Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Bitter End

So, day 3 of my impromptu writing workshop.  Still Diamond Jubilee weekend, so I gravitate to Buckingham Palace, and follow a detachment of gorgeous police horses. Once more, there are punters who camped out all night, desperate to reserve a place for the concert this evening.

For me, I'm stalking the final third of my Thomas Tarling novel, and I lap up the atmosphere, which is a bit akin to that of the fairground. The rain has been torrential in the night, the St John Ambulance work through the crowd dispensing first aid and hot drinks. Me, I'm surviving on porridge - I've discovered what the Scots have known for centuries;
  • it's nourishing
  • it's cheap 
  • it's great for those on a diet.
My first task is to list the final scenes by bullet point, and then to mirror the first day's work by jotting twenty 'last lines'.
I can't believe I never thought of this 'twenty first lines, twenty last lines' idea before. In fact, I didn't think it up, I got it from Sarah Domet's book The 90 Day Novel. It's a seriously searching exercise. I'm finding this business of ending the novel so hard. But I suppose everyone does.

Every writer I know has trouble writing - Joseph Heller

You can find Buckingham Palace here

Souvenir sellers flock to Buckingham Palace

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Jubilee Dawn

Today I got down to the Tower of London at dawn, to work on deepening the 'middle' episodes, the heart and backbone of my novel. Already at that hour preparations were in hand for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, with police officers on duty at the Tower of London and the first sight-seers surveying the scene.

It takes dedication to 'get down to it' that early, but of course, it's what the experienced royal-watchers do, on every occasion - be there, with your mac, your flask of tea and your flags. So my goal today was to work on the dramatic - the backstabbing, the weeping, the scintillating dialogue - well, that's how every writer hopes their work will turn out!

As the first of the crowds settled themselves, and bear in mind this was 6.30 hrs, for a Pageant due to being at 14.00 hrs, I sat on a wall with my coffee and asked myself a series of questions: 1) Have I added complications for poor Thomas? 2) Is he changing? Is he affected by the events that have landed in his lap? 3) Did I deepen the drama? 4) What will the climax of the whole novel be, when I get there?

After a couple of hours, I looked up, and noticed that the crowds were swelling and swelling, an estimated 1 million at least and in the pouring rain too. Only in Britain - and that's the spirit Thomas Tarling must show, too.

I packed my flask and notebook away, ready for a proper breakfast.

You can find The Tower of London here:

The Tower of London