From The Notebook

JOTTINGS

‘THERE ARE NO GOOD WRITERS:’ At one time or another, I’m sure that most of us have found ourselves near to someone who comes out with what sounds like a really outrageous statement. Wow – you ask yourself in disbelief – did he or she really say that? And then, before falling headlong into heated discussions, listen for what comes next and take time to check out the speaker’s credentials. For example, whilst the ubiquitous ‘man in the pub’ will undoubtedly have outspoken opinions on a whole range of subjects, for a valued opinion be sure to listen to someone who has experience on the subject. Simply put, any opinion is only as good as the experience upon which it is based!

But hold on I hear you ask? What’s this about there being no good writers? Well, be patient and I will explain. Some little while ago I had the good fortune to attend a lecture given by the American crime writer Jeffery Deaver. During his address, he made the comment that there were no good writers. A remark that he followed up by saying that there were only good re-writers. In fact, he attributed the whole statement to the late Earnest Hemingway. So, not so outrageous after all, and Deaver himself admitted to be a prolific rewriter. Doubtless this is something that must apply to just about every other writer out there. I know it made me think, and introduced me to the tasks of self-criticism and rewriting.

IT’S A GIFT: On Father’s Day I was kindly given a copy of James Swallow’s book Nomad, which I have just finished reading. Overall a good, fast moving thriller that crosses many continents and contains the required number of ‘twists.’ Alright, a little far-fetched in places, but isn’t that half the fun of good crime novels? I enjoyed Nomad and found his main character utterly believable, and look forward to his ‘promised’ return in the autumn.

MY FIRST: For many years I harboured a desire to write, but pressure of work had always seemed to stop me. (Well, that’s my excuse!) But now I have the time, and thanks to Amazon and e-books, I have taken my first steps in that direction. The Drysdale Confession is now ‘alive and well’ on Amazon and is receiving some much appreciated reviews. By design this book lent itself to a natural sequel and I’m pleased to say that The Far Reaches is now complete. However, while Amazon has showed me that I’m able to compete, it’s time to ‘raise the bar.’ Therefore, and armed with a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book, I am planning to make some direct approaches to agents and publishing houses in an attempt to create interest. However, I appreciate that I will be entering a busy arena and expect my fair share of ‘knock backs.’

SHORT STORIES: Breaking away from full-length novels, I decided to embark upon writing a selection of short stories – between 5,000 to 8,000 words each. I have now completed seven of these, with four more ‘in the pipeline.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this change, finding that it was a task that could be done ‘back to front.’ In other words, I set out by planning the twist in the tale and then worked forward from there, building up the story. A kind of reverse engineering.

FORMAT: Having probably read several thousand books so far, it is interesting to observes the format different authors employ to maintain reader interest – well mine anyway. For any book to ‘grab me,’ it must include the ‘fast start.’ That riveting first few lines that gets me quickly on board and commands attention. After that different authors take varying routes. These can range from what I call multi section chapters – that is where a series of small star signs are employed to separate informative sections, each covering different scenes. Then there is the short chapter author. In this case, each chapter consists of just a few pages – all fully informative of course. These are the novels that one tends to keep saying, ‘I’ll just read one more chapter before turning off the light.’ I’m sure that each style must take a good degree of mastering and I enjoy them all. However, I am not a fan of lengthy chapters of descriptive detail that, in the end, contain only minimal action. One recent read almost reminded me of a jolly good travel book, infiltrated by an unfortunate murder. But, in the end, I guess book reading is no different to wine drinking. While it’s fun to experiment, we invariably go back to what we like!

Pleasant reading.

Peter Warrilow