Geoff Timms

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Middle aged, grey haired semi wrinkly and retired.

I like writing fantasy ghost fairy stories that at times have a fairly strong religious content, so lots of angels and demons muscling their way in.

I write (well, I try to) because I now can. The day job of being an IT consultant / Enterprise Architect doesn’t get in the way.


I’ve also signed up for the April NaNoWriMo malarkey.

Why do you think you’ve been lazy during March? One person’s version of laziness is another person’s vision of frenetic activity. For me, just steadily plodding along like a tortoise, hits the spot.

Brigitte, I did say that the sun is coming out. That means when I'm walking the dog down the old bridleway, inspiration can strike. For example, in the late afternoon, seeing sudden shafts of golden light pierce the tangled trees and shrubs, illuminating midges dancing their vertical ballet in the narrow corridor of warmth. I didn't say I was going to stop scribbling....just need to get out more to work out how to weave everyday life into my stories