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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

April 03, 2006

Top tip

Although I never intended to write my novel in a month, NaNoWriMo-style, I did buy the book written by the founder, which is called No Plot, No Problem. I don't know why I did, possibly because I was looking for ways to get over the hump. It's the first time in around 30 years of writing that I even considered buying a self-help book. I personally blame computers, because when I was using a typewriter, you had no option other than to complete a draft and then start again; there was none of this temptation you have with software, to go in and start revisions before you've finished.

Roald Dahl, we learned yesterday, wrote all his books out in longhand, with a yellow pencil and a yellow legal pad. Whatever it takes, I suppose.

The book is in fact full of such useful tips, things that focus you on churning out the first draft, and stop you from worrying about trivia like time-lines, internal consistency, and so on. He calls it keeping your inner-editor on a leash, and it's right, because there's no point worrying if it was Spring or Summer in the beginning bit, and therefore it's wrong to be talking about it being Summer now, because it would be Autumn, wouldn't it?

All that stuff is for the second draft.

One good tip is that when you come to print out that first draft, to read it through and make your notes, etc., you can format the page so it looks more book-like. So you print it landscape mode, with two wide columns, so each page looks like a spread from a book. I've just done that, and it does look great (I used Bembo, which is my favourite classic combination of Roman and Italic - there is no Italic more beautiful), something like a book you've photocopied, if you know what I mean.


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