Tag Archives: novel

A start-again job

I spent a lot of time yesterday getting this blog ready to roll, a job which involved transferring and editing bits from the blog attached to my freelance copywriter website. Now it’s time to write something new.

That’s less easy than it sounds. If you read through the other posts, you’ll see that they tell the story of how I came across the original manuscript of King’s Ransom and how I revised, updated and then published it. If I were starting this blog from scratch I could have told that story in more detail, and I did think about adding intervening posts explaining various processes that I went through. But I’m not sure that would have been entirely satisfactory, because they would have lacked any of the sense of discovery and excitement that I felt at the time.

In any case, as L P Hartley wrote as the first line of The Go Between “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”. Incidentally, isn’t that the most wonderful opening line? I think it’s up there with “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” and “Call me Ishmael”.

When I wrote the first version of King’s Ransom, the opening line – which is still the first line of the first chapter – was “The more something happens, the more you get used to it. That’s the theory. The theory is bullshit.” And the hero goes on to find out that he’s just been made redundant for the third time in his working life. I thought the opening was quite catchy, but someone who read it told me that an action-adventure story needed a bit more, well, action and adventure in the opening few words. So I wrote a Prologue before the first chapter, which starts “John Deacon handed in his security badge to the guard, smiled his thanks and waited as the electronic door was unlocked.” Catchy, eh? I can tell you are gripped already.

But back to the plot, or at least the plot of this blog. Over the coming weeks I’m going to write more about King’s Ransom (of course), about what I am doing to promote it, and – if I actually manage it – how I am getting on with my next novel. Among the fragments I found in the back-up CDs that I found last year was an outline of a romantic comedy that I originally wrote as a filmscript for a competition back in 1996/97. I didn’t enter it for the competition – someone close to me said they didn’t like my script – and I’d forgotten all about it. But I mentioned it to my wife Kate and she remembered it and said she thought it would make a lovely bittersweet and funny novel. So, I might do that at some point, and if I do I will write about it.

Meantime, I’ll be concentrating on King’s Ransom. In addition to writing about the book and how I am promoting it, I’ll also share the information I found about formatting and uploading to Kindle. A lot of Kindle books I’ve looked at seem to have formatting issues which would be relatively easy to solve with a few simple procedures. But that is for the future . Now, the sun is shining, and my overgrown garden is calling for me to come and tidy it.

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Notes from a distant past

King's Ransom Plot Notes

[Originally published 30 November 2012]

I decided to have a go at writing the novel that ended up as King’s Ransom when I was on holiday about 20 years ago – in fact, staying not far from where I now live. I’d bought a few paperbacks with me, one of which was one of the worst pieces of fiction I have ever read – worse, even, than The Da Vinci Code, which is saying something. Everything about it was dreadful: plot, characterisation, story development, sentence construction – everything. And, being a professional writer, I thought I should be able to do better than that. That was the genesis of King’s Ransom.

I mentioned a few months ago that I have a single copy of the original draft of the novel, one of a number that I printed to give to friends and relations to read. The draft, marked in my friend Barry Franklin’s neat red hand, was in a box file with a lot of other papers, which I was looking through this morning. Among the papers is a notebook in which I jotted down the original plot outline. It’s quite an interesting document, to me at least. One odd thing, which I had forgotten, is that the hero’s original name was Steve Fuller rather than James King. Some of the other character names remain the same, as does the name of an invented country in what was – at the time – newly independent Soviet East Asia.

I’m getting on OK with the revision, in between writing blogs about social media on the one hand and electronic components on the other. At times, being a writer is lots of fun.

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