I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
Deadlines are meant to induce stress. I know none of us wants more stress in our lives (do you?), but most writers I know struggle with two things: discipline and focus. A reasonable deadline helps with both.
A little bit of stress focuses me on completing a task. A definite deadline can keep your bottom in the chair and your fingers on the keys much better than “inspiration,” that fickle muse, ever could.
How do you set valid deadlines, so they don’t just whoosh by as they did for Douglas Adams?
As I have found by completing more of my first draft in a month and a half than the previous year, you fix a penalty for not achieving a word count. I do dislike word counts as they become a target and I am an underwriter, so I usually fall short of any desired word count and add fluff words just to pan things out and use words.
Having put all that into consideration, I would recomend that you set up deadlines and don’t make a self-reminder or self-incrimination act to reprimand yourself for missing it. What you need is someone else to carry out the forfeit. Money is usually the best way to do this. Give someone £100 and have weekly deadlines, say Fridays so that you submit work every Friday and if you miss more than two Fridays they get to keep the £100.
It works fine for myself.
I am within the 7th week of this 14 and a half week course, and things are getting harder. I usually write at least 1,000 words every weekday and have the weekend off, except for Saturday morning when I spend about 4 hours Saturday morning critiquing 3 to 4 people’s submissions that they had updated on Fridays.
We have to submit every Friday somewhere in the region of 2,500 to 7,500 words each week. By the 19th June which is the final submission day, we should have 65,000 words. Moreover, a finished first draft of our novels.
I did start my novel by pantsing it, and after about 15,000 words I did not know where the story was going. So I stopped and thought that I should outline the story of my novel. I also looked at the different genres of crime fiction and opted for the hardboiled detective.
The Write Practice has given me room for thought on where my novel is set and where I get my ideas. It is true that if you help other writers by critiquing their submissions, then you receive help back from them. The outline is relatively basic, so when I come to write that section, it is still open to a significant amount of change that comes to my mind when I go through the scene.
The first-person point of view is actually told like a diary entry, a personal narrative, or a running annotation of the first person’s thoughts. The reader does not see this character from the outside but only through the character’s eyes which have access to thoughts and feelings.
There’s a danger to watch out for, though: filter words.
Filter words put distance between the reader and your first-person character, filtering that character’s encounter. Let’s look at an example to get a better sense:
This was magic school? I stood and stared at it; I thought it seemed to be set up to depress us. I saw the green hill rising from the earth like some cancer, and I could hear the voices of students on the wind, chanting soullessly, as if the wonder and awe of true magic had been whitewashed from their lives.
Not sure what to look for in the paragraph? Here it is with the filter words removed.
This was magic school? It seemed to be set up to depress us. The green hill rose from the earth like some cancer, and the voices of students carried on the wind, chanting soullessly as if the wonder and awe of true magic had been whitewashed from their lives.
What was removed? I thought, I saw, I could hear. In other words, the words that were removed were anything that had you, the reader, looking at her looking at things, rather than looking at the things she saw.
This is the true first-person: being behind the character’s eyes. I have to say in my First Draft, it is riddled with these filters. I have more words to delete.
This update is about my progress to my first draft of my first novel in crime fiction. I am on Day 38 of 100 on a course called Write a Book in 100 Days, by The Write Practice.
Here are my observations:
1. The course is $100 more expensive, but if you complete your weekly deadlines of posting the 4,500 words you wrote during that week for 15 weeks, then you will have the money returned. While you reach a total of 65,000 words after 100 days.
I have to say, this type of deadline pressure does help you find the time and actually to meet the word count. Although, you can miss two deadlines of the course and still receive the $100 refund.
2. There are about 140 students on this course, and we are embedded in groups of 10 people. Each week on Fridays I have to submit my chapter. Before the next Friday, I have to read at least three other people’s submissions and critique their work.
This critique of 2000 to 7000 words is not as easy as it sounds. As it is a first draft then spelling, grammar and punctuation is not an issue. Not even ‘Show, don’t tell’ is an issue you can highlight.
I often write at the top of my submission that all I am interested in is how fast it is progressing and what the voice of the narration sounds like to the reader.
