Did I mention I’m writing a novel – a joint effort with my criminologist daughter? It’s a kind of grip-lit character-led thriller.
Standing in the supermarket queue, that’s the sort of thing to drop into a conversation beginning with Irish weather/Brexit/refugees/the price of petrol/Leo-at-the-helm (delete as appropriate). Or is it?
Since we went public with our plans to write a novel together – we’re ‘Luri Cole’ (a mix of Louise and Rhiannon), we seem to have ground to a halt. The more people we tell, the slower moving the project, or so it seems. Not sure why.
Originally, we thought we might write the book in chapters, each one finishing on a cliff hanger. I’d write the story into a corner and Rhiannon would write it out again, and then into another problem for me to solve. Like a game of consequences. Simples. Ha!
Instead, we plotted it quite carefully and drew up a set of characters we believe in. Now we’ve the story and the first 50,000 words. But.
And then today, while Rhiannon was slaving over a hot stove (which is another story which might turn into a rant about decent job opportunities for criminologists in mid-west Ireland, so I’ll keep it to myself), I took myself off to an editing workshop for writers.
Another workshop? Well, yes.
Trust me, there’s no end to the number of tips and insights you can get from meeting working authors. And I really enjoyed this one.
Elizabeth Reapy’s workshop was in the Linenhall, Castlebar, County Mayo. I recommend her novel ‘Red Dirt’, which some might find surprising given my stance on cursing and swearing. ‘Red Dirt’ is a cracking (very sweary!) story of young Irish ones in Australia. But in the same way that Donal Ryan and Kevin Barry churn out the hair-curling vernacular, the language is pivotal to the characters’ story and it races along in a way that made me want to keep turning the pages (or swiping, I read it as an e-book).
At the workshop, Elizabeth recommended we write down what we find difficult in our writing, and later suggested we might ask one of our characters to tackle a part of the story that isn’t working.
Ah, ha! There followed a light bulb moment, and I rushed home to pick up Luri Cole’s story where we’d last left off. We’ve already changed tense, points of view, and ditched a main character, but there was something else wrong, and it has only now occurred to me what that is and how we can fix it.
Recently, I was at Listowel Writers’ Week, at another excellent workshop, this time with short story writer Danielle McLaughlin. And over several days, I got to listen to some successful new(ish) authors talking about their novels – and I found the whole thing very inspirational.
My favourites were Liz Nugent (‘Lying in Wait’), Kit de Waal (‘My Name is Leon’) and Jess Kidd (‘Himself’). All come highly recommended by me (as well as by just about everyone else).
If Luri Cole’s forthcoming novel can be anywhere near as entertaining as these, I think we might be onto a winner.
Time to superglue bums to seats in front of the laptop and finish the damn thing!