Tag Archives: Genrecon

Genrecon Australia 2012

Last weekend I went to the inaugural Australian Genrecon and I have to say WOW! What an excellent decision that was. Yay me!

Of course the real congratulations should go to the likes of Peter M BallMeg Vann, and the ninja team from Queensland Writers’ Centre. What a magnificent event they organised and managed!

This was my first ever convention, and I have to admit I had no real idea what to expect (or what I was doing). I read a few tips. Chuck Wendig’s were pretty helpful. A lot of common sense of course but a good guide nonetheless. (He was also quoted in a panel by P M Newton: ‘Plot is Soylent Green’)

The other massive help was Twitter. I was flying basically solo… I knew a couple of people from online interactions, but only one person I’d met face-to-face. So when I walked in to the opening function on Friday night it was a massive relief to start recognising some twitter handles on name tags.

One face I did recognise was International guest of honour Joe Abercrombie. He was surrounded, and congenial and charming and gracious and relaxed and just a wonderful international guest. Full credit to him.

I managed to spark up a chat with Ginger Clark, about whom I knew enough from twitter to give me some icebreakers. We discussed zoos and Australian fauna and Sandy and suddenly the crushing weight of Curtis Brown NY was lifted a little. She’s really a nice person and I had a lot less fear for my Sunday pitch.

The adults only panel was excellent. Good natured and great fun. I worried that I had made a fool of myself in a discussion of the C-bomb, but everyone was great. I’d never considered the difficulty romance writers had choosing between descriptions which were either twee or coarse.

Afterwards I met some great Romance writers who were kind enough to explain to me some of the subtleties of their craft and how careers are forged from one’s writing. Thanks to Denise RossettiNikki LoganAnna Campbell and Alexis (sorry Alexis – I forgot your surname).

I’m on the right, with idiot grin!

Saturday morning was a great highlight. I was running a little late, stopped in for a quick toast and a take-away coffee with the intent of sneaking into a 9am seminar moments late, but Joe was alone at a table, enjoying a pretty good approximation of a full English brekky… what’s a fanboy to do?

Joe was great. We chatted like old pals for nearly an hour. Talked black pudding, Lancaster accents, kids, nappies, travel, Australiana, First Law, Red Country, westerns, my fledgling attempts at a career, Batman as vigilante and Superman as fascist. I got a photo in which I’m grinning like an idiot child on Christmas day.

That an author of his stature should be so welcoming and open, and for him to show such interest in what I was writing, was magnificent and I am so grateful!

The panels were universally excellent. Special mention goes to: Kim Wilkins and her impressive (to me especially) use of Old English; Crime author P M Newton for being so erudite and articulate in the face of Joe Abercrombie’s wise-cracking; Peter Ball and Alex Adsett for their insights into writing as a career; Ginger Clark for her excellent presentation on what an agent does (and how);  the Saturday night Snark from ‘Smart Bitch’ Sarah (Platypus of Doom, Gay Tarot Reading Vampire Were-Roos, Mr Darcy’s horrible secret…); the conversation with Joe Abercrombie (of course).

Thanks also to Peta Freestone and Amie Kaufman for helping me hone my pitch, and to Lindy Cameron of Clan Destine press for her encouraging feedback.

Thanks to everyone who made the weekend so wonderful (especially my wife, who looked after our two boys solo all weekend! How did I get so lucky to have such support?).

It ended with a successful pitch (with a caveat for length) to Ginger Clark and an invitation to submit pages. Could not have hoped for anything more!


Product over profile

For a while now (read several weeks) I’ve been devoting myself to refining my product and this has come at the expense of my profile, on this website, on Facebook, on Twitter, etc… There really is too few hours for me each day at the moment.

The deadline looms for me to have that product ready though. I’ll be attending my first writers’ convention in one week’s time. Flights are booked, accommodation too. I have  some acquaintances with whom I’ll be able to become more acquainted, some twitterati who I will be able to meet IRL, and hopefully there will be new and interesting people for me to meet, with whom to share ideas, discuss our shared and varied experiences of writing, etc…

That said, one highlight for me will be the opportunity to pitch my novel manuscript. It’ll be a verbal pitch, five minutes in a tight schedule where I and presumably many other hopefuls will be trying to convince an agent (or editor, but I have preferenced agents) that we might be worth doing business with.

Worst case scenario it’s a ‘thanks, but…’ response, and I’m tying to establish that as the default expectation, not in a cynical way but in a realist way. Expectations and hopes vary though, and I hope I get a great response and a request for a full manuscript… in which case I better have one to provide which is polished to the point of shining with brilliance.

