Tag Archives: writing novels

Starting a book and pulling them in…


half-blood-blues-reviewI’m pre-studying various novels as I prep for working on my own. In between research about the time and place, I’m digging through some of my to be read pile – and today I found a real treat. I’ve opened Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan. 

Within the first few pages, I was hooked, totally hooked, so much so my plan to do my taxes today is shuffled aside for a glorious immersion in the book.  What caught me so quickly?

The first sentences:

Chip told us not to go out. Said, don’t you boys tempt the devil. But it had been one brawl of a night, I tell you, all of us still reeling from the rot – rot was cheap, see, the drink of French peasants, but it stayed like nails in you gut. Didn’t even look right, all mossy and black in the bottle. Like drinking swamp water.

What devil? Out from where? Why are they drinking French peasant rot? What’s the dialect I’m hearing?

The next paragraph gets better, more atmospheric, more visual. More auditory, even, with more dialect and turns of phrase and phrases that make you go, huh? and want to know more more more. I’m already invested in the main character by the second page, all twitchy and nervous like he is, not sure quite why yet, but wanting to know.

This is how it’s done. Fabulous. No wonder this book won all those prizes – Giller, short listed for Man Booker, GGs, Writer’s Trust…

This one’s a keeper, for reference when I’m writing. If I can only capture a bit of this magic…

Mad writing begins…


ImageYep. It’s that Nanwrimo thing, which someone told me sounds like baby talk.

In a way it is. You sit and write madly for hours and days and just try to get stuff out of your head onto paper and finally spew out 50,000 words by November 30th and then pat yourself on the back for accomplishing it and forget all about it.

Unless you are like my niece, Stephanie, who honed and self-published her book. Or Stephanie Domet, who wrote her first book this way, and who is offering a workshop at the Tatamagouche Centre this weekend to start people off.

Or me, and use the month to complete an already planned writing project. I’m leading a workshop, too, just a humble free one and so you get what you pay for…it’s at the Woodlawn library in Dartmouth and should be fun.

Or so many others, who use this month and the assigned schedule to help reactivate their writing lives and start living creatively again. It’s all a good thing, both the making of a resolution and meeting it and the writing itself.

But your novel will NOT be immediately ready for prime time. Revision, revision, revision, right? Nanowrimo gets a bad name because people write their 50,000 words and it seems so good to them in their “I did it!” wash of superiority, they think it’s ready for prime time. 

Don’t do this, please.

But do participate. It’s free. You get writing prompts. You get bragging rights. And really, you only have to write less than 2000 words a day.  And strangely, at the end of the month, you may well have something. It might not be a novel, it might not be anything like what your started out to do, or it might be exactly what you wanted. In any case, you’ll have written, and as you can see elsewhere on this blog, the feeling is unbelievably wonderful.

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