Sunday, July 02, 2006

By the Book...

...or How To Write a Novel That Is Guaranteed To Get Published

01. At a media event get introduced to somebody in the business (not previously known for their writing skills) who trumpets their good luck in landing a book deal.

02. Prop up the bar with the Designated Author and listen to them whine about having trouble with the “technical aspects” of the novel.

03. Offer to help with the dreaded “technical aspects” so that they will just shut up about it and everyone can get back to some serious drinking.

04. Take tea with the Designated Author. Listen to their story pitch. Read the existing outline and try not to look surprised when you turn the last page and realise that’s it?!

05. In the nicest possible way, explain to the Designated Author that the story seems “a little thin” and suggest it could do with being beefed up.

06. Submit a more substantial outline (preferably one that actually makes sense) and listen to the Designated Author moan about how they are moving house soon and don’t know when they’ll be able start writing the novel.

07. Hear someone offer to make a start on it. Look around the room to see who has walked in then try not to appear surprised/horrified when you realise it’s your voice.

08. Expand on the main plot and subplots, characters and their back-stories, and the “technical aspects” in the downtime between existing projects.

09. Send the Designated Author the work in progress. Wait to hear them say: “This is great, but I can take over now.” After a long pause realise that rather than helping with the “technical aspects” you are now actually writing the novel.

10. Discover that the expected word-count ceiling is 100,000 words. Enquire about the deadline.

11. Write the novel during the shrinking gaps between already scheduled projects. Enquire about the deadline.

12. Try not to scream/bang your head against the wall when the Designated Author finally gets back with the news that the deadline is in two weeks. Delay/cancel as many existing projects as possible.

13. Wake up. Turn on the computer. Write a minimum of 3,000 words a day. Go to sleep. Repeat.

14. Go off and film part of another projects for two days. In no way will this help making the deadline.

15. Email the Designated Author and suggest that the finished chapters are sent to the publisher (just in case).

16. Race to get the last couple of chapters done. Send them to the Designated Author to pass on to the publisher.

17. Turn off the computer. And... relax.

18. Two hours later turn the computer back on and add another three hundred-odd words. Send the revised final chapters to the Designated Author to pass on to the publisher.

19. Start to spend the advance.


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