Thursday, 13 November 2014

It's November So It's Bad Sex in Fiction Time...

I admit, I do enjoy reading about the shortlisted entries for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction award-the winner is announced 3rd December.

Some years the entries get more publicity than others, and I suspect 2014 might get more than usual as there are a few well known names among them: Kirsty Wark, Wilbur Smith and Michael Cunningham.

You can read the shortlisted entries in this Guardian article. You can even take part in their own vote on who you think should win.

If you have missed this before now, the Literary Review's purpose for the award- in it's 22nd year- is to bring attention to, "poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them."

Now admittedly, these extracts are only a small part of the book- I've just had to rewrite that sentence, as my original words sounded like a deliberate double entendre... :D

This year's nominees include Man Booker Prize winners, current and past; and a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Fortunately these high tokens of literary esteem don't take bad sex scenes into account in the judging process.

Having read through each extract in this Guardian article I went from thinking that Kirsty Wark's wasn't that bad, but as I read the rest it quickly became: good grief, that's really bad- and the really bad ones- five in my opinion.

My nominations for possible winners: 'From 'DD-MM-YY' In Things to Make and Break', by May-Lan Tan, and 'The Hormone Factory', by Saskia Goldschmidt.

You can find out more on the Literary Review webpage here.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Learning from Feedback...

Finally had time to grab a moment to blog.

November is always a busy month with family birthdays, organising for Christmas, and the run up to Awards Night and Christmas Party at the writers' club.

I took on the role of Prose Secretary around this time last year just as a stop-gap, but I decided to carry on with the job, as next April I complete my three year stint as Chairman and have to hand over to whomever is standing for election to the role.

Occasionally I also get an opportunity to judge a competition- which I've just done.

Feedback is a vital tool in enabling writers to improve, and it was while I was typing up my notes that I realised how much I've learnt, not just from reading and writing, but from the generosity of other writers giving their time and experience- whether as a competition judge, during workshops, or even informative blog/website posts.

When I think back to my manuscripts 12 years ago, I can now see how much I've learnt- and still continue to learn of course.

I don't think we can ever have a total disconnection from our stories and characters, having lived with them so closely during the writing process. So a competition judge will be reading our work with a fresh perspective and will pick up the faults we might have missed. Because we know that's what our characters are thinking, it's easy to miss getting that over to our readers...

So in just under a month I'll be handing back a number of manuscripts from the club's annual competitions- ghost stories, romance, radio, and this year's non-fiction, article writing- and the first thing the majority of the writers will do is read the comments.

Admittedly we don't need to follow the judge's feedback completely, as there's bound to be things that we don't agree with- I was devastated one year when a judge said that one of my character's who was dead was the most interesting, and then the next judge who read it liked it, and awarded it first place.

My current work in progress was entered in this year's bi-annual Romance Novel competition, so the judge's comments on the synopsis and first 3 chapters will be very helpful when I get to the revision stages.

I'll tell you how my entry got on after the December 3rd evening...

Meanwhile there's still a lot to do, and writing to get on with. :-)