Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Writing novels

I had to comment because English Dave wrote this here and Charlie Williams commented here...

Novels I can do. Not published I admit but my third almost got me an agent, and my fourth was just easy-peasy. So I thought I'd do something harder, like write scripts.

But it was English Dave's Parthian shot that got me.

Parthian shot? Well, that's where "parting shot" came from. Okay there's actually (apparently) no proof but if you read the complete Sherlock Holmes you'll find Conan Doyle uses it in exactly the same context. I shall never use "parting shot" again, and have to explain myself every time.

So what was his Parthian shot?

I'm dusting off a few old movie scripts and digging out a thesaurus.
It was the thesaurus comment that put me in mind of an anecdote: I have been a professional book editor in my time, unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of editing anything that was any good.

There was one book where the storyline actually had potential, but the person who wrote it was not very literate -- not illiterate, he just didn't have a wide vocabulary. And occasionally, through the text I'd come across words that did not fit. Just completely the wrong word, except the meaning would be vaguely similar.

It finally dawned on me. The Microsoft Word Thesaurus. God 'elp us.

Yes indeed. From time to time he would realise that there was probably a better word and he would highlight the offending one and right-click his lil ole mouse. Then select the cleverest-sounding word in the thesaurus selection. Without having a clue what it actually meant.

It was sad.

In fact if he could have learnt to write a bit better his lack of vocabulary would not really have mattered that much.

I know English Dave isn't going to do this.

In fact it is possible to make money writing novels, I know a chap who really has given up the day job: Roger Ellory. I'm happy to say he is a good friend. And he writes literary crime fiction, and it's bloody good stuff.

What's on the turntable? Nothing, but I was pining for Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield today.

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