Thursday, May 24, 2007

Novel Racer - Nichola

Well, when I started the Novel Racers profiles back at the end of April with Jane Henry, I didn't how much fun it would be. I have enjoyed each and every profile and loved seeing a slightly different side of each racer than they show on their own blogs. With Nichola's profile today we will have seen at little bit more of seventeen of our racers. Unfortunately this is it for the moment as the other racers are clearly shy. Here is Nichola, http://thesoupisgettingcold.blogspot.com/:

"I learned to read when I was about two so my bookwormery started early. My gran used to put newspapers and books in front of me, some the right way up, some upside down, to see if I knew which was which, and apparently I always gave her a funny look when she presented the newspaper the wrong way up! She said it was just a silly game but as I grew older, I started devouring books. It’s an addiction I’ve never kicked.

I’ve written stories since the age of about six or seven, never wanted to do anything else with my life. Mrs Perry, one of my primary school teachers, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to us during story-time and I was intrigued; I nagged my mum to take me to the library for a copy of the book so I could read ahead. The day I realised stories could have that effect on people was a watershed – and when I realised people actually pay for stories; you can write books and make money from it, I was amazed (and excited).

It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I completed my first ‘proper, grown-up’ novel though – 150,000 words of sheer rubbish. My friend Alistair said at the time, “How many people can even say they’ve written a book?” but it’ll never be published, at least in its current incarnation – it breaks every writing rule in the book (if you’ll pardon my pun).


While I was at college a few years ago, one of my assignments was to write the first chapter of a novel and my tutor encouraged me to finish it as she was fascinated by the main character – that one chapter eventually grew into Bird of Prey for which I’m now seeking representation and while I wait to see what happens there, I’m working on something else.

When I’m not writing, I read a lot of course – at the last count I owned just over 450 books so I’m always entertained. I have my own two-bedroom flat, which is just as well, with all the bookcases I need!"


Now yesterday I left you with me and Sol Stein's miraculous book Solutions for Writers. I read the book with high lighter in hand kept thinging OMG that is what I have been doing wrong. The I set to work and before Sol Stein August Rock was almost 91,000 words and by then of the edit it was 87,000 (this subsequently went back up to 89,000 when I worked with some plot issues).



Yesterday I left you with the gift that Lucie had handed me, Sol Stein's Solutions For Writiers. So first I will give you a one sentence demonstration of what this edit did for my writing:

(pre SS) A bee landed on the map. Judith watched its big fat body loaded with pollen try to set off again to find something that was more like a flower than the road map she held. Its wings eventually gained enough momentum to take off in search of greener locations.

(post SS) A bee landed on the map. Judith watched its fat body loaded with pollen try to set off to find something more like a flower. Its wings eventually gained enough momentum to take off in search of greener locations.

The difference is obvious. The sentence is stronger. The image more powerful and it flows. The reader soesn't become lost in a mess of words.

Now the prologue which you have read before is currently staying the same as my last rewrite but to show you the SS cutting I'll post both here for comparision and you can let me know which you think is better!

The first version:

Judith sat on the damp sand watching the incoming tide lap over her pale feet with their bright red toenails. Those red toenails fought so fiercely with the brilliant white lace of her wedding gown yet the tears in her eyes caused it all to blur to pink. She didn’t like pink. Not that anyone cared that she didn’t like the colour. The church was filled with pink flowers. Pink lilies to be precise and the scent of which still filled her nostrils despite the brisk sea breeze coming with the tide.

As she stood in the doorway of the church, all she could see was various shades of pink. Flowers andribbons adorned every pew. The altar was barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Little girls spinning around her knees were covered in pink dresses with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.

The heat of the early June afternoon intensified the cloying scent of the lilies to almost overwhelming levels as the soprano above in the choir loft hit the high notes on some hymn she couldn’t remember. Amidst all the pink covering the altar, stood her fiancé, John, in morning coat with a pink waistcoat which beautifully matched the fluffy pink dresses of the flower girls circling her.

Even her maid of honour was covered head to toe in pink with more lilies and carnations clasped in her hands. In her own hands, she held a decadent bouquet of more lilies, carnations, roses and other pink flowers which reached the floor in their cascade. She saw her hands tremble and sweat so much that she almost dropped the entire candyfloss mess on the tile floor.

