Blog for budding Sheikhspeares entering National Novel Writing Month 2006

July 21, 2008

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A Prayer for Barbara Cartland

aka, The Agony of Writing Romance Scenes:

secretdubai: "He studied it for some moments, and then he suddenly turned to her, and lifted his hand to the side of her face. His eyes burned into hers. "People either yield to danger or they don't," he said. Then before she had time to react, his lips were on hers.
"Phoebe felt a lurch of desire. But as suddenly as he had embraced her he went, leaving her feeling more shellshocked than the burglary."
snow_white: I like the first bit of your rewrite, with the eyes burning bit
second bit - what about
"Phoebe felt a lurch of desire. But, just as suddenly as he had kissed her, he left, leaving her feeling feeling empty, and a little more bruised than before."
secretdubai: embraced rather than kissed?
snow_white: embraced sounds a little mills and boon. Go with kiss
secretdubai: oh it's so ELEGANT!
ok, but not sure about bruised
it suggests he might actually have bruised her
snow_white: but you get what i mean?
secretdubai: and if Hamid is bruising Susie
I can't have all the men as wifebeaters
snow_white: I'm searching for the mot juste between shellshocked and normal
shellshocked not really
secretdubai: how about "stunned"?
leaving her "stunned and slightly disorientated"
that sounds as though she has Meuniere's Disease of the inner ear
like my grandmother had
snow_white: emotionally battered?
secretdubai: NO!!!
that sounds like FISH!!!!!
fish is battered!
snow_white: LOL
secretdubai: "breathless" would be like a crappy popsong
snow_white: sucker punch
secretdubai: "stunned and confused"?
snow_white: leave a row of XXXXs, it'll come to me
secretdubai: ok!
snow_white: there's a word stirring deep in my subconscious
secretdubai: just not too XXXX
these are early stages yet

NaNoWriMo Revivication

Time to dust the cobwebs off this long forgotten blog, as I finally - yes, years have passed - get round to finishing my 2006 novel, and we start preparing for NaNoWriMo 2008.

Anyone who would like to do the contest this year do drop a comment below and we can add you to the team here (assuming you put an email below or have one on your profile).

Did anyone get their 2006 effort published yet? I've kept my eyes peeled for the Booker and Pulitzer lists, but I have to say nothing springs to recognition so far. And last year's Nobel winner, Doris Lessing, wasn't a member here so far as I know.

So let's all try and do even better this year, as we come into the tenth anniversary of NaNoWriMo.

November 29, 2006

do i get a prize for coming second?

I HAVE COMPLETED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Haven't had more than 4 hours sleep since Thursday, but I did it!

And, while bypassing one final loose end i wanted to tie up, I actually finished the story. Of course, will have to go back and do extensive rewrites, but who cares - for the next few hours, I will be smug.

November 28, 2006

I got my 50k! I got my 50k!

Woo-hoo! Tonight's total was 1524, bringing the Grand Nano Total to 50,071. Excerpt:

Mark tried not to show his disappointment at the translations, but his expression was noticeably crestfallen. "Oh, thanks."

"Were you hoping for something rather more intriguing?" Miller said kindly.

"Yes, somewhat. If it had meant something like the Masons, or Al Qaeda, it would have seemed a lot more definite," he said.

"The East is a region thick with rumours and conspiracies," Miller said. "It's best to take most things you hear with a pinch of salt. The locals spend a lot of time chattering in the coffeehouses and the majilises. For them it's a kind of pastime, a sport. Certainly nothing to give much serious attention to."

But the story is so far from finished it is depressing and terrifying. I estimate at least another ten thousand words are needed. That's quite apart from all the structural and stylistic rewrite, plus trying to put in clues and things that I haven't even worked out yet.

November 27, 2006

The eleventh hour

I thought about trying to make the 50k tonight, but I haven't, and I'm kind of glad I didn't. Although my novel is going to need a lot more than 50k to wrap everything up and flesh out the sub plot/red herrings, I want to reach the 50k by writing at least the first draft of the final scene. That is what I plan to do tomorrow night. I still really have no clue how it is going to unfold, and I still have a mad visions of the archvillain escaping by helicopter and the hero grabbing the controls (which is definitely not going to be happening!) but that is perhaps the magic of nano. I hope and pray that the final scene will somehow write itself.

Tonight's writing has been snippets here and there. Part of a scene with the murder victim's flatmate, a rather surly model. A bit more of the camel-back rescue with things starting to get steamy between the heroine and the romantic hero. A bit of early scene setting getting the code name of the arch villain in. And a scene where one of the protagonists confronts one of the villains not knowing his own wife is in flagrante under the villain's desk at the time. 2010 words tonight, the total is now 48547. Excerpt:

Hamid had taken over the running of Al Sweihan Trading when his father died. He had recently expanded beyond wooden dhows into container shipping. The containers were modified to carry hundreds of kilos of heroin within their sides, and had so far been undetected by customs officials. It was a profitable activity, but not one that could last forever. And now American patrol boats were increasingly obstructing his armaments shipments, the Indians were cracking down on gold smuggling, and Hamid had recently remarried.

So this latest business proposition, which promised to be highly lucrative, could not have come at a better time. Neither the motivations of the people behind the deal nor their intentions were of concern to Hamid. Being able to carry out the task they offered was enough. Hamid was meeting that day with the man known only as Al Aqoul, a man who spoke over a dozen languages and had connections in nearly every country in the region. But Al Aqoul's trade was something very different to the solid cargoes of drugs and metal that Hamid ferried about.

"What we do is perhaps best described as enabling fortunate circumstances," Hamid was told. "Our local partners are critical to such ventures. Should you accept this commission, we anticipate that the risk will be moderate but the rewards substantial. We are not an organisation that deals in failure."

