Forum Replies Created
October 1, 2018 at 8:33 pm #1998
Well done, Janette – that’s wonderful news!October 1, 2018 at 10:31 am #1958
Philippa: Something that makes setting interesting is its ability to surprise. I’m thinking of JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy, set in a quaint and fairly well-off Cotswold town that in fact has a lot of socioeconomic problems hiding beneath the surface – poverty, drug abuse. That tension within the setting informs much of the conflict in the plot.
Specific can be good – but nonspecific and made up can also be good! Bedding something in a real location gives the writing a quality of verity, and also deliver a certain payoff in how it honours and represents life in a specific town or region. There is an element of local colour. I have recently been reading Angela Marsons and I get a buzz from the way in which her crime stories bring to life, e.g., the dual carriageway at the end of my mom’s road! But somewhere made up can still achieve much of the same while still giving you freedom, e.g., from getting too worried about getting the representation of a place ‘right’ – we can end up stuck in a trap of literalness. Sometimes, too, very specific locations can seem to narrow the appeal rather than expand them – I think there is a real trick in being able to make the specific universal.September 27, 2018 at 8:27 pm #1876
@Daedalus – that’s exactly what I am getting at. It’s often about a mismatch. And there can often be luck involved, too, though also we can all create some of our own luck. A lot of writing that does not get taken is not picked up because it’s not yet at a professional standard in terms of craft and technique, or because it’s simply unlikely to rouse readers – it’s a bit too flat or unexceptional, or it’s just not where the market seems to be at the moment. Who can predict the market, though? There are often surprises no one really predicted.
@alanr – being positive, and realistic, is important. Creating some of our luck also means being at least a bit cheerful some of the time – no one in any workplace wants to work with a misery-guts! There really can be an element of professionals taking an interest in the writing because the writer seems like someone you like and someone you want to work with. Still need that magic project to let the talent shine, of course.September 27, 2018 at 6:01 pm #1872
All of the above! Failure is such a loaded word. So much depends on expectations, which easily snowball out of control. How many jobs have we applied for and straightaway daydreamed ourselves into that new role, all the way down to the new commute/desk/coffee mug and what we’d do with an increase in salary every month?!
I often encounter the idea of failure in writing in terms of writers submitting to agents and publishers and getting turned down, but it’s the same for contests and pitching matches. Though winning is lovely, I often think that getting shortlisted is the real honour. The selection of the winner among books that are often equally accomplished in craft and style is so often so subjective – it just depends who’s on the judging panel this year. It’s about taste.
Also, sometimes it’s one of the runners-up who’s written the book that gets picked up – it’s not unknown for the full manuscript of a winner to fail to achieve the same effect as the short selection shared in certain contests or pitches. Even greater disappointment there!
I did a post on my blog about being declined, should anyone be interested: Rejected, Or Declined? (Is it okay to post links like that here?)
All the same: there’s still a lot to gain and learn from all of these experiences. Especially ‘learnings’ (whatever happened to ‘lessons’?) to carry forward to the next book.