Writing, life, politics

Category: Writing Events (Page 2 of 2)

Marie Phillips at London Writers’ Club

Last night I went to the London Writers Club to hear a talk by Marie Phillips, author of Gods Behaving Badly. (You may remember that I mentioned this event last week).

It was really good. She gave a lot of good advice, too much to mention, so I’ll just mention two things that really struck me.

The first is that sometimes you have to give up, which is not what people normally say.

It’s very hard to write a novel, and you often get really depressed and discouraged. Because of this, the advice everyone almost invariably gives is to not give up, to keep going, even when you’re convinced it’s an utter pile of horseshit. And that’s usually good advice. But as Marie pointed out, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you find yourself working on something that simply isn’t working, that you simply can’t fix, and then you need to let it go.

The analogy she gave was brilliant:

If you’re in a relationship with someone, you don’t leave them just because you’ve had a row. You do everything you can to try and make it work.

But you don’t marry everyone you date.

As someone who’s started a lot more novels than I’ve ever completed, that was very reassuring. (Although now I think about it, I think I’ve started more novels than I’ve dated women… which is less reassuring).

Anyway… The second piece of advice was a largely throw-away remark about chapters in first drafts, which is not to worry about them. Marie was talking about how much her first draft gets rewritten in later drafts, and says that because of this she just bashes the first draft out as one long document, broken into scenes/sections, but not into chapters.

Which made so much sense. I agonise over where to put chapter breaks, and often find myself going round in circles. I’ll have one scene whose end might be perfect for the end of a chapter… but it’s perhaps only 1500 words from the last chapter break, and maybe I’m trying to average 3000-4000 words for a chapters. So maybe, I think, I should remove that previous chapter break, merging this too-short chapter with the previous one… but then that chapter’s now 5,100 words which is way too long.

You see what I mean.

So when she said that I realised she was right. If you’re probably going to end up making substantial changes to your first draft anyway, why bother with chapter breaks? Just write the damn thing, redraft it, and then sit down and work out the best way to chop it up. After all, the last thing you want to find yourself doing when redrafting is thinking: “I need to take this scene out because it’s redundant… but then the chapter will be too short. Damn.”

Oh, and having bought a copy of Gods Behaving Badly from Marie last night (signed, and everything!) I’m about a third of the way in and really enjoying it. Well worth a read.

July’s London Writers’ Club

Hi all,

Got the an email from Jacqueline Burns and Kirsty McLachlan of the London Writers’ Club which I’ve fused together with some text from the website to produce the following:

An Evening With Marie Phillips

How to write a novel – from idea to publication

Our July speaker is Marie Phillips, author of the bestselling novel, Gods Behaving Badly. Translated into over 18 languages, it was number one in Canada and a bestseller in the UK and the States.

Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a delapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out…Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.

Film rights have been optioned by Ben Stiller’s, Red Hour Films.

Marie’s blog womanwhotalkedtoomuch ‘acts like my umbilical cord to the outside world. It’s such an isolating thing, being a writer. I live alone, I work alone, so the blog makes me feel part of some kind of writing community… plus, it’s practice. Like doing scales on the piano.’ Her novel-writing is largely done in pyjamas. ‘I doze while deliberately thinking about what I’m writing and then try and get a good hour done before I’m properly awake. It’s a very fluid time.’

Marie will be talking to us about how to write a novel – from idea to publication – whether you write in pjs or not!

Where, when and how to book

Date: July 7
Time: 6.30-9pm  (speaker 7-8, networking 8-9)
Place: Clerkenwell House, 23-27 Hatton Wall, EC1
Tickets: £10 in advance, £15 on the door

There will be time to mingle and network with other writers before and after the speaker.

If you want to pay in advance, there’s a PayPal link at the bottom of the webpage. I’ll confess that I don’t know anything about Marie, but on the basis of a particular piece I found while browsing through her blog…

Today on Twitter the lovely Keris asked me to remind her of my editing / make-up analogy from my “legendary” now-defunct previous blog Struggling Author, and having tracked it down and read it, I found I enjoyed it a lot, in the way that one can only enjoy things one has written oneself and then completely forgotten every having written. So, for your delectation, here is a rare insight into the joy that is Being A Writer.

Rest of post…

…I’m pretty eager to hear her talk. I’m hoping to be there, having enjoyed the previous two events I’ve attended, and I look forward to seeing anyone else who might turn up.

London Writers’ Club

A while ago I posted about the next meeting of the London Writers’ Club. Well that meeting (June 9th) was postponed because of the tube strike, and is instead on tomorrow night (Tuesday 16th June).

This is good for me, as I couldn’t make last Tuesday.

Anyhow, I’ll be there. If anyone’s into writing and fancies a little support, chat, and networking, I’d recommend it.

London Writers’ Club

One for the (London-based) writers among you.

The London Writers Club is a new monthly event put on by a couple of agents, with the intention of allowing writers (both working and prospective) to network. A friend of mine put me onto it a few weeks ago. Like I said, it’s fairly new (I believe that the event I attended was its third), but the event I went to was very professionally put on and had drawn quite a crowd. It does cost to get in, but the talk we had (by author Matt Whyman) was very good, and I had some really interesting chats with some of the other attendees.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the next event as I’m busy that evening, but I definitely intend to go to future events. However, they’ve got the details up on their website so I thought I’d put them up here:

London Writers’ Club

‘An inspiring networking club for writers run by publishing professionals, Kirsty Mclachlan and Jacqueline Burns.’

June 9 speaker: Script Factory’s Lucy Scher
What does it take to turn a book or idea into a great script for the screen?

Lucy has worked with writers on short, feature and documentary projects. She has delivered courses for production companies, MEDIA training courses and the UK Film Council; and conducts development training for The Script Factory both in the UK and internationally. She also runs screenwriter training for the Arvon Foundation.

Date: June 9

Time: 6.30-8pm, Bar opens 6pm

Venue: Clerkenwell House, 23-27 Hatton Wall, Clerkenwell EC1

If you’d like to meet other writers and be inspired to take your writing to the next level the London Writers’ Club is for you.

If hanging out with all sorts of writers who share practical advice about writing is what you need then come along to a London Writers’ Club event.

Tickets: £10 in advance and £15 on the door.


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