Thursday night already

I understand that to keep a blog live, I should be aiming for a minimum of 3 times a week. Sounds a bit like s*x – forgive me, it’s all these programmes on the radio.  And radio 4 too!  Quite unsettling to have the territory of the Archers and the shipping forecast invaded by discussions the like of which I can’t specify here in case of unwelcome web attention.

Anyhow, to matters literary.  I’m starting to get in gear for the residency in October.  I don’t want to arrive for this precious time without a scooby about what I’m going to do. (BTW ‘scooby’ as in ‘haven’t a…’ is now in the dictionary I believe).  Accordingly, I have re-read parts of the opus and a kind and conscientious writer friend is casting an eye over it.  It’s too early for detailed editing – far too much still to write, but I want a view on whether it’s got legs and also some feedback on my suspicion that it’s too dense and needs unpacking.  A bit like me and my spare room.

The other piece of preparation I’ve begun is to follow the advice from Mslexia’s course in novel writing.  The issue focussing on plot suggests analysing the plot of a novel you love and then rewriting it from a subsidiary character’s point of view.  To this end I have just re-read John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-nine Steps’.  I read it a couple of times years ago.  It was one of my ‘flu’ books – when you’re too knackered to concentrate but can just about turn the pages of a familiar tale.   Returning to it now, it seems thinner than I remember – more a simple chase than a ‘quest’.  To be fair, Buchan apparently wrote it because he ran out of adventure stories to read when he was ill. 

I still love the bits where the baddies blend so completely into their surroundings that they need no disguise.  Only when a tiny clue throws the switch in the hero’s brain does he see them for who they are.  Of one of them, he writes that his features , ‘seemed to dislimn, and form again’ before his eyes.  ‘Dislimn’ – now there’s a fabulous word!

Footnote: Mslexia’s ‘Writer’s Kit’ pages are worth a look!

1 Response to “Thursday night already”


  1. 1 chris September 22, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Not long ago, I “did” 39 Steps with a very poor S3 class. I read aloud – a chapter tended to fit nicely into a period – and they followed with the text – or put their heads on the desk and listened, like small children. We talked about it too – but not so much as to lose the plot! Anyway, on the day I reached the end, one of the most notorious villains int the class sighed and said, with deep conviction: “Miss, that was the best book I’ve ever read!”
    I was quite touched, really.


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