Yes people! Yesterday I read my second (and last) contribution to the Advance Writing Class.
I had been agonising about it all weekend and at the last moment (well lunchtime) I decided to write something new…again. Still part of the same story but a scene much further in. For this particular scene, I originally wanted to do a fight scene but I ended up with a scary locked room scene instead.
The feedback was really great. The last time, there were issues with my tone and voice for my main gal, Cassie and some issues with too much commentary lines. This time, I got the tone right and the tension was working. I still had some issues with too many commentary lines which I had to ask specifics on as I explained that I had tried hard to cut them down but maybe I didn’t really understand what they were… It appears that there are different types and I had taken care of some, but not all.
By commentary lines, Howard – how fearless tutor – meant the lines I had added which explained what a statement meant. For example:
They had taken her shoes, she realised. Why would they do that? And who the hell were they, anyway?
The part highlighted is considered a commentary line. I should cut it out and let the reader make those comments to themselves.
Another one is:
She was not alone in room. That much she could tell. There was another person breathing, however faintly. It was too dark still for her to see where she was but she was sure it wasn’t a four star hotel.
Again, the highlighted parts are considered commentary and diffuse the tension that I am trying to create.
Otherwise, it appears that I have a natural flow for tension, a few of my fellow students said they were skipping ahead of me to know what was going to happen next.
I am a huge thriller/suspense fan but I never thought I was capable to write some. Now I’d like to be able to merge suspense and fantasy together…which is what I am trying to do with the current story.
Howard recommended that I ready some 1930s/1940s American Noir writers as they do hard boiled well and apparently my style is closer to that as I don’t do flowery description. Sharp, tense action is where my strength seem to be. He recommended Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson, Walter Mosley… As before, I realised that my reading education, especially with classical American writers is quite abysmal. Although I know their favourite detectives: Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe (through TV series mostly). And as I am an obsessive type, first thing I did this morning was check them out on Amazon Kindle – which didn’t have cheap versions. So my next best website for books, especially second hand, is AbeBooks where I found really cheap second copies of The Big Sleep (Chandler), The Devil in a Blue Dress (Mosley), Hammett’s 4 first novels pack and the 3 first novels of Sue Grafton (who is a modern, female version of those dudes)…all for less than £10! Result!
I have read Sue Grafton before and I have very much enjoyed it but I had a shocking memory so I can’t remember which one I have read before. I do remember that I had borrowed the books from the library, so it will be good to have them to study.
Next week is our last class. I can’t believe it has been 6 weeks already! I am sure I will do that class again (you can do it as often as you like – of course) but probably not next semester. I need to do more coherent writing first so I can get more out of it. I still feel a little shaky about it and messy in my planning.
Thanks for reading,