R.J.Harrison

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Researchers say that taking on new challenges helps slow down the roller-coaster of time passing. So I'm kayaking down rivers, sailing an old boat and attempting my first novel.  I find I can write stuff but salvaging the good bits are the challenge.  I decided to write a story that has been fermenting away for years and called The Inheritance of Cruelty.  It's supposed to be a literary thriller exploring the many reasons why good people do terrifying things. I have no illusions about publication, but I do want it to be the best it can be.

 When I'm stuck, I unbuckle and draft a short story.  One seemed to be well received so I'm also attempting a book length collection of related stories as well. I use an old laptop that can barely connect to the web - well, it can, but it's slow, so I cannot distract with social media -and it has an old fashioned full travel proper keyboard. So I'm happy.


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R.J.Harrison Discussions
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I've been messing about with my first paragraph of my first chapter, having gone back to spruce it u…
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  •  · You are not alone in trying to figure out what goes where. I've just moved the middle of my book to …
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Last week's presentation about Olaf's BEEMGEE software was interesting.  I'm experimenting with the …
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  •  · It’s from the Save the Cat writes a Novel book,
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Part of my novel is about showing the growth of my protagonist.  A young man, he catches a black-Bri…
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  •  · You're right, Kate, it is sometimes easier to stay quiet. But there's the risk of that frustration b…
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. I have a challenge I could do some help with.  I started out writing a story about welfare work in…
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  •  · Thanks Kate. Too kind. It is a bit formless though. The welfare life is live and kicking in 7 chapte…
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This is a big ask, so I'm ready to be disappointed. I'm half-way through a 'novel of stories' called…
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  •  · I overuse them over the place too
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Some of you were so encouraging about a short story about Gregory and the Blue Vase (title originall…
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  •  · Having got stuck in, I can see how I can make this work better by some more support for the reader a…

I suspect ragged edges work when they come unbidden from the characters doing their thing on the writer. From my voice to character, and character to plot, and plot to story.  Lot's of room for mischief from the unconscious. 

I have my young protagonist carrying a small, elderly GP over his shoulder, up seven flights of stairs in a deserted block of flats to visit the psychotic last tenant.  I swear I didn't plan or expect that.  My characters forced it upon me. 

I had an adventure in St Malo once. Nice to be reminded of it. . .

Wonderful news. Agents are real after all!

There were two things from the Booker this week for me. How nice and pleasantly ordinary the winner seemed to be.  It did feel as if he might be a scribbler like most of us who just kept writing. The second thing was an offhand remark by a Radio 4 presenter. "Of course, nowadays, winning the Booker makes you a millionaire overnight.'

So it might, I imagine.  I just hadn't thought of it that way.  My ambitions are presently lamentably low. I fervently hope that my next chapter, submitted to my monthly writing group, will get a broad thumbs up and some positive encouragement, as well as a few tips. I'm becoming like my dog. Hungry for morsels.

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That's Mila.  She got The Barker but not sharing the prize. Happy Bonfire Night (When, for our American Cousins, we celebrate The Gunpowder Plot to bring down the Government- or the preventing of it succeeding. You might try the same thing on January 6th.)

Oh goodness.. l feel doomed. Do we all have to win prizes? Is that the answer?

Jeez this stuff is just so hard....I sometimes wish that someone would pay me not to write. It would have to be a lot though. Because I like it. I'm drawn at night to this seductive keyboard. 

Thank you. That examination of p.o.v. was very useful for me. Clarity about pov for the reader is critical, but elsewhere in blogs the necessity of preciseness in description is explained too. Just lately I cannot shake off a scene that came unbidden one night.  I see a woman trundling a tartan shopping bag behind her down a leafy suburban street. She passes most days with the bulging little trolley and one sunny morning I am on the pavement, tinkering with my car, when she rattles by. I smile, but she doesn't, then I see a scattered trail of oily drips from her little trolley. I realise it is blood. 

Now I can certainly work on that. How do I know it's blood and not a broken bottle of ketchup? How will I find out it's human blood?  What is she wearing? Maybe more preciseness about the tinkering work. Am I on my knees? 

But the bit that's nagging me, is describing the woman. How old is she? The trolly suggests elderly, and I am compelled to suggest she is of 'a certain age.'  How peculiar that we say that. A phrase with the word CERTAIN in the middle, but I have no idea what that age is. It's an abominable cliche because, at least to me, it means nothing. Nor would we say a man of a certain age. So I won't ever use it in my work. The scene doesn't belong in my books either.  That's certainly scary. The murdering of Mrs Greenbottom came unwanted and I must let it go.


Ha ha - I did write deep shit, but decided Jericho was rather proper and deleted it! 

My mantra for October is about holding my nerve:

I'm 45k into a 90k novel. 10 long chapters out of 20.  My protagonist is in deep trouble and I'm about to make it much worse. Dark days. Got to stick at that. 

Most of the time I am convinced no-one will want to read my book, let alone finish it, so must put those thoughts aside. 

Beta readers tell me that by having my young main character angrily say unacceptable things to a black youth, all readers will abandon him. I have to hold on to my belief that they are wrong, and that the changes my MC experiences redeems him and offers something to the reader. 

My novel is set in the messy, unpopular years of the late seventies. But so was Life On Mars so I must hold my nerve. 

The middle of my novel must not be soggy. So far, it's not. I must hang in there. Get it done. Discard that great bulging, no, writhing bag of doubt, and write on. 


Absolutely agree with David. I'm 45k into a novel and each 2.5k chapter is submitted with synopsis-so-far to a writers group. I get 8-10 feedbacks each time. No friends or family, and rule of give and take honest opinion. What I have learned is be clear what feedback you want, and expect a mix of good and poor advice. Only accept what sounds true for you. Also agree to swap with other writers best. I also have non-writer readers and lovely as they are with encouragement, they just don't have the heart, or language to describe what doesn't seem right to them. I just ask them if it was boring and are they left wanting more. Since you have been mentored and edited already, I'm not sure you need beta readers. You might ask them to scan for grammar mistakes that have slipped the net? Personally I would stop twiddling with my tassels and ask them to put reviews up when you publish soon. Pay no-one now.  Start writing the next! But hey. What do I know? I'm still in the mire! You have finished! That's a HUGE achievement and time to celebrate. Trust yourself and let rhe thing go I'd say.

Great examination of head hopping. Thanks. Helpful for me. I gave up on my first novel since I thought the 'duel' between two closest friends demanded headswitching...amping up the actual dialogue and the internal and different 'dialogue'.  They were like brothers. So I now realise why that headhopping seemed right to me in a crucial scene but against the rules.  

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