The salty water of the Gulf Stream took the stiffness out of the lace by her toes so that it
collapsed on her legs. Now she felt at peace with the damn dress; limp, wet, and shapeless like her. A seagull dive bombed in front of her forcing her to wipe her wet eyes so that she could see if he was successful. He was and despite herself she smiled. At least someone got what they wanted.

Now for the latest version:

Judith sat watching the incoming tide lap over her red toenails and wet the brilliant white lace of her wedding gown. Tears caused it all to blur to pink. She didn’t like pink. Not that anyone cared that she didn’t like the colour. The church was filled with pink flowers. Hundreds of lilies to be precise and their scent still filled her nostrils despite the brisk breeze coming in with the tide.

An hour ago she stood in the doorway of the church; all she could see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons adorned every pew. The altar was barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, stood among them; tall, blond, perfect yet even he had not escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls spinning around her knees clothed in pink dresses with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.

The heat of the early June afternoon intensified the cloying scent of the lilies to overwhelming levels, as the soprano in the choir loft hit high notes on some hymn she couldn’t remember. In her hands, she held a decadent bunch of lilies, carnations, roses and other pink flowers which reached the floor in their cascade. She saw her hands tremble and sweat so much that she dropped the candyfloss mess on the floor.

The salty water of the Gulf Stream took the stiffness out of the lace so that it collapsed on her legs. Now she felt at peace with the damn dress; wet and shapeless. A seagull dive-bombed in front of her forcing her to wipe her eyes so that she could see if he was successful. He was and she smiled. At least someone got what they wanted.

The first version has 360 words and the second 299.

Now the current revision is coming on well, dare I say it. Iam enjoying it obviously madness has hit. I never dreamed I say that. I listened to Michelle Styles,
http://michellestyles.blogspot.com/, but I could never understand it. (BTW way she is blogging about why she finds McKee's Story so useful to her writing - it's well worth a look). Now I do. First with each revision I see the script becoming stronger and hence can see the benefit of the slog. Two, I now have a better understanding of what I need to be doing. So this current rewrite I am focusing on plot......

That's all I'll say for now other that if you have time pop of to Therese Fowler's blog, http://theresefowler.blogspot.com/, for a great insight into who does the story belong to? Pertanent to me for A Cornish House.

11 comments:

Jen said...

Sol Stein totally rocks... I dip in and out but will read through properly when the time (eventually) comes to edit.

I love reading bits of your work, Liz... am almost tempted to put a 'taster' of mine on my blog... eeeeeek.

Helen said...

I agree with Jen. I'm really enjoying your blog at the moment and to see the changes you have made in your work. Educational and entertaining! Good stuff. I should get Sol Stein's book. Thanks for the tip.

liz fenwick said...

Glad you both are enjoying it. It's proving helpful to me because it gives distance. Looking at a blog doesn't look like my work! Give it a try Jen - it's a bit liberating really.

I can't recommend Sol Stein's book enough :-)

leatherdykeuk said...

I'll look out for Sol Stein.

btw, I've Tagged you!

Do or ignore, as you wish!

liz fenwick said...

It's well worth a read.

I'll catch up on the tagging either tomorrow or over the weekend :-)

Therese said...

Haven't seen Stein's book, but I CAN see the effect it's had on your work! The revised prologue is stronger, clearer, with more narrative energy. Well done!

p.s. Thanks for referring to my post!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

(1) lovely profile (2) I'm sad we're not getting any more, why don't people want to join in? (rhetorical question, really, Liz; I don't expect you to have answers) (3) fascinating to see your 'before and after' - the second version rocks (4) I know what you mean about seeing the script become stronger and so understanding the benefit of the slog. I got the second half of my feedback this week, was relieved to find that it overlapped to a large extent with the first half, am now fizzing with ideas about how to improve my novel - to such an extent that I've had chronic insomnia this week because my head won't shut up! - and if all goes well I'll be starting work on it this afternoon. Can't wait!

liz fenwick said...

Zinnia that is fabulous news! I love it when the ideas flow. Thanks for the compliment on the revised version of the prologue :-)

liz fenwick said...

Hi Therese, I didn't see you there. Thanks for the comments on the prologue...I find it much stronger.

No problem on the link. I loved that post and I know other people struggle with the same problem :-)

A. Writer said...

I would have done a profile :(

Oh well, maybe next time?

liz fenwick said...

a. writer its still open.....please please send me a profile!!! I now have one more for next week!!