Tuesday, 1 November 2011

On the importance of thinking before you blog

Very short post here, as I'm in a great book writing mood and don't want to disturb it too much. But just an important point to make here...

I'm a fool.


P.S. After finishing my rewritten prologue and going on to look at old draft version of the next chapter, I realised it's actually pretty awesome... So I'm not rewriting my book any more... Well, I will be rewriting some chapters, and revising them all... I feel a little silly for dedicating two blog posts to the rewrite now... I overuse ellipsis...

P.S.S. 1000 words today, not including some copy and pasting. Just gotta do another 600 and I'll have reached my target for the day for Novel Writing month. Hurray!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

"I've got a bad feeling about this"

Going a bit blog crazy at the moment! Not sure how that happened, but I'll make this one short, I promise!

I've decided to try do the write a novel month thing, which is next month (November) with the plan being to write 50000 words, which is about as far as I got in my last draft. It'll probably epically fail, especially with uni work going on and the sheer amount of self-editing I do whilst writing, but I'll be posting updates on how it's going on the blog. 

Wish me luck! I think there is some way to sponser me to raise money for charity or something, but I'm really not sure. Here's the link to my page: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/thable


On the specifics of my terrible writing

So maybe that title is a little overkill, but following on from the last post, I thought I would make clear the changes I'm making to my writing style. Usually I try and mix my blogs in with general advice to other aspiring authors, but things may be a little more specific to me this time. Of course if you fall prey to the same things I do/did, you are a FOOL and should be punished... I mean you can take this advice and change your own writing too. Bla.

I'm going to choose two examples of bits from my old draft, one good and one bad.

Here is the good one:

“Thing's change,” he muttered to himself quietly. And he knew he was speaking of more than his relationship with Eradeen. With every year of his life he looked back, he saw a different man, sometimes strong, other times desperately weak. Almost a year to the day his heart had been left to die by the woman he loved, and yet only two years before he had chosen her, sweet but serious Demm, to be the one he would love for the rest of his life.

A pale tear drop fell to the bottom of the page, seeping through the paper like a sea against sand. Dearon rested his head in his hands, breathing heavily as his eyes glazed over. A second tear fell, then a third, and before he could control himself he had ripped the unfinished letter in two. The torn halves rested gently on the table, unmoving in the shallow breeze.

Yeah I know I've used this example before in the blog, and no it's not the only bit of my old draft I like, but its the most poignant example I can think of. Last post I was talking about taking out some of the 'pretty' from my writing. I didn't mean bits like this. There are a few changes I would make here though; the word "shallow" is a bit pointless, maybe the "his heart was left to die" is a bit OTT, and the way some of the sentences are laid out is a bit questionable, but really these are tiny things that would get picked up in revision anyway. It's simple, to the point, and that is what makes it elegant. No where in that last paragraph have I explicitly stated Dearon's feelings, it's all actions that give you an impression of what's going on.

Now for me to be mean to myself. I love to do that. That's why I threw up in my room after drinking too much the other night so that now I have to sit in a room that smells like... anyway, enough of that. Don't drink kids, or if you're going to, don't drink like 5 different types of drink in one night. Stick to Carlsberg...

This is the bad extract, which I think I may have actually used as an example of good revision in an earlier blog, which is a little embarrassing... Oops. It's from the very start of the book. *shudder*

“Wake up Favoir”

Half-formed memories lost their focus. He tried to remember, but couldn't. He squinted. The room was dark, lit only by candles trailing smoke into his lungs, but his eyes saw a tapestry of colours, shielding the features of a new interrogator. A lead weight in his temple pulled his head downwards. The man moved closer.

*throws up again*

Seriously, I hate that now.

Like, really really hate.

You don't see why? Let me show you.



"He squinted." Okay enough CAPS. This was just me deliberatly putting in a short sentance to add tension. But if you're going to do that, make the short sentance something important like "the door opened" or "he screamed" not "he f***ing squinted!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111"

"The room was dark, lit only by candles trailing smoke into his lungs, but his eyes saw a tapestry of colours, shielding the features of a new interrogator." Okay this bit isn't so bad. If you can find a flaw, let me know, I wanna rip into it so bad...

