Are the badly written ones, usually with no sense of their audience and sometimes just no sense in them at all! And my, there are an awful lot of these.
My experience of blogging so far has taught me that bloggers capable of writing entries that interest and inform me tend to be reviewers of novels, not those who purport to be writing novels.
So I will no longer follow the guy who has already written 4 plays, 8 screenplays and 22 stories (funnily enough he’s not a household name), nor those writers of post-apocalyptic netherworld trilogies, nor the woman who posts 500 plus words daily from her ‘rite of passage’ novel that has, based on the excerpts I forced myself to read, all the narrative magnetism of a shopping list.
What seems to unite such writers is their complete lack of self reflection or any acquaintance with the concept of editing. Last November the blogosphere (is that right? I am still quite new to this) was plagued with ‘NaNoWriMo’* posts. I understood the concept of this American phenomenon long before I worked out the exact meaning of the drawly title – just write loads of words every day and see if you can get to 50,000 in a month! You get a chart to track your progress! And you will get a certificate if you reach that goal!
Yes I appreciate the benefits of word count when writing – as a marker of progress – but I thought it was a given that it’s the good, right words of the draft that are counted not every jot and scribble penned along the way. I would have written my novel in two months if I had followed the ‘NaNo’ principal – na, no indeed.
As it is I have taken 5 years to write my novel – my handful of followers will know that I finished the piece late last year and sent it away to a woman who truly does knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the written word.
Overall the verdict was favourable and the advice generous. So I continue with my reworks, turning the screws on my narrative structure, plumbing new depths in characters’ motivations. On a daily basis there is little that I allow myself to accept into the work, small fruit of many hours thought. I am content with this, it works, the picture builds.
I came across this quote today from Joan Didion, which encapsulates the process so well:
“To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed…The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind…The picture tells you how to arrange the words and the arrangement of the words tells you, or tells me, what’s going on in the picture.”
Why I Write (1976)
*National November Writing Month – in case you really needed to know