Now having said all that I’m reminded of some wisdom that came to me via twitter from the dark and twisted (but no less wise for that) mind of Chuck Wendig. Conventions should not be about schlepping the goods and forging commercial interaction protocols. They should be about meeting people as people, not as cogs in an industrial writing complex (or publishing receptacles). Sure that industrial side of the pursuit is there, let’s not be naive, but I’m kinda looking forward to just meeting people and sharing ideas.

Product over profile, people over platforms, proficiency over publication.

Always remember that my stated goal is not to be a published writer (that’s easy enough these days if you have enough spare cash and low enough standards) but to be a good writer (or at least a better one than I was yesterday).


The revisions continue…

I’m struggling to find an appropriate metric to evaluate my progress on this project at the moment, so let’s just deal with raw figures.

I have 93 pages of completed (revised) manuscript. Currently that equates to about 30,000 words (I’m being really rough here).

The total word-count on the document is 197,698 words. That means I only have 167,698 ish words to revise in the next five weeks (when Genrecon arrives).

That’s the road ahead. The road behind though is a little more encouraging: that 197,698 figure is down from 240,141. If my maths is not mistaken (by which I mean my ability to operate the calculator app on my phone) I’ve cut 42,443 words. That’s a good chunk of writing gone. The original Word page count was 766. Now it’s 638. I’ve cut out 128 A4 pages of 12 point Times New Roman.

It also means that of the (approximately) 75,000 words I’ve reviewed through this process 56.6% of them are gone. More than half! In a way that’s liberating, but in another way it’s terrifying. Yet I have faith in the process. I must have faith in the process.

This manuscript was flabby and lazy. For year it had built up its corpulence until it was too sluggish and stubborn to fight back, but now I’ve come to whip it in to shape and by November I want it mean, lean and undeniably impressive!

Five weeks. 167,000 words. 545 pages.

*cue ‘Gonna Fly Now

Challenge accepted.

 


The revisions

I almost entitled this post ‘the re-write’. It almost feels that complete, but in truth it’s not. This is a normal stage of the writer’s craft, the revising.

I likened it in a previous post to sculpting and if I could extend the metaphor a little (indulge me I pray) I’ll refer to pottery (try not to picture me as Patrick Swayze to your Demi Moore)

The 300,000 or so words I had once were a massive block of clay. Too massive. I got that down to 241,000 and sat back and thought ‘that’s a lot of clay I hacked off that sucker. I don’t think any more clay could come off that.’

It took me a while to realise I was wrong. Even when people looked a bit sceptically at my ‘finished piece’ and said ‘gee, it’s pretty big’ (keep your mind out of the gutter!) I thought to myself: ‘yes, yes it is. It is a great big fantasy novel that I have written and I’m fine with that.’ (when really I wasn’t)

I was asking the wrong question, and all those nagging little anomalies I knew were there I ignored because I wasn’t really ready to ask the right question and expose them. So when I did. When I said to myself ‘it’s a big Fantasy novel, but is it really a good one?’ I found that it wasn’t really finished. I had finished drafting. I had started revising. But then I had stopped.

So in the last month or so I’ve been hacking clay away. I’m hovering around 200,000 words now and more must go. That said word count is a secondary concern. Some will be lost, because that is the nature of these revisions. Only the worthiest scenes and sentences may remain. The herd will get stronger because I will kill the weak (to jump from clay to buffalo for a moment. It was a brief visit though, back to clay).

As an update I am currently on page 62 of my revised draft. That’s 18,500 words which have survived my scrutiny. The manuscript is 201,000 words on 649 pages in its current state. (These are MS Word pages based on double-spaced, size 12, TNR font). So in one sense I’m just under 10% of the way through.

That accounting is a bit misleading though because the plot-point I am currently revising took place on page 180 of my 241,000 word manuscript. That manuscript was 766 pages long (MS Word, double-spaced, size 12 TNR). So on that measure I’m about 15% of the way through on page count. I’ve cut out 117 pages and 40,000 words so far. Of the nearly 60,000 words I’ve revised less than a third have survived.

Now it’s worth pointing out that there are reasons for this that mean extrapolating that rate of word-loss is unrealistic. I am not planning to (or going to) end up with a manuscript of 80,000 words. Sure that’s in the range of recommended novel length for a first time author, but I don’t see it happening here. I will end up under 200,000 though, of that I’m quite certain.

 

The goal is to have this thing pitch-ready by Genrecon in November. It’s a daunting goal to be honest, but the exercise is cathartic and I am very confident it is improving my novel, and my writing craft. It is making me a better writer, and that is, after all, my stated goal.