Day 412 – Investment.

What’s your investment in your creative endeavour?

The Number One Bestselling Thriller writer Lee Child had been fired from his TV job so sat down to write a novel which sold. The alternative was his wife’s suggestion that he could be a ‘reacher’ in a supermarket.

He was pretty invested in getting that book finished and finding a publisher.

What about you?

To be invested you don’t need to be on the verge of plunging your family out onto the street, but I would suggest you do need a reason to be serious about what you are doing.

It might be that it is your lifelong ambition to get one of your paintings hung in a gallery. Great. Tell me which gallery and by what date?

You think you can write a better screenplay that the one you just sat through for two hours and wasted the ticket price on? Great. Write it and submit it.

Your investment is what you didn’t do to achieve your goal. Time. Money. Relationships.

Skulking off to your creative cave for the odd ten minutes to type a paragraph or mix some paint, or strum a few chords, isn’t investment.

It’s like the Matrix. The blue pill is you play creative. The red pill is you chase your creativity down that rabbit hole.

Writer or Reacher?

Which one will you be?

Day 95 – The Art of TV and Novels Meet?

First, Read This:

TV Novel

Nothing new, right? Charles Dickens was doing a similar thing back in the day. Worked out pretty well for him.

Eventually, someone is beginning to think differently about how we consume the written word. Culturally there have been massive changes in how we consume media/entertainment, in the last five years, in terms of music, film, and tv.

SerialBox is now changing the face of how we consume novels.

Whether you wait patiently for each weekly episode/chapter, or whether you binge-read, the possibilities of returning each week to our favourite characters and following them through a wider story arc, as well as self-contained adventures, will definitely catch-on.

Why wait for a whole year for the next Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch story to land, after you consumed the latest one within twenty-four hours?

I would definitely pay for a chapter a week from my favourite authors.

I do think there is a different dynamic between a novelist releasing a chapter per week and the tv writer/writer’s room dynamic, however. I like the format, but there are more tv-series that I’ve stopped watching because the writers have had to re-jig the dynamics/story-line because the series has been renewed on the last episode, and they have been writing as if it is their last, than I’ve kept with.

You have to build a dynamic between characters episodically and keep with it in a much longer story arc, rather than trying to do that in every episode.

Plot lines can become tethered to the three-act storyline in each episode and the important over-all plot get lost somewhere about episode/chapter eight.

I love the fact that writers/publishers are starting to think differently.

I definitely think this kind of format will be a hit with younger readers.

Ballard, Bosch, Reacher.

News on my three favourite characters in fiction came out yesterday.

Michael Connelly revealed that his next book will see his new heroine Renée Ballard team up with his most famous hero Harry Bosch. I guarantee fans of Connelly are trying to find ways to shorten the months so October gets here quicker. News broke of the book’s title Dark Sacred Night and a brief synopsis on his website:

Dark Sacred Night

On the same day, Lee Child revealed the title of the 23rd Jack Reacher novel via his Facebook feed. The novel, out in November, will be called Past Tense and will set Reacher searching the past and his father.

Past Tense

Ballard, Bosch, Reacher. Dark Sacred Night. Past Tense.

I don’t think the year is going to fictionally get better than this.


Five Friends Continued.

In my last post, Five Friends, I put a spin on the old saying that you are a reflection of your five closest friends.

I asked you to consider who your five closest writers were.

I thought it only fair to invite you into the circle of my five closest authors.

  1. Ray Bradbury – My first introduction to Mr. Bradbury was through a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, borrowed from my father’s bookcase. I must have read it over a hundred times before I was out of my teens. Then came the short story collections and Fahrenheit 451. I love the fact that he really does let his imagination take over and you are often presented with something which seems like the world you are familiar with but then he adds the twist.
  2. Lee Child – The first Lee Child book I read was Without Fail, which was bought for me by my youngest son from a school fair when he was only six or seven years old. It is still my favourite Jack Reacher book. Anyone who reads a Reacher story, immediately wants to be Reacher. It is because of Lee Child that I completed my first novel, after reading Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me by Andy Martin. Martin basically peered over the shoulder of Lee Child whilst he was writing the novel Make Me and asked him lots of questions. Learning that it was okay to write not quite knowing where you would end up really helped me complete a story or even begin it to start with. Following normal writers’ advice and plotting in detail left with a sense that the story was completed and my brain had already moved onto the next idea before writing any sentences of the first idea.
  3. Haruki Murakami – I picked up Norwegian Wood, in its replica form of the Japanese original in the two-part red and green books. This was quickly followed by Sputnik Sweetheart, and South of the Border, West of the Sun. I have all of his books, including a signed first edition of Kafka on the Shore, which my wife bought for me. Murakami’s style of blending coming of age stories with a sense of the mysterious, is very much in the Ray Bradbury way of story telling. He also owned a jazz bar and likes coffee – why wouldn’t I include him?!
  4. Michael Connelly – I will confess that I had not read any of Connelly’s work until after I had seen the first season of Bosch, starring Titus Welliver. Now I am hooked on both the tv series and the novels of Harry Bosch. His new character of Renée Ballard in The Late Show is an instant hit as well. I love the way Connelly’s novels are so detailed in procedure and description of place; even though these are the two biggest weaknesses in my own writing. Bosch’s need to right wrongs, no matter what the cost, is very compelling.
  5. P.G. Wodehouse – My wife takes the credit for this one! Wodehouse is her favourite author, especially Jeeves and Wooster, and Lord Emsworth at Blandings Castle. I can’t tell you the number of hours in which these characters have rattled around my head via audiobooks. What has remained is the flow of the conversations between the characters and the simple but effective plotting. If you haven’t encountered Wodehouse then what are you waiting for?

So, there you go. My famous five. Along with a few simple reasons why.

I look forward to hearing about your five.

Where You Live.

In, British designer and tv presenter, Kevin McLoud’s 43 Principles of Home, he makes the following observations in Principle 16,

Make the context of where you live part of your narrative . . . Research local history . . . Memorise your landmarks . . . Study the flora, fauna, and geology of your place . . .

And most importantly,

Invent a story for your place.

So what is the story of your place?

I confess to being poor at the background setting and surroundings. For me a building is a building and the number of floors might make a difference if I need the protagonist to jump off, but I’m not to fussy about the name or the colour or any other feature of significance.

However, for many novels and stories, the place is significant.

Reviewers and journalists write of Inspector Morse’s Oxford, or Rebus’ Edinburgh. Lee Child gives the latest place Jack Reacher visits a name and some curious quirk of past history, even if he does confess to making some of it up on occasion.

So, consider giving your story’s location an overhaul in terms of location information.

Readers seem to like being able to fix a story to a particular location.

Or, consider where you live and, as per Principle 16, invent a story for right there.

100% What You Want.

Bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series, Lee Child, wrote about reading and writing,

. . . You never find a book that’s 100% what you want, so you have to write it yourself.

So what is your favourite genre? Or writer? And what are they not doing which you want them to?

Now take those ideas and begin to craft the story you most want to read.

Lee Child probably won’t make Jack Reacher President and tackle key issues in his usual straight forward style. John Le Carre probably won’t team George Smiley up with Jason Bourne. And maybe Tom Hardy won’t become the next James Bond.

But there will be a lot of other readers out there which will think like you do and they will be happy to discover your books.