Paperback Righter


Here’s two I finished earlier…

I buy a newspaper on a Saturday. This is somewhat of an anachronism (the purchase of a paper, not Saturday), going back to a time when there was actually something on the TV that might be worth watching but no reliable TV guide (either provided by the TV itself or available via the internet). In those days, the cryptic crossword had a prize worth teasing the old brain cells for and, well, probably the summers were better, the water sweeter and you could have a three course meal, a crate of wine and a taxi home and still have change from a fiver.

Nowadays, the crossword is available on the day online for free, and even our 8 year-old TV has its own guide-thing at the press of a button, helpfully labelled “Guide”. I have always felt that it would be more useful if, on pushing it, the TV told you what the hell was happening, either with the programme showing, or maybe just life in general.

I digress. In last Saturday’s newspaper, in the Review section, there was an article where various writers and writing-teachers waxed lyrical with tips for would-be writers. They are the people in the title, trying to “Right” authors with their hints on how to be good at it.* I have to say that I am not a great fan of tips like this because IMHO what you need to do is write first and develop your writing muscle, then see about the other stuff. Once other people have read your work, then you can start the refinement of your writing style.

Of all the dozen tips, there was one that I did actually like – so I will share it with you, provided you promise to let my novel be ahead of yours in the bestseller list for the first couple of weeks.


Here are some that I haven’t started…

It is an easy one – sort of – and comes from William Boyd, who is a novelist and screenwriter (it says here):


Mr Boyd says that he sees lots of good ideas presented to him by budding authors who, when asked the question “How does it end?”, answer “No idea”. Or words to that effect.

In the case of my latest novel, I have been very, very slow at finishing it. In fact, I have known for some time how it will end, but that detail is still in my head, and not on the page, electronic or anachronistically paper. This tip from William Boyd has made me wonder whether that is part of the problem – the ending isn’t concrete, solid, has no physical existence.

Guess what I am not doing right now (because I am writing this)? The last few pages of “The Xylophone at the Gates of Dawn” are slowly coming to life on my other screen. I think the ending might just be the start…


* And in no way just a lame excuse for a pun.


Categories: BATDIG, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Paperback Righter

  1. pat2727


    Liked by 1 person

  2. well… let’s be having it then…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think ‘Know Your Ending’ is a great tip, especially as this is, more often than not, the only bit of a story that I can start with – but I dread the old ‘write about what you know’ tip, as I never know what I know, until an idea forms in my mind and then, when I’m not quite sure of my facts, I’ve got great dictionaries, along with oodles of facts on t’internet to back up what I don’t know! Lol

    . . . and I’m sooooo glad to hear that ‘Xylophone’ is nearly finished πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • The write what you know thing rules out all sci-fi set in any kind of future, so I have never liked it as a tip! Did Asimov know how the Foundation and Empire worked? Nope, at least, not until he made it up. Write what you like – that’s the tip for me!
      I am really trying to finish Xylophone now so I am going to have a push over the next fortnight to get it done! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yay! That’s good to know – do let me know when it’s up for sale? πŸ™‚

        I was first introduced to sci-fi and fantasy (a.k.a. Assimov and Tolkien) at the age of 11, on my first day at senior school where, as usual, my first place to visit was the library – the first 2 books I took out were:
        I, Robot & The Lord of the Rings – I haven’t looked back since!

        But, funnily enough, the only sci-fi story I’ve ever written, so far, was a short story, and this was when I studied for my degree with the OU! Lol

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’ll be the first to know! I, Robot was a good place to start your sci-fi journey. I think my first Asimov was probably Foundation. I think my first Sci-fi story to read was bizarrely one my E. M. Forster – The Machine Stops. It’s an excellent short story, worth a look at. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I read that a few years later and loved it, and I kept the book for years until it fell to pieces – which reminds me, I must get it again, so thanks for reminding me! πŸ™‚

            My introduction to E. M. Forster was a rather pleasant one, on my 2nd year at senior school, by a wonderful English teacher who recommended A Passage to India, & A Room with a View and, through them, I found his sci-fi stuff πŸ™‚

            I used to haunt second-hand book shops at the time, and charity shops, to find sci-fi short story books, as they introduced me to so many wonderful authors πŸ™‚

            Liked by 2 people

  4. Digit extractum Jon and get the story finished so you can start moving up the charts and before someone pinches the title.

    Liked by 2 people

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