 "A lead weight in his temple pulled his head downwards." = Ian thinking "I want a metaphor!" Classic example of me trying too hard, and even if it isn't a pain for the reader, it makes me shudder

"The man moved closer." Fine this bit is okay as well. Better that the bloody squinting thing...

So I think it's pretty safe to say i won't be copying that bit into the new draft. In fact I'm re-writing the prologue without a single bit of the original in it. I tried a re-write which had some bits from the original in it, and it didn't work out so well. This new one rocks so far. It's simple in a good way, like that first extract. It gets the point across, and lets the plot, characters and dialogue work their magic. I hope. I really do hope.

BUY MY BOOK when it's published.


P.S. Very very sorry for all the caps

P.S.S. Before I go I wanna mention this blog I found. It's by a literary agent (google the term if it confuses you) and its a great insight into the world of writing and publishing, with a ton of great content. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The inevitable "1 month later" blog post

Oh hello there blog! Almost forgot about you. Well, no I didn't I just was far too busy being a lazy student to write anything on here. Plus I had a break from my book, so was running short on things to type. But I'm back now. And back for good. Until I get lazy again. So probably after this blog post. I'm getting kinda tired now though. Although it is 2.44am...

Anyway, the point! Big, scary news here...

I'm rewriting my book!

"What? But you were really happy with your draft as it was Ian, why oh why oh why would you do such a thing??? WHY DAMMIT WHY???" Wow, chill out man. You need some medication or something.

Well, I was really really happy with the way the draft was going, to the extent that I could have quite easily carried on with it, and after revisions and stuff got it to a standard where I would be happy sending it to a publisher. But that would have been the easy way out. And it will end up a better book because of this rewrite, the reason for which I shall explain some time around...


So basically there are three main reasons I decided to do this.

1. The world has changed.

When I say world, I mean my book world. If you have been reading my previous blog posts, you should know I've been doing quite a bit of world building recently. I've been making up religions, date/time systems, and all other random things to make everything feel a little more alive. As well as that, because of the section of the book I was writing before i stopped, I got thinking about the technology level of the world a bit more.

Here's a mini spoiler for you folks...

There is a nation in my book called Sion, and Sion for reasons not revealed right away is very advanced in terms of technology. They are also incredibly secretive. They impose a sort of North-Korea-esk policy on people going in and out, but even stricter. There language is coded, and changes all the time. They're paranoid basically. The reason for this is that there income as a nation is provided by the slow relinquishing of technology to the outside world. So this got me thinking...

Why don't I make some of their technology really advanced for a fantasy setting. How about some more of this advanced technology being relinquished to the rest of the world than I had originally envisioned. How cool would it be to have a fantasy book with swords and shields and... electricity! Because the rest of the world basically doesn't know how to invent things because they just rely on Sion, how about they have this amazing resource  but have only been granted basic inventions like light bulbs and stuff. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So rather than it being a fantasy world that fits quite comfortably into a real world era, I'm shaking things up a bit. I'm making it a bit more all over the place, and a bit more unique. All the while I will also be focusing more on things like the religious aspect of things, and general cultural differences. These are some pretty big changes, but I'd say they're not enough to warrant a complete rewrite. I could fix these in revisions, but...

2. I want a change of writing style.

More specifically, I want a simpler writing style. Some people can make words by themselves sound amazing. It doesn't matter about context always, they can write about boring things and make them sound super. But I can't. Well, sometimes I can a little. But only if I really try hard. And am lucky.

The problem with this is that I kept trying hard, and it created inconsistencies. Some bits I would have got lucky and they would sound great, other times it felt a little... forced. If writing style had a graph, I would have a line going all over the place. Sometimes high up, sometimes low down.