Award antics

Only 1,200 words today: jetlag and general knackeredness catching up. Total word cound 45,680 so have cleared the 45k word hurdle. An extract from awards ceremony scene with proxy-friendly *:

As he was scanning the room, he saw a woman in the corner, dancing on the table. By the way she was tossing her hair, he recognised Katie. Shrugging Rosalind off his knee, he headed over to check if Katie was all right – by the looks of things, she had had a skin full to drink, and could do herself some serious damage in those shoes. A crowd was forming around her, as she swung around like a dervish, and even throwing in some erotic moves that would have looked more at home on the dancefloor of a strip club. He reached the table, elbowing away a few drooling men, and tugged on her sleeve. “Get down, you’ll fall and make a fool of yourself.”

She struggled to shrug him off and, almost in slow motion, she lost her footing. Falling remarkably gracefully for someone that should, by rights, have been in an alcoholic stupor by now, she grabbed on to Robbie on the way down. When he failed to hold her steady and started to fall himself, she grabbed the tablecloth. As she fell to the ground, the tablecloth, table, glasses and cutlery all came flying down with a crash, with Robbie falling on top of the pile.

From underneath him, he heard Katie start to laugh slowly, then absolutely hysterically, which led to an inevitable case of the hiccups. He staggered to his feet and started untangling the mess that lay before him. Underneath the debris, Katie lay, flat on her back, miraculously outfit still in one place. “You okay?” he asked. “Yes, though I was just building up to a climax in my routine,” she giggled. Having established that Katie and her clothes were all in one piece, Robbie laid into her. “What has got into you?”

“Sadly, nobody recently. What God hath made, all men are casting asunder,” she mumbled, starting to sulk. “I was just having a laugh.” Before Robbie could lecture her any more, Heath emerged from his vantage point behind a pillar. “I thought she was sensational – whoever knew that woman could shake her ass like that.” He pulled Katie off the floor and into a long snog.

“Terrific, just what she needs, Heath. The poor girl is tired, emotional and p*ssed, and now Baqaa’s biggest male slapper fancies having a crack. For once, can you manage not to take advantage of a girl that won’t be able to stand soon? That’s my best friend, and she’s worth more than you.” “I’m right here, you know,” piped up Katie, losing some of her bravado. “And I can speak for myself. Well, for the next half an hour at least. While I may be drunk, I still have phenomenally good taste in men. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take Heath home and scr*w his brains out. That’s if he’ll have me.”

With that, she tugged Heath by the hand and walked out. Robbie, for once, was speechless, before bursting into laughter. What a woman ….

November 26, 2006

The very final stretches

Tonight 2060 (didn't do any last night, getting slack, but am nearly there thank god) and total 46537.


"Doctor Abnis, I presume?"

Yep - that's it. Any more and it will give the game away!

(It's also about the only coherent thing I wrote out of two thousand words).

November 25, 2006

it's getting harder

I knew the last week was going to be a nightmare - I am on massive work trip so very short on time. I only managed 400 words yesterday when I was in transit for an hour, but have taken advantage of jetlag to write 2k now. So, with five days to go, my total is 44,394. No excerpt today: it was set at an awards ceremony and is too cliched for words.

November 24, 2006

Why Barbara Cartland beats Shakespeare

Well there was me worrying about writing prose and wit more of the level of Enid Blyton than Graham Greene, and what do I find? She's the fifth most translated author ever:


1 Walt Disney Inc US
2 Agatha Christie UK
3 Jules Verne France
4 Vladimir Lenin Russia
5 Enid Blyton UK
6 Barbara Cartland UK
7 William Shakespeare UK
8 Danielle Steel US
9 Hans Christian Andersen Denmark
10 Stephen King US

The Bible comes in thirteenth place. If we discount Walt Disney (given he is not a novelist in the conventional sense, with predominantly retellings of other people's existing stories aimed at children) then that puts my all-time favourite author, Agatha Christie, in top place.

I wonder how many of us will be on that list in fifty years time?


No sleep for 36 hours

Well, after an actual night of no sleep - I now haven't slept for precisely 36 hours but that will be remedied within seconds - I have only managed to do another 2033 words in the past two days, bringing my total up to 44477, short of the 45,000 mark that I had really hoped to crack. What I have spent time on is extensive orgnisation and structural changes, because this being a mystery that relies so exactly on Person A knowing Fact X at a spccific time, and Person B meeting Person C because of Fact Y, that it had become impossible to write the later scenes without sorting out the earlier ones. I massively changed the start of my book, it's still dire, but thanks to snow white the first line is starting to take shape. Excerpt (from much further on, please excuse typos I can barely function right now):

Pat - definitely Pat, she was the more assertive of the two - got up and said she was going to find out what the "commotion" was all about. Before Phoebe could advise her to stay still and wait, a restaurant manager came over and instructed them to stay put. "This is a small dispute," he said. "It will pass soon. Can I get you more fruit cocktail, or some...?"

Gunfire cracked across his words. One of the men had fired into the ceiling. It was posturing, but the fact they had live weapons was enough for Phoebe. She took charge of the tour members on her table. "Everyone get under the table. It's probably nothing but let's not risk it." Oddly, she wasn't scared. Her heart was beating but it was with adrenalin. Any anxiety was only for their fear. Another shot was fired, this time ending in the tinkle of glass. The grimy chandelier was at last being put out of its misery.

There was more shouting, all in Arabic with the hotel manager also shouting Hindi instructions to some of the staff. Eventually the noise subsdied, though not the knife edge atmosphere. Margaret was clutching her handbag to her chest, white and terrified. Pat looked grim, and the Scots and Germans weren't much better. The Japanese girls were clutching one another. Only the Russian looked slightly bored by the whole affair.