Novel Problems and Writing Again

August 6th 2015 · Read More · No Comments


It’s been a while since I posted anything on here, and while I’ve been writing, it’s mostly been editing and reworking things. They say that the second novel is often the hardest to write, and that has certainly been my experience.


The second novel has been a bit of a nightmare, firstly because the first finished draft (finished about the time I last posted on here) was riddled with problems. Length, plot holes and stupid mistakes were just a few of the issues, resulting in an almost total rewrite. It is just about ready now to go back to my beta readers, with an additional 15,000 words. I’m hoping that the draft is as pristine as I can make it and ready to go up on Amazon in the next couple of weeks.

Thank Goodness for Scrivener

Moving things around, cutting scenes and even a chapter, and then adding new stuff, has certainly been easier with Scrivener. I can have two versions of whatever I’m working on, so I can see where the cuts and edits need to be made- it’s still been a nightmare. For starters, the first draft took ages to put together, and the more I looked at it, the more I knew it had significant problems, fortunately also spotted by my beta readers.

Writing the Third Lambeth Croak

After a long time ringing my hands and beating my brow, I got down to sorting the bugger out, and also get started on the next one. If you’re writing your own books for Kindle, then be aware that the second novel is a lot harder than the first, at least it was for me – the third one has started much more smoothly.

In the final analysis, you have to accept that if you’re a writer, you need to get the writing right. What do you think?


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Writing Kindle Books: Is it Worth Your Time?

September 11th 2014 · Read More · No Comments

If you write for a living then you might want to think about repurposing some of your articles and putting them into book form for Kindle. Amazon Kindle allows you to publish your book for free and sell it online using their platform. People who write fiction and non-fiction publish their work on Kindle, but is it worth the time and the trouble? The quick answer (at least from my point of view) is yes. You may sell a few copies and make coffee money or you may be one of the lucky ones who hit Kindle at the right time with the right book or books and you’re making a decent living thank you very much.


Where the Truth Lies

It is true that some people never sell anything on Kindle, others sell a few copies a month and still others make some real money. Whether it’s worth publishing on Kindle will depend on what you are expecting:

  • Instant fame -forget it
  • Making a fortune – only in a very few cases
  • Making a living – depends on how much you want to earn and also how many books you publish
  • People with 10 books or more tend to make a regular income, even if it’s not enough for them to give up the day job

So What Can You Do?

If you want to achieve any kind of success on Kindle, you need to produce the best book that you possibly can. Get a decent cover if you can afford it and make sure that your book is edited well. Everyone misses something. I got a 1 star review from a very disappointed reader because I’d taken my book down to make some changes, and then uploaded the wrong draft, which had two glaring mistakes on the first page. All you can do under these circumstances is to apologise in the comments, take the book down and make sure you upload the right file.

It is estimated that around 80% of us claim that they have a book inside of them, and I’m talking full length novels here, but only around two percent of that number actually complete the task. Writing a novel and putting it up on Kindle is an achievement, whether it sells or not. I’m one of those people who just about makes coffee money for the month, but I know that when I get more books up there that is more likely to improve.


Bottom Line

The bottom line really is to ask yourself why you write. Most writers would write even if nobody read their work, let alone paid money for it. So you have to ask yourself how much does your writing really mean to you? If you keep on writing and publishing, who knows, you might one day hit that pot of gold at the end of Kindle. If not, at least you have left a trace of your presence for other to see, not something that everyone can say.

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Writing a Series Character

August 6th 2014 · Read More · No Comments

If, like me, you’ve decided that writing the one novel is not sufficient time to really get to know your main character, and to put them through more trials than the most hardened criminal, then your only recourse is to turn that novel into book one of a series. One of the problems that I have found is that you really need to know what motivates your character, probably even more than you suspect what your own motivations might be.

I’ve been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and his way of dealing with characterisation is to drill down deep. You really need to know your character and their life history, but at the same time you need to avoid info dumps of back story. Some of a character’s back story is, no doubt, essential to your story but as Brooks says, it’s better to drip feed the reader some of that information rather than interrupt the narrative flow.


Thinking Like Your Character

You need to know a series character well enough to think as they might think in every situation. In my opinion, writers are to some extent slightly schizophrenic when they’re in the middle of writing a story, particularly a story with a central, series character. Unlike my character in the Lambeth Croak Series, I don’t always see the future problems I might encounter, Bev on the other hand, is always pessimistic when she’s told that a job is a walk over and simply requires a paper chase. What I don’t get is why my series character has more common sense than her creator – and there is the problem. I’ve found that since I started the second novel I have two voices in my head a lot of the time, my own, slightly scatty one, and Bev’s more temperate one. Jazen Terrell argues that ‘series characters should be likeable’ not sure that is the case with mine, or with Sherlock Holmes. Sometimes I think readers take to a character because they are quirky and prickly rather than wholesomely likeable – although I agree with a lot of what Jazen has to say about series characters.


Revealing Character Over Time

A mystery or crime series has to show deeper levels of character as the series progresses. The character arc has to stretch over a number of books and more of the character is revealed with each successive case or story. Keeping a series bible is a great idea as it’s all too easy to forget some significant details in future books. I tend to write a lot of character and plot notes in a notebook, not a series bible as such, but somewhere to go when I forget something. How do you deal with series characters?

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