I haven't started reading it properly yet, but I had a glance at A Game of Thrones recently. I loved the TV series. But I was really surprised when I read the first page or two of the book with how simple the writing was. There were no fancy metaphors, alliteration, or any other things that people say make writing "pretty". It was straight to the point, and most importantly, it "flowed". Now I don't know about you, but I would trade off those occasional amazing sentences to get a book that flowed with the writing style. So now I'm writing in a way I know 100% I can do, that isn't jarring and lets the plot speak for itself. It's still got elements of "pretty" in it, but they're never forced, not if I can help it.

So now the argument is getting a bit more compelling, but you keen people surely remember me saying there were three reasons a while back. So here we go...

3. I've started stepping on my own toes

I actually can't think of an example of this specifically, but its just a general feeling I've been getting recently. I kinda feel like now everything is a bit more developed, and the plot is moving in ever so slightly different ways to it was going to move before, I'm sort of trying to fit in things from before I don't want to fit in just to make everything work well. It's sort of like *tries to think of analogy* drawing a circle. Oh yeah this is a good one.

You start at a random point on a piece of paper, and draw a circle. But you stray a little to one side. The pencil slips a little bit. You can't just force the line back into where you intended it to be now, or the circle would have a little jutting bit in it. You have to keep going with what you've got. What you end up with is a circle, but not the one you were planning at the start. It started and finished in the same place, but the rest of it is a little out. This time I'm going slow, thinking ahead, and making sure my circle is perfect.

I'll be honest, there are a bunch more reasons I can think of. But those are the main ones.

And if I'm going to do a rewrite, best do it now whilst i don't have the pressure of finding a publisher or getting the damn thing actually finished.

But most importantly, and the secret super hidden fourth reason I want to rewrite my book is that I want it to be super amazing. Not just super. Not just amazing. Super Amazing.

That is all.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Metaphorical Page Ripping is Fun

This won't be a long blog post, as I'm taking a short break from my book at the moment, after working on it basically every day this holiday, and writing about 100 pages. (yay!).

I should be back writing in a few days, once I've moved into my university house and have found the perfect writing spot. At the moment I'm hovering about in the conservatory of my house whenever I feel like putting pen to paper to keys to netbook without the pen and paper part. Although it is quite annoying when it rains. Fortunately the chapter I'm writing now takes place on a very rainy day, so really it's all atmospheric.

Where was I?

Ah yes! Given that my last two posts were on revision, I wanted to stir things up. Be crazy for once. Radical man. So today I'm going to talk about the joy of ripping up entire chapters.

Well not ripping, unless you have a very thin laptop and super strength. Or write by hand. Crazy person.

But sometimes revision can't help. "Can't help? What do you mean? Stop destroying my belief system!" Sorry Mr. Voice, but it's true. Occasionally you will write something so terrible, so disgusting, so filled with bad language and terrible pacing that you just have to get rid. These times are obvious. When you are writing in a rush you tend to write bad, or I do at least. If you super speed write because a chapter is exciting, or you just want to get through it, it shows. Think of writing a book like doing a painting. And not a two blobs on a page modern art type thing, no no no! A proper painting. (Me + lazy art = urgh). Someone might glance at it and go 'ooo, that looks nice' and then look away again. But that doesn't mean you should rush by the details. It wouldn't have come together as a beautiful work if those details weren't there, even if not everyone really notices them.

Damn metaphors, getting me all distracted.

So as I say, it's pretty obvious when something just doesn't read well at all and you know you would be better just to start again. What isn't so easy is those times when you write something, and it is good, but it isn't right.

Yeah, we're going deep here. Right to the bottom of the ocean and then some more.

I started a new chapter a week and a bit ago, before I decided to have a break. I think I did about 5 pages, and whilst it was clearly not polished (none of my first drafts ever are) it could easily have been shaped into something good. In fact there were a few lines in there that I was like 'ooo, I wrote that? Nice!' And I'd even go so far to say that if I had carried it on, it would have worked. But it just didn't feel quite right.

