movie channel to see how that works.

So I have one thing to thank the football for!

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Important advice for the wannabee writer. Write non-sucky books.

Phil: From John Scalzi’s blog post “How to Build a New York Times Bestseller (or Maybe Not)” where he explains how “Redshirts” climbed the NYT bestsellers list. There’s some good advice for those of us who aspire to doing the same thing. Point 3 is my favorite:

I wrote a book that didn’t suck. A commercially successful book does not necessarily have to be well-written, but it doesn’t hurt things if it is. Redshirts is well-written — or, perhaps more accurately, it’s written in a manner which is easy for most literate humans to read, with efficient prose and a light, speedy style that rewards swallowing the book in big gulps rather than sipping it slowly. Even more simply put, it’s designed to be fun to read, and to read fast. These are fine qualities for a novel to have when one is hoping for commercial success.

Read the rest of the post here.

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Thinking in writing

Mmmmmmm, cupcake. Yummy.Candice :  In the midst of our deep and meaningful conversation in the pub a few days ago, we came across a stumbling block that we have encountered in our previous writing missions.  How to explain that a character is thinking in what you are writing.

Example 1: No one is going to be doing anything ghostly tonight, she thought, putting her face in her hands

Example 2: …it didn’t seem any different from any other tour, why had he picked it over the multitude of others?

Now in writing the Book, we decided that we would go with the option of putting , ‘character thought’, by these sections.  I have continued that, as you can see, above.  However, in this short story’s case particularly, the character is thinking alot, which kind of drowns the prose with ‘she thought’. So what to do?  One story Phil sent me the character it thinking all the way through so there is no specific reference to this,but with ours it’s told from her point of view but with conversations with other characters and descriptive scenes.

So, what do you do to prevent over ‘thoughting’ the prose but to explain that some of it is going on in their head?

Can I just point out, we’ve both got an ‘O’ Level in English Language, but that was a lonnnnnngggggg time ago!

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Fifty shades of dodgy film

Candice:  Yes I know I keep going on about this but in today’s Grazia:

“Who should play Anastasia Steele in the film of Fifty Shades?”

Strangely Angelina Jolie won – um, this is about a 21 year old naive student?  Scarlett Johansson is down as a possible second, backed up by other places on the web.

Don’t know if I will go and see it but it will be the most interesting casting session I would imagine!

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Murder we wrote

Kill the doughnut ! Kill ! Kill !Phil: Embarking on a short story sabbatical, we needed to come up with our first plot line. They, whoever they are, say “Write what you know”. So since we used to work together at a firm where we wanted to kill all our colleagues, a murder seemed appropriate.

Actually, that’s not true, not the murdering the workmates bit, but the reason. It’s more to do with the books we read and especially the TV programmes we watch. Candice mentioned Lost Girl and other top TV shows a few posts ago and as we chatted we briefly considered the realm of fan fiction.

For lots of people this is writing what they know. Get obsessive enough about a single TV show and you could consider that you know more about the characters in it than the people you meet every day. It’s certainly likely that it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than your real life. I know I wouldn’t want to watch me on telly 24 hours a day.

We know the short story needs instant drama and what could be more dramatic than a death ? It might be that this is old hat but we’re just starting with the story thing so why not shoot at the easy target while we get our writing eye in ? More to the point, we could both name TV shows dealing with the subject we enjoyed so there is a demand out there.

Not everything ran smoothly of course. Yes, we bounced ideas around like a tennis ball in a washing machine but on returning to work after our lunchtime chat, I’d had a few ideas in the car. Trying to e-mail them over to Candice, it seems that the e-mail system where she works is set to work against potential killers by rejecting such messages. Not to worry, a little ingenious misspelling sorted that out.

That trick doesn’t stop us being on the receiving end of some very odd looks in the pub when we sit there and talk about methods of implicating two innocent people in the killings of course. If you see the next post starting Prisoner 229544 then you know our excuse wasn’t convincing enough !

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New directions ?

Bakewell TartPhil: On the way to our latest lunch, I had to find a Post Office in a village. With rain hammering down and no obvious signs, I dropped into a bakers to ask for directions. Since it would be rude not to buy something I picked up a little Bakewell tart.

Posting done and at the cafe, we sat down. Candice immediately said “No social chat, no talking about the weather. We need to talk about writing”. Her tone made it clear that she would brook no deviation.

So we talked book. As regular readers will have noticed, apart from a bit of fiddling around, we have achieved the square root of bugger all for the last few months. This is really frustrating as we’ve both been published in the past (Fashion, model making and old cars since you ask. Who would have expected Nolan to be so familiar with the torque wrench ?) on our own but not as a writing team and never for fiction. Both of us feel that we can keep plugging away at The Book or even The Next Book but it’s a soul-destroying business. We need a quick fix.

A few days earlier we’d shared lists of book clubs and short story competitions. What we need is to get out of our comfort zone and write different stuff. With that in mind we ran over some of the ideas bandied around over the last year or so.  Out of this grew an idea for a short story. More importantly, we were bouncing ideas around like the old days when we started writing. By the end of our 45 minutes a narrative arc was drawn out that just (Just !) needs filling in. The conversation had been so intense I hadn’t even finished my lovely, but slightly stodgy and oversize carrot cake. Good job I had something to help me through the afternoon.

Before we do there is the little matter of finding a target for our efforts. Initially it’s going into competitions and that means being conscious of word counts and genres. One day we will be in print as Nolanparker. Then the publishing world will realise what they are missing.

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Fifty shades continued

Candice:  I posted the other week about a book I had read on holiday, “Fifty shades of Grey”.  I had mixed feelings about is as a concept and so, it seems, did our readers and my Twitter followers.  Autumn made a very good point about sex being necessary to the story,and when I posted on Twitter I got a flurry of “going to read it, don’t read it” and generally a storm of comments both positive and negative.

However, just today, I have spotted a distant facebook friend posting a copy of the cover and saying she is about to start reading.  She lives in London so I told her not to read it on the Tube in case some one is looking over her shoulder!

So what is it about this book that has created such a fuss, and surely it’s not the only one. I feel its abit like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover“, but in that day it would definately have been banned.  Was it just written to generate a furor, or did the writer actually feel that this book was adding something to the world. Don’t forget there are three of them in the series.

Have read around a bit I find it only really became big about a month before I picked it up, though the three books have been out on a smaller print run before.  The writer is English, though the book is set in Seattle, but I suspect that is something to do with the fact it was originally inspired by “Twilight”.  A very interesting route in it seems, a something that makes one think about how by using existing stories someone has been published.  Perhaps Phil’s and my aim for short stories should use inspiration from the programs we already watch as a starter.  I know there is a regular following for “lost girl” which I am a part of.  Could I write something for the main character, Bo?  Yes, I think I could.

All more fuel for the writing fire.

I still don’t know if I will buy another book in the series, I did try in Tesco on Friday but they are obviously more into censorship than Asda and are not stocking it.  I bought “The Hunger Games” instead, another talked about book but for different reasons.

I’ll let you know what I think of that one.

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