Sunday, 30 June 2013

Warning! May Contain Nuts …

I’m about half way through writing another novel and getting close to the world taekwondo championships, so my word choice and breakfast cereal are paramount.

The other week, in preparation for the upcoming world championships in taekwondo, I changed by breakfast cereal.  Now let’s not get excited – I’m not going in the next Olympics nor will I appear on Sky Sports – I’ll be completing with a couple of thousand others and the chances of me getting a trophy are minimal.

But hope springs eternal and in preparation, I need to lose a kilo in weight to stay in my current weight division of middleweight.  I can’t go into heavy weight, I just can’t.  Apart from the fact I’ll get battered like a kipper, my own personal vanity won’t allow it.  It took several weeks of counselling from my mother to admit to myself I was no longer a UK size 10 and had to move up to a size 12 in underpants.  My dreams of a career as an international fashion model were finally over.  But then I’d have to say to people ‘I’m in the heavy weight division’ – oh dear God the ignominy.  Middle-aged spread would finally have hit me.  Somebody pass me the vino …

So, in order to keep my sanity and my svelte figure – I haven’t dusted my mirror to keep up the
illusion – I changed by breakfast cereal from Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (which is just an adult version of Frosties) to a posh granola type.  It must be a step up in breakfast consumption because I bought it from Waitrose; it cost twice as much and came in a smaller box, so it must be good for me.  Day one of ‘healthier cereal’ day came and while chewing it, which took quite some time I may say, I looked at the words on the box describing my new middle-class breakfast experience.  Apparently, instead of ‘They’re Greeeeaaat!’ or ‘Nice with ice cold milk’ my posh new granola is ‘Honest, Tasty and True.’

If there’s one thing I’m really concerned about in my breakfast cereals is its honesty.  I mean, would I be safe leaving my wallet around it, what with the cereal box being left open?  Would it steal my cash, commit fraud on my credit card or try to pass itself of as me via my driving licence?  Hell, my box of cereal might try to buy a plane ticket and run away to Brazil!  And what of its truth?  Is it really a breakfast cereal, or it is a loaf of bread cunningly disguised as a box of cereal?  Or will the cereal try to seduce my hamster, get her pregnant and leave her with a litter of hamster/toasted oats hybrid babies?  Of course it can’t, it’s a box of bloody cereal.  And besides, Rusty the hamster would much rather delve into a bag of Doritos.  Little minx.

Thing is, I’m writing a new novel and there are a couple of things that are bothering me and choosing my words carefully is one of them.  It’s another ghost story, but this time it’s novel length.  I want to get it right and that’s it’s all in the words, and how many I choose.  Too many and I’ll sound verbose, not enough and there won’t be any atmosphere left, which is crucial to any decent ghost story.  And then there’s the, ahem, love scenes.  What shall I use there?  Too flowery and I’ll want to poke my own eyes out with a pencil, too graphic and it won’t be a ghost story anymore.  Getting the balance right and the shades of meaning and the connotations of your choice of words is the rub.  I guess that’s where the craft part comes into writing, and what I've learnt the most this year.  And hopefully, if I’m cycling downhill with the wind behind me, I’ll get it right this time and one of those God-like agents might deign to read it without chucking it in the bin …

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, the all-important word count - I often think that the ghost story lends itself particularly well to either the short story or the novella (keep the spills and thrills concentrated to heighten their impact). On the other hand, ghost stories rely heavily on atmosphere, and you need a fair number of words to create that. Tricky. You have to experiment to get it right.

    I can't speak about taekwondo, but I'll shortly be joining you in dieting. I'm on holiday, and knocking back a load of pizza and wine. I know I'm going to regret this...

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