The chapter before was all serious. It was two important people talking about important things. One specific important thing actually, and I think enough was said about it for the reader to get that this is an important thing. Thing. So then I sit down to write my next chapter, and guess what! It's those two important people, with the main character added as well, talking about this important thing. Now the real drama of this chapter would be something that happens at the end of their talk, but to get there you need to trudge through all the regurgitated information from the previous chapter. It not only felt boring, but it felt like I was going to the reader "Oi! You! Reader! This is important! Remember that thing from the last chapter! Yeah! It's really important  Don't forget that! Don't forget that it's important! Did you forget? Well I better tell you again then!"

So I just skipped to the drama. I know, crazy aren't I. But it felt so much better when I did. It was to the point, it started the chapter in a cool way, and it will save a few pages on a book that is turning out to be a lot bigger than I had thought. (1000 pages is starting to seem more plausible than 600...).

I think sometimes I worry too much about chapter structure. I always feel like I need to have a sort of exposition at the start, something to gently lead the reader into the chapter. I suppose this was important in the earlier chapters. The reader was meeting this characters for the first time, and they needed to be shown during some of the down time so that they seem human, rather than someone who is only there when plot related stuff is going on. But now I'm not really at the start any more. I'm 150 in. If I was a reader, I would be invested here. I would have up until now been reading what is an unusually long beginning to a book, and I'm ready for something a little more chewy.

If something you're writing has potential, keep writing it. If it feels right in the story, and you don't think you could do it any better, keep writing it. But don't be afraid just to rip up some pages, albeit metaphorically if you're me. It's sort of like in relationships. Writing a novel to me is a bit like finding 'the one'. There's no point staying on something this isn't right just so it's there. If you are committed to finding that person/book/person book hybrid, then don't accept any less. You might even find something better than you thought that surprises you!

Luckily for me my first book idea turned out to be 'the one', and my first girlfriend did too. : )


Although I did kiss my neighbour when I was in primary school.


And I did have that book idea about the magic orb that kills people when they touch it.


We don't talk about those things.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Revision is Fun!

And no, I'm not on about the revising for exams type of revision. That sucks. Always. What I want to talk about is the importance (and if you are a bit sad like me, the fun) of revising your writing!

Obviously being able to write something decent straight off is important. After all, you couldn't build a house on bad foundations. But that's what you should think of your initial writing as; the foundations of the finished product. Or if you don't like that metaphor, how about the seed from which the tree grows from, the egg that turns into a chicken, the base of a cheesecake, maybe a strawberry one, or raspberry. Maybe with some white chocolate as well. And sprinkles. Mmm...

If you're good enough at writing that your cheesecake base also includes some of the lovely cheesecake filling stuff, then that's awesome. That should save you some time, and the more you write the better you will get at the first pass. I know for me that I've had to go over my most recent chapters a hell of a lot less than my first few chapters, because I've gotten better at knowing what sounds good straight off. Practise makes perfect after all  Well... not quite perfect, as I still have to go over these chapters a bit. But like it better that way anyway. Ok what was my point?

Ah yes, revision. Looking back at what you've written lets you see what you've done in a new light. It lets you read at the speed of a reader rather than a writer, and basically just lets you polish what you've done. For me, revision probably takes up almost half of the time I spend writing. It might have been more than half a bit ago as well. It's something that you shouldn't be afraid of, and you shouldn't seek perfection on your first pass, just a solid basing of that cheesecake with raspberry and white chocolate and stuff... mmm...

So rather than continuing this rant about how important revision is, I thought I would show you some examples. Time to go looking back at the backup folders of ye old times.

I'll start with my prologue. Here is how my book starts in an old draft:

“You will tell us who you are, and what you are doing here, or you will die. It is that simple.”

Favoir’s mind raced, endlessly searching though the vast amount of information coursing through his brain. His head still ached from the blow that had left him unconscious for what he assumed must have been hours. The colours of the room danced in front of his eyes, denying him a clear view of his surroundings.

He knew in his heart that nothing he said would appease his captors, but he would not be the fool who would remain silent until his death.