I have to congratulate Joe Bunting in creating such a helpful course.
At the end of the day, the characters are the most critical part of your story. They’re the ones with which your readers empathise; they’re the ones your readers will finish the book to follow. Some people have told me to write backstories and investigate every detail of their lifestyle so I can use them in a way that is consistent.
Here’s my simple principle: whatever makes it into the window frame of your story has to either impact your characters somehow or at least impact a role in a way that will grab your reader’s attention.
Build up your new world. Play and have fun. Go crazy with them. Then when it comes to your story, just make sure that the parts are seen through the window frame matter to the characters. It’s not who the characters are at the beginning, it’s what they do within the timeframe of your story. Their actions are what people see of them. A personality whom is merely upset and looks downwards is very different from a character that stands tall and slaps the face of the other actor that said something nasty.
Out of the novels, tv series and movies that contain heroes. It has been pointed out to me that there are only three different types, and they are:
The Classic Hero
In the most sense, these protagonists are people that comprise all the best natures of our society. Some may have superpowers like Spiderman, Wonder woman, Superman and Batman. Everyone trusts them to be victorious over the evil antagonist. The writer must then put considerable obstacles in front of the protagonist to make the work more difficult for them to succeed.
The Every Man Hero
This hero is every one of us, but just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We find that there are some things that we all regularly do and connect with them on that particular level. The work to become our spokesperson within the land of courageous action. Some of these heroes include: John McClane from Die Hard, Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men or Harrison Ford in Six Days Seven Nights.
This character comprises all the rotten things in our society. They are the nasty villain but are also on the right guy’s side. They are likely to be the favourite character because the story arc is the most hottest. An Anti-Hero I appreciate is Riddick from Pitch Black. Also, I think humour plays a part as I also like Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers.
Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction
This is the opposite of the ‘Cosy’ crime. The cosy crime being able to be read by young children. The ‘Hard-Boiled’ novel has terrible language, maybe a sexual encounter and the book is covered in blood dripping onto your lap. The gory details are graphic and intense. These stories are not very violent, but the results of violence are imaged.
The term ‘Hard-Boiled’ was started in the 1920s California. The Protagonist detective should have some significant flaws that need to hinder the capture of the criminal, but we have the impression that the detective knows and has an absolute sense of what is right and wrong.
It is possible to have some fun with dreaming up some buried and embedded flaws for the detective.
Unlike the ‘cosy’ sub-genre the hard-boiled sub-genre would need a lot of research into violent crime, forensics, blood splatter, and wounds.
The Noir detective genre was created in California of 1930-1940s. It just means ‘Dark’ so it was related to the black and white movies of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.
In modern days the Noir terms have been used in contemporary world fiction like; Icelandic noir, Nordic noir and recently Brighton Noir.
Noir is just dark. If you think about the colours grey, black and the pollution on city streets with a sick and lower class of people on the streets.
Usually, the protagonist has a flaw that impinges them in different ways. This makes it fun to explore the human condition and hidden fears or torments that we find in us all.
It will be a necessity to become comfortable in adopting a gritty and direct writing style.
Police Procedurals: are the Crime Fiction sub-genre that focuses on the police methodology. This includes true-to-life details about forensic investigations and a medical examiner, other police roles.
It is most often told in first person narration from one of the specialists.
In modern-day events, you could excite your reader with the flashy terms used and the equipment that reveals the truth about what really went on in a crime scene.
There is a lot of research needed to be done beforehand, so you are familiar with the correct usage of the flashy terms used. But don’t use too much and imply that the reader is stupid. As we already know from previous posts that the reader is intelligent.
The Spy Thriller
The hero/heroine of the story is usually a spy in another country, and working for a sort of intelligence agency. From the beginning, there is a significant crisis or threat that looms above the nation of the agency. This sub-genre would read like a fast, action-packed adventure. This should have you turning the pages at some speed, and barrel rolling towards the climax.
Some knowledge of the politics, religions, finances, wars or status of the second country would be an advantage. Works by Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum are a few of my favourites.
Not centring on murder or violence is permissible and liked.
This is a challenging market to crack into as it is commanded by John le Carre, who has the substance one would need to make it credible.