Sunday, 18 November 2012

How to Write Good

Having proof read my last novel several times over, I gave the thumbs up for it to be converted into an e-book.  The lovely Rebecca Emin is absolutely ace at formatting for the likes of Amazon (  Certainly a techie pleb like me relies heavily on a clever clog like Rebecca.  However, before Rebecca sorted out the paperback version, I decided to run through Lipstick and Lies one more time.  Seeing your work in a different format can reveal previously unnoticed errors.  I downloaded my novel and began to read.

Along came the first howler.  My character Cass, mother to a six month baby boy called Eddie, was doing all sorts of wonderful motherly things...but not to Eddie.  Instead she was lugging Ethan around on her hip.  This wouldn’t be quite so catastrophic if Ethan didn’t happen to be forty years old and the boss of Cass’s husband.

I went screeching over to my computer and whizzed off an email to Rebecca.  Minutes later, the MS had been amended and re-uploaded.  My heartbeat quietened.  Confident that all was now well, I continued reading.  But...wait.  What was that?  The character Jamie had just exchanged a few noisy words with his wife.  He was upset.  So upset there was a tic going in his cheek.  Except for some reason I’d typed stick.  Since when did hacked-off characters go around with lumps of wood in their faces?  I went to pieces.  So much so I couldn’t think straight.  What was the correct word?  I began to doubt it was even tic.  Wasn’t that some sort of flea?  Perhaps it was tick...or weren’t those marks our teachers gave us?  Howling in frustration, I opted for the word nerve.  Another hasty email went flying through Cyberspace to Rebecca.

Thoroughly unsettled, I returned to the MS.  What would I find next?  I didn’t have long to wait.  The character Cass was deep in thought.  So much so, her mind was whirring.  Except Cass was so distressed it was actually her wind that was whirring.  Cue instant vision of my character staggering about clutching her guts.  Once again I raced to my computer and belted off an email to Rebecca.

So all I can do is sincerely apologise to those who downloaded a novel with more clangers than that programme in the early Seventies.

Which reminds me.  A writer died and was given the option of going to Heaven or Hell.  She decided to check out both places first. In Hell she viewed a steaming workshop full of writers chained to their desks.  ‘Oh my,’ said the writer, ‘let me see Heaven now.’  Moments later she ascended to Heaven.  Again she witnessed a steaming workshop full of writers chained to their desks.  ‘This is just as bad as Hell,’ the writer gasped.  ‘Oh no it’s not,’ boomed a mysterious voice, ‘here your work gets published...’


  1. You told me to edit my novel within an inch of its life. Which I did. Now I'm proof reading and hopefull the the lovely Rebecca Emin who is ace at formatting for Amazon will have time to format my novel for me. She is extremely clever.

  2. You always brighten up my inbox, Debbie! And your blog is so amusing, keep up the good work.