Posts Tagged ‘Dirtbirds’

Author Diary – Part 4

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

How does writing fiction differ to writing an autobiography? The differences can be enormous depending on the project at hand—a crime thriller can’t, for example, follow the exact same planning process as an autobiography.

In my case, my new book Dirtbirds will share many themes and a similar writing style to my comedy memoir Lord of the Rams. However, one of the key differences in the writing process this time round revolves around the planning and structuring.

Because a memoir is—or at least should be—primarily based on fact, the author already knows his characters. Their hair colour, their personalities, their phrases—the author generally doesn’t have to think twice about these things.

With fiction, things are slightly different. The characters are derived from the author’s imagination, so unless he outlines their traits from the outset, it can be easy to lose track of things and make mistakes. For example, a book’s characters should have phrases associated with them only, as would be the case in real life.

If you’re writing a book with authentic Irish accents/phrases, it makes sense that one of your characters might say, for example, “No bother” on occasion. Common sense dictates that only one of your characters would speak like this, but it’s easy to unwittingly create characters who mirror each other’s language—the everyday language of the author even. Imagine watching an episode of Home & Away where everybody called each other “flamin’ galahs” a la Alf Stewart! Dialogue is something that needs to be checked and checked again to ensure that your characters are speaking in a realistic fashion. Autobiographies need to follow the same rule but fiction, which generally features more dialogue, is especially susceptible to this problem.

Timelines also need extra attention when you’re writing fiction. Whilst timelines are important in an autobiography, they can be verified and checked via research, photographs, etc. (although a surprising amount of autobiographies contain timeline errors that should have been picked up at the editorial stage). With fiction, the author creates the timeline and then must take steps to ensure that it is consistent throughout the novel. For example, if your novel is set in the present and your main character is 30, the timeline you create needs to be consistent with everything this character would have experienced during his 30 years—music listened to, world events experienced, etc. Again, it sounds like common sense, but it can be easy to include errors/inconsistencies in your writing if you don’t do some planning from the outset.

Dirtbirds is—I think—is beginning to take shape. I’ve just reviewed and edited the first five chapters and have another chapter waiting to be typed up. The chapters, thus far, are very short. But that’s the way I like them. I should surpass 10,000 words before Christmas and then I’ll take a nice break! 2011 will be a pivotal year in the writing of the book.

Progess Report

Word Count: 7,029 (typed)

Chapters Complete (1st Draft): 5 (typed)

Are you writing a book? Share some of your experiences via the comments box below.

Purchase my comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging). Now only €10!

Author Diary – Part 3

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

A hint of what's to come perhaps?

It has been six months since my last author diary. Why the delay? Well unfortunately I didn’t manage to get ANY writing done for more than five of those six months, mainly due to the time-consuming task that is purchasing an apartment—banks, solicitors, buying furniture, etc.

Anyway, I’m back writing. And I’m glad to report that the break has—like on previous occasions—left me refreshed and feeling a little creative. Now you may have noticed the omission of Lord of the Rams 2 from the title of this author diary post. And there is a reason for that. The book is officially on hold. As I hinted on Facebook/Twitter in late September, I’m working on a new book.

Provisionally titled Dirtbirds (title likely to change), the book will be my first foray into fiction. It’s early days, but at the moment the writing is going quite well (cue big self-jinx that will probably halt my progress for months). I’m still working on the outline for the novel and nailing down ideas, but I’ve managed to complete a draft of the first three chapters.

It’s too early to talk much about the subject matter, but I can tell you that Dirtbirds will be similar to Lord of the Rams in many ways. Expect short, snappy chapters; dollops of humour (it is a comedy drama); sharp, realistic dialogue and memorable characters. But the novel will also tackle adult subjects—like sex and relationships—in a way that may surprise or even shock readers. Expect Dirtbirds to be lewd, crude and very rude. And definitely not for children or those of a delicate disposition.

This doesn’t mean that I am abandoning Lord of the Rams 2—not at all. My plan is to concentrate on one book at a time and switch between projects if I hit a creative wall on one of them. For the moment, Lord of the Rams 2, which is about 1/3 complete, is parked. I still haven’t finalised the direction for some parts of the book, and the break should allow me to return to the project with new ideas at some stage down the road.

Right now I’m genuinely excited about Dirtbirds. As I mentioned, the book will not be a million miles from Lord of the Rams in some respects. But it will feature fictional characters that will be based firmly in reality. The action takes place in Dublin and one of the core themes—friendships—will be developed further than in my earlier work.

Expect more details in the coming months.

Progess Report

Word Count: 3,537 (typed)

Chapters Complete (1st Draft): 3 (typed)

Are you writing a book? Share some of your experiences via the comments box below.

Purchase my comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).


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