Wednesday 29 August 2012

What's in a photo?

I recently created a board on Pinterest for my novel 'The Grandson'. When writing/ editing, I use photos quite a lot to help visualise a scene. Many of the photos on this board are my own which I've uploaded.

When editing my manuscript recently, I got stuck on a scene set in Florence where the hero and heroine are standing on the Ponte Vecchio.

I've stood on this bridge a few times, but I couldn't remember exactly what you can see from the bridge. Then I found photos which I took when standing on the bridge a few years ago. Suddenly I could see: rowing boats and a man speaking into a megaphone on a motorboat alongside them; a series of bridges, the next one along with cars driving over it. There were flats with balconies and graffiti on the wall where the hero and heroine would have been standing.

About the Ponte Vecchio:

The Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge in Florence which wasn't destroyed during The Second World War. However, buildings at each end of the Ponte Vecchio were destroyed to deny access to it.

There is a statue of Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571)-an artist, sculptor and painter-on the Ponte Vecchio. In recent years lovers have locked padlocks to the railing around the statue and thrown the key into the river Arno. There is now a fine for doing this. I spent a few hours once researching Benvenuto Cellini and the padlock story hoping to use it in some way (all fascinating stuff), then I realised I couldn't use it because my novel is set in 1994-before anyone was doing it.

Have you created a board for your novel on Pinterest?

Do you find photos useful when writing/editing?

I'd be interested to read your comments on anything relating to the above.

A similar post-Bringing scenes to life with photographs

Monday 20 August 2012

Does writing shorter pieces help with editing a novel?

I recently wrote three short pieces:

1. Two 75 word stories for paragraph planet: How Times Change and How It Was

2. The last 100 words of a collaborative story started by Michelle Elvy: This Day

3. A travel writing article when returning from holiday for a national newspaper's competition. It didn't win, but I found squeezing my 2 week holiday experience into 500 words a challenge. The angle had to be right and every word had to be geared towards that angle, much like with the plot in a novel. Writing the article was a good exercise and when I returned to my novel the following day, I saw it through different eyes.

I've written short pieces in writing classes before during timed exercises. The difference between timed exercises and having as much time as you like is that you can edit the piece until you're happy with it.

Editing a short piece of writing can take up to an hour or even two hours, but it's not as much work as editing a novel. For all of the above pieces, I wrote more than the required word count and edited down depending on whether words were relevant to the story/ angle. I ended up with pieces I was pleased with. However with How It Was , my editing brain noticed after submitting that it should say: [in its place] instead of [replacing where it had been] because I'd already said [had been] at the beginning of the sentence. If I'd made this change, I would have needed to readjust the rest of the paragraph to make up the 75 words.

Writing short pieces is almost like building muscle in the gym to be a faster runner.

Now that I've sent my manuscript to the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme, I shall be getting back to Book 2 with current working title 'The Painting'. I'd like to write more flash fiction and maybe some short stories too.

I'd be interested to read your comments on anything relevant to the above. Do you have any points to add re editing or writing short fiction/articles?