Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pre-NaNo Nerves

Yesterday I decided to re-open Erase, since I haven’t looked at it for a long time, and think about NaNo. I was surprised to find how small – small for me anyway – the word count is. It’s at just over 40,000 words right now. My finishing goal is around 70,000, so it looks like I have to find 30,000 words from somewhere!

I’ve also realised that things aren’t as together in my mind as I thought they were. I really need to start jotting down writing related notes again, because a lot has gone out of my head. I need a direction. Or at least, I feel like I need a direction. Considering I’ve been improvising the majority of Erase, I think I’ve done well to get this far. But now, to get everything together and tie up all the loose ends (if it is to be a standalone) I really need a basic plan. 

To summarise, this month is going to a lot tougher than I thought it would be! But I’m excited to start, and get back into my characters’ heads again. 

What’s your MS/MS plan looking like for NaNo?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

I’ve spent the last hour or so skim reading my MS from a couple of years ago, the one which I won NaNoWriMo 2010 with, and it’s helped me make my decision for this year’s NaNo. 

I’m going to do NaNo this year. For a couple of weeks I was in two minds about it, but in the last couple of days I’ve been more resolute about going for it this year.

I said at the start of this year that I wouldn’t give up on things that meant the most to me – eg. writing – and yet it all seems to have fallen by the wayside again. Yesterday I decided to sketch for the first time in two months, and it was such a great release for me. Writing is the same. It’s my escape. But somehow, along the way, I always seem to forget that. I’m really hoping NaNoWriMo will be the thing to bring me to my senses, and help me finish the first draft of Erase. 

I’m looking forward to it. I’m right near the home straight for Erase, and I have a lot of loose ends to tie. It will be great to put an end to Lake’s story, although whether it’ll still feel like a standalone novel by the end of November has yet to be seen. 

But I will be updating my progress throughout November, hopefully – and that’s a tentative hopefully – at my usual blogging schedule. 

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to November, and all the writing that has yet to come. 

How are you feeling about NaNo this year?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Blogging Schedule Change and NaNoWriMo

Firstly, I apologise for not being very active recently. Those who regularly keep up with Between The Grey will know why, and I think I’m going to change my blogging schedule to once a week, on Saturdays. I hope this will only be temporary, until I find my feet a little more! 

Secondly, the blogosphere is nervous with excitement at the approaching November: I am of course referring to NaNoWriMo. 

I’ve done two NaNoWriMos. The first one I didn’t manage to complete, although I did get an extra 30,000 words on my MS which was just the push I needed for that novel. On my second attempt I won, and by the end of November I’d almost finished that MS. That year I had planned to write something completely different, but changed my mind – I’m still really glad I did change my mind. 

I think NaNoWriMo is a great thing for writers. I’ve heard people say it’s impossible before, which obviously is rubbish. It’s not impossible at all. It’s hard yes, it’s incredibly hard, but if you’re dedicated enough, and your life allows you the time to sit down and write, it’s very much achievable. 

Another reason I love NaNo is for the way it brings together writers. We can all share that common goal in November, the elusive 50,000 words. We can encourage each other, offer advice when things get tough, cheer when somebody you know manages to win. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing for the writing community. 

I wish I could do NaNo this year. Erase is yet to be finished, and I’d love to get ten or twenty thousand more words done on it. Perhaps I’ll have a mini NaNo, I’m not sure. 

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Nice Work and Talking About Books

I recently read Nice Work by David Lodge. It’s a book set in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s, and it sees the relationship between two completely different people – Dr Robyn Penrose, an English lecture at the University of Rummidge (a fictional university in around the same place as Birmingham) and Vic Wilcox, a high up factory boss. 

I think this book says a lot about the context of the time. You definitely sense that constant panic and uneasiness, with the lack of job security and the recession crippled society. I also think it also says a lot about people. Compared to Robyn, Vic is quite a relatable character. Robyn seems like the sort of character purely constructed to highlight the author’s point, Lodge’s point being how she is forced to sell out her own values in order to keep the dominant social order. But overall it was a pretty good book. 

However, it wasn’t until I talked about Nice Work with other people and got their perspectives on it, that it really opened up for me what I liked and disliked about the book, as well as several other points which I hadn’t previously thought about.

I think it’s easy to underestimate the value of talking about books. Sure, you get a lot from simply reading books. But books should be talked about. They should be analysed. After all, most books have some sort of comment on society, whether deliberate or not. 

So today, I want to open the forum to you. What have you been reading? What did you like/dislike about it? What do you think it says about society, or even just what did you gain from it?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Do You Know English As Well As You Thought?

Yes, I know the question is strange. Of course you know English, you want to be a writer. You probably know English better than most people, and being so well read helps too. 

For one of my university courses I’m spending a semester studying the Middle Ages, most specifically the text Beowulf and Old English. But instead of launching straight into it, we’re going back to basics. We’re learning how to construct a sentence. We’re analysing sentences, naming nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions . . . and do you know what I’ve started to realise?

 I don’t know English as well as I thought I did. 

Sure, I can construct a sentence. I’m doing it right now! But do I know what every word does? Do I know the exact function of it? Do I know what each part of the sentence can be categorised as? 

Not always, no. And don’t even get me started on finite and non-finite verbs. 

So today, I’m giving you all a little pop quiz. Good luck, and let me know how well you do! Answers will be lower down the page. 


Name the subject, verb, direct object and indirect object in this sentence:

Our teacher has given us so much work.

Name the noun, verb, adjective and adverb in the sentence:

The black horse bucked suddenly.

Name the conjunction and preposition in this sentence:

If I told you the truth, would you hold it against me?

Identify the finite and non-finite verbs in this sentence. If you actually happen to know what finite and non-finite verbs are (I didn’t until Sunday!), say whether it’s an infinitive, past participle or present participle for the non-finite ones:

I had to look as the sunset fell down in the sky.


Our teacher is the subject; has given is the verb; us is the indirect object; so much work is the direct object.

Black is the adjective, horse is the noun, bucked is the verb and suddenly is the adverb.

If is the conjunction, against is the preposition.

Had is the finite verb, to look and fell are the non-finite verbs, an infinitive and a past participle respectively.


How did you do? Do you know English as well as you thought you did?