“I’ve told you, I’m nothing more than a messenger. I… I shouldn’t even be here, my place is in Asfulen,” he stuttered in desperation. “I must see their King.”

And here is the new version:

“You're going to die here little man, if you don't stop that tongue from ranting.”

Favoir’s mind raced, scavenging though each half-formed memory of the past week. He squinted, trying to discern the features of his new interrogator, but the colours of the room span too heavily before his eyes, denying him a clear view of his surroundings. His head felt like lead, swaying uncertainly above his neck, and his temple still burned from the blow that had left him unconscious for hours.

“I ask you only to tell me the truth, nothing more. It is that simple.”

“I’ve told you, I’m nothing more than a messenger. I… I shouldn’t even be here. We were heading to Asfulen, I swear,” he pleaded. His voice shook with every syllable.

Hopefully you agree that the second version is better. There are no massive changes, but I'll point out a few. The first line is different.

“You will tell us who you are, and what you are doing here, or you will die. It is that simple.” 


“You're going to die here little man, if you don't stop that tongue from ranting.”


The first line before was ok, but a little cheesy. The thing that bothered me about it was that it doesn't sound like the sort of thing you would say to someone you been interrogating for days. It's too much of a 'letting the reader know something' sentence, and not very natural. The new line basically says the same thing, but shows a bit of the interrogators personality, as well as the fact that Favoir has been pleading for his life. And it isn't cheesy. I hope.

Another difference you will see is the removal of the paragraph all about Favoir not wanting to stay silent to his death. I don't feel like the paragraph doesn't work, but I think at this early point in the chapter, I wanted to keep the tension as high as possible. I want Favoir to seem disorientated, and panicked. Showing what's going on inside of his head kinda removes that, especially when it shows him thinking quite logically. And later on the in chapter there is a line from Favoir that reads 'Do I look like the sort of man who doesn't buckle under torture?' Sort of a similar statement, but more dramatic, so no need to state the point again.

I actually ended up revising that extract just before I copied it over here as well! I can't help myself! The last 2 sentences used to be one long sentance, but short sentences work better for dramatic parts.

Let's find another example. Here is the start of Chapter One from an early draft:

The busy city air filled her lungs as she discreetly lifted herself up from the sewer grate. Instantly she forgot the sickening stench from below, basking in the new array of gentler smells that greeted her. The stale city air, intermingled with the smell of wet rock and factory fumes that floated above the city in a constant dull cloud felt like silk compared to below. Beneath these smells was the smallest hint of bodily odour that stemmed from the nearby markets where desperate merchants were baking in the rare sunlight, and a gentle hint of some spice or other flavouring was seeping through the side street from a nearby house.

Finally there was the usual but almost unnoticeable hint of sea-salt, a smell Elysie found bizarre in that the city was hundreds of miles from any coastline. Even more bizarre was that none of her few acquaintances noticed this aroma themselves. Recently she had come to the conclusion that an old job as a salt drainer a few years before she arrived in Dolindium must have permanently damaged her senses. Like most of her prior work, she did not miss it.

It seemed a shame that this interesting balance of smells was now ruined by the foul odour rising from her. Desperate to be free of the sewer stench, she flexed her legs and suddenly set off on a wild sprint out into the open streets.

And here is the new version, with almost every sentence changed.

Without so much as a groan, Elsie pulled herself up from the sewer grate. She quickly scanned the side street she had emerged into, checking to make sure no one had seen her most likely illegal appearance, and found herself relieved when it was empty all but to herself. Standing to her full height, she moved the grate back to its original position, before pulling out a flask of water from her bag and washing her hands. Then, with an extravagant raise of her nose, she took in a large breath of the busy city air. Cement, factory fumes, and even the smallest hint of bodily odour from the nearby markets greeted her, each a welcome change from the rancid sewers below. She had ventured below hundreds of times before, found herself scrunching up her nose so often it was becoming more than just a habit, and yet each time she allowed herself an intake of breath she was sure the smell had worsened. It was as if she had developed some sort of counter-immunity to it, or that the sewer had decided she had abused it too long and was evicting her with an ever increasing stench.

She tried to ignore the almost unnoticeable hint of sea-salt that mingled with the other odours as she checked her clothing for stains. It had plagued her mind in her first few months living in the city, leaving her in long sessions of intense thought to try decipher its origin. It was a city hundreds of miles from the coast, and to her annoyance she seemed to be the only one who had noticed this out-of-place aroma. But when the answer had finally come to her, it had left her more angry than content. That damn salt factory; it had been perhaps the worse, or at the very least the most monotonous of her many jobs, and whilst she had thought its only parting gift had been a bitter taste in her mouth, it was now apparent that the resentment had spread to her nose as well. Like most of her prior work, she did not miss it.

Nor would she miss climbing out of sewer grates, once the sun had set on her current career path, as it always did. Desperate to be free of the smell, she flexed her legs, tensing her young muscles, and set off on a wild sprint out into the streets.

Now I'm not sure everyone will completely agree with me on this one. The first extract is quite a bit shorter, and says almost the exact same things. Normally I would think this best. Saying things in as few words as possible is often an effective way of writing. But something feels off about that first extract to me... It feels... hollow. 

"But Ian, why?" Ah, I am glad you asked Mr. Voice. Well first the writing is a bit annoying in the first version. Saying 'suddenly set off' rather than just 'set off' is a bit silly here. She hasn't suddenly set off. She's been stood thinking to herself! I use words like 'suddenly' a bit too much sometimes, and am trying to cut down. I'm a sick man I know.

But I think the real problem with the first extract, and one you won't understand unless you know the character of Elsie (whose name used to be spelt Elysie in the old draft as well. What's that about???). The first extract doesn't feel like her. It feels like it's trying to be her, but really it's just a pale imitation. I wrote that extract when I was first writing for her, and perhaps I didn't know her well enough. The second extract is longer, but it shows her personality through the language. Adding in "That damn salt factory" really shows her disdain for the place, rather than only stating that she would not miss it.

I was going to do a third example, but this is quite a long blog post already. I might do another one of these at some point though.

I hope you've enjoyed the post, and the blog in general. If you are one of those people secretly reading without letting me know, please leave and comment! I'd love to hear everyone's opinion!

Now to watch a film, each popcorn, and dream about cheesecake. 


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Why Talking to Yourself is Sometimes Ok

So I'll be honest. I talk to myself. A lot. Too much really. Like, sometimes two way conversations. Sometimes three ways. Wait that sounds wrong.

But yeah, I do it quite a bit. Usually it is when I look at myself in the mirror. I'll say something like "Hey sexy, how you-" No wait no! I never do that. It's probably more something like "You know, you're really awesom-" WAIT! No. Not that. Never that.

I think the worse thing I've ever done in terms of talking to myself was when I'd just finished listening to a podcast where one of my favourite authors (Patrick Rothfuss, in case you haven't realised by the like 1000 mentions of him so far on this blog). The interviewer asked all sorts of interesting questions, and I started to wonder how I would respond to those questions. Eventually I started to wonder out loud. Obviously I needed some questions specific to my book, so I also decided to take upon myself the role of the interviewer as well as the interviewee.

Fortunately, no one was home. And I think I learnt quite a bit about how good/bad/mostly bad I am at answering questions about my book. So I wouldn't say I regret the experience. What I do regret is telling everyone about it in this blog. I could always use the backspace key, but that just seems a little counter-productive to me. Instead, I will try a braver tactic. I will try and convince you that talking to yourself is (sometimes!) ok.

"Surely that isn't possible oh supreme Overlord Ian?!" Well, perhaps you are right Mr. Voice. Perhaps I have simply had too much tequila (my parents bought me some when they were in Mexico!) and it's made me go even more loopy. But I don't think that is the case.

So this is the part where I do that annoying thing. It's that annoying thing where I pretend to know lots and lots about writing even though I am still very much leaning. But bare with it if you will.

Revision in a book is key. Some people assume writers just write down their books, from beginning to end, and that's that. But they are wrong. I'm sure there are a few writers out there who are practised enough that they need go over their writing only the one time to be sure it's good. But for those of us still learning, or who just can't do instantly perfect writing like those lucky few, revision is something that should be considered as important as the initial writing itself. This will probably be the first of a few blog posts on the importance of this, and believe me the next few are going to be AMAZING! They might even have examples of my own writing and everything! Wowza!

But today I'm going to focus on a really simple piece of advice for those looking back at their own work and trying to make it better. You've probably guessed it by now, but if not, here goes. Are you ready? It's coming! Oh yeah it is baby! OOO!

Read out loud.

"Read out loud oh God of Everything Ian? Really? Surely that is what little children do! I have been taught/brainwashed that reading out loud is silly and primitive. My amazing adult brain can read without the use of vocal chords now!" Well get unbrainwashed then Mr. Voice. Reading out loud is an amazing way of seeing how good your writing is.

When people read in there head, they have a natural tendency to sometimes skim past some words. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has read a book where the characters have odd names, only to find that when I try and say these names out loud I have no idea what to say! Another thing people sometimes do when reading out loud is switch off. Sometimes, if you are a bit tired of have other things on your mind, your eyes will keep moving, but your brain will be off doing something else. Knitting maybe. I bet all of us have at some point found ourselves suddenly realising we have no idea what just happened in the last 2 pages.

When you are writing a book, and have read the same chapters over and over and over again, this can happen quite often. That isn't to say your writing isn't bad, it's just because the tension of not knowing what is going to happen has been removed. Watching a film for the first time is (usually!) the best time. The second time is interesting too, as you pick up on extra things you didn't see before, or if you didn't 'get' the film the first time you might understand it better. The third time could be similar. Same with the fourth, but obviously reduced. This reduction keeps on going. I have watched Lord of the Rings a lot of times. Whilst I still they're great movies now, I don't really find myself caring about watching them again. In fact, when I lost my dvd's of the trilogy (extended version of course) I didn't even bother buying a new set. Now it's been 2 or more years since I have seen those films. Still not that bothered either.

Where was I? "Reading out loud!" Ah yes, I remember. So reading out loud removes these issues. You can't really think about other things whilst you read out loud. It makes you more focused, and whilst it is slower, this can be a good thing for revising. It makes you concentrate on every word, and words that don't quite work stand out so much more than when you read in your head. You can hear the flow of each sentence clearly, the rise and fall of your voice as you read, and if you find yourself stuttering over a few words, or a sentence ends long before you expected, then it is probably best to change it. I wish I could show you some examples in my own work, but I can't really remember what specific changes were because of me reading out loud and which were just me reading in my head. Suffice to say, I've read sections in my head and thought them amazing, then read them out loud and realised the work that needs doing.

I did something I've never done before the other day. I read all of my book I've written so far in one go. That's about 150 pages, so not loooads, but a fair bit. It seemed longer because I read it all out loud as well. From a health and safety point of view, I wouldn't recommend this. By the end of it I was forcing honey down my throat to make it stop hurting. I hate to think what might happen if I try read my book when it is finished, and a 600+ page monster! I'll have to eat a bee's nest. But from a writers point of view, I think it is a great thing to do. It helped me rectify a few continuity issues I didn't realise were there, as well as let me see the things I repeat too much in my writing. And the fact that it was out loud meant I got to add a level of polish to my book that hadn't been there before. Didn't feel I had to make any major changes though, which is always good news :)

So I leave you with that. Not some amazing new revelation really, just some solid advice. If you are the sort of person who isn't very comfortably reading aloud, just do it when no one is in, or when you are in your room, and if it helps, try imagine you are recording the audiobook or something. If your imagination is good enough you should start to forget that it's your voice coming out of your mouth, and just start listening.

Thanks for reading. I've been Ian Fisher, God of Gods, Keeper of all Knowledge, King of the Universe and the Multiverse, and Loser of The Game,