Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The book you're reading is influencing your writing: how to make it work for you!

It’s work day for me today: I’m banging through that long list of jobs I’ve been juggling and not quite dropping.   So if you’ve been waiting to hear back from me on something, chances are an email is on its way!

Back to the topic of today’s post and it’s something of a follow up from the previous post which was all about reading and why that is important when you’re trying to write.   How you start to write like the writer you're reading.  And how use this.   
So: you pick up a book.  You like the style.  The next morning you sit down to write, and find that the author has got into your brain.  They're taking over your personality.  You’re starting to write like them!  There's a puppet master in your brain! 

Well: there are two choices: stop reading or stop writing, and neither of them are very attractive. 
How to make it work for you? 
It’s pretty simple really: you pick a book that’s similar to the one what you want to write.  Need a bit of romance into your spy thriller: pick up Love in the Time of Cholera.  Want to put some dramatis into your novel, read Homer.  Looking for a gritty post apocalypse feel: read Game of Thrones.  Need authentic details in your military Sci-Fi novel: read one of the Special Forces novels set in Iraq.   The details you want, or the ‘feel’ of the writing will seep into your own.  I promise! 

I’ve used this process a number of times: each in a different way. 
With Shieldwall, I set out to do something I hadn’t done before – write a real page-turner.  I felt pretty confident about writing pretty sentences and getting the characters right, but there’s a knack to page-turners, and so I set a pile of genre fiction by my bedside, and soaked that deep.

When I was writing The Drink and Dream Teahouse, a novel set in modern China, I wanted to absorb some of the sensibilities of that part of the world, and tore through a pile of Chinese fiction and poetry before I went to sleep at night – and let it simmer away in my subconscious all night - so that a flavour of it would come through next morning when I started to write.

 Trust me: it'll work.  ;-)



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why I'm writing less and reading more: and prospects for 2013

The bad news is I missed my deadlines for Hastings last year.   Unfortunately for you, it means that you'll have to wait an extra year to read the sequel to Shieldwall.

The good news is that I'm well into the novel, and it's going really well.  I'm enjoying the characters, the story and the way they're interacting, which means that it'll be a cracker when it comes out, in spring 2014.

Having said all that: i've got a lot of work to do, and one of the great things about the Christmas break was that it gave me time to read.  And this is where I've so far managed to keep to my resolution, which is to give myself more time to read: because when I'm emptying my imagination at a furious rate, there's nothing better to refill it than some great fiction. 

I've finished two books so far this year: Martin Booth's Gweilo, an account of Childhood in 50s Hong Kong, and George RR Martin's A Storm of Swords, a mere whipper-snapper of a novel at 424,000 words, according to this little gem of a website.  http://www.cesspit.net/drupal/node/1869

I'm currently into the sequel: which is a lightweight 300,000 words (why do people give Martin a hard time about how long his novels take to write: he's writing the Bible! - Actually he's written two Bibles, as the Bible clocks in at 773,000 and The Song of Ice and Fire is so far twice as long as that....) and really savouring the many pleasures of a good book. 

I'm excited about this year: not because it's 2013 or the world's going to end, but because there are going to be some very interesting developments this year as I move into ebooks: subscribe to my mailing list to make sure you'll be the first to know.  http://www.justinhillauthor.com/get-in-touch/