Friday 25 January 2013

Writers need never run out of ideas

There are thirty-nine dramatic plots, or twelve, or seven stories, or just one story shape according to which theory you follow. There are millions of themes. Writers can take a particular part of a known story and make it the whole story. They can clothe known characters in a variety of personalities. They can turn the stories they hear at the pub and the little articles in the local paper into major dramas. Never should a writer be able to say they are stuck for a story.
A new perspective on an old tale
Tell a well-known story from a different point of view. Perhaps tell the story of a footman or an ugly sister instead of Cinderella. Or bring the story right into the 21st century. Perhaps Jack decides to try a GM crop much to the disgust of organic farmer mother.
Shakespeare is good for a story
The Bard has probably lasted not because of his elegant iambic pentameters and his use of the Warwickshire dialect but because he tells fine stories that resonate with humans. Tragedy, the bringing about of the hero’s downfall through his own unavoidable fault, is still valid. Impossible love affairs and mistaken identity still make for good reading material.
The Bible
This too is full of stories. They are quite intriguing – perhaps even more so if you don’t quite believe them. But it’s also quite a valid activity, finding out what really happened at the time. What would it have been like, being an Egyptian mother at the time when all first born were cursed? Or for that matter being a Jewish one who is tempted to hide her baby in the bulrushes? Who was that crazy teacher who gathered crowds to hear him talk? And what if it was happening now instead of then?
Down the pub
Can the gossip produce a story? Why exactly did the owner of the big hotel near the motorway roundabout run off with the Lottery money? What will happen now? What will happen to those families where the main earner has been made redundant? How is everyone going to get to the match on Saturday if it carries on snowing?  
Run over dogs
The small articles in the local newspaper. What about the little girl who lost her glove puppet three times in one week? Or the old lady living alone who took on the chance thief who broke into her home?  Not to mention the ATM that gave out £20 notes instead of £10.00.
If there’s a good story there we can normally fix the writing, time allowing i.e. if it’s not so dire that it would take too many man-hours to fix. Sadly no matter how great the writing we can’t take it if the story doesn’t work. Writers, there are so many sources of good stories.  Take the time to find yours.                     

Tuesday 1 January 2013

A publisher’s wish list for a new year

Here are some of the things that could make us happy in 2013
Finding the ground-breaking novel
We’d like to get that submission that really excites us. The story that is so different but is still recognisable as a story. The one that will change the world. A novel that will get everyone talking. Of course, we’re quite prepared for the fact that not everyone will agree with us. The main thing is that we should be thrilled.
Getting a best-seller
Obviously that would be good for everyone. We’d make more money and could invest more in more titles, both current ones and new ones. Some more attention would be brought to our authors.
Increased sales
We’re selling steadily but we’d like to sell more. Free and cheap books are fine – and we do offer them from time to time – but it’s only fair that everybody involved in the process of producing a book should be paid properly. So, if you do take advantage of a free or cheap book and you enjoy it, do give it a positive review. 
Satisfied customers
They usually are.  This is what we aim at and never do anything deliberately to annoy our customers. Nevertheless, the odd order goes astray, the odd book arrives damaged. We try to rectify that as soon as we can. We only hope for as few problems as possible this year.
Happy authors
We try to make the editing process pretty painless. Sometimes, though, something isn’t working  - either because it wouldn’t work in any circumstances or because it doesn’t fit what we aim to do. Changes have to be made. We hope to manage this without annoying our authors and we hope that they can make these changes effectively and in a timely manner.  
Not too many poor reviews
They actually don’t do all that much damage. I will often read a book that has had a bad review simply because I don’t believe it. I’m often then pleasantly surprised.
In any case, whilst 5* reviews are great, 3* and 4* are actually fine too. 2* or 1* either mean that we do need to take something on board or that we’re being pursued by a troll.
It’s just that it’s not all that pleasant reading a poor review.  
No complaints about 2012 really
2012 wasn’t a bad year. We’ve had some reasonable submissions and we may soon be asking some people to send full manuscripts. There are some promising stories out there. Sales are picking up. There have only been a very few problems with customers. Authors have worked with us fairly seamlessly. Reviews have been good and very good. No sign of the bestseller yet but that is anyway the ultimate goal.
Let’s just hope we can crank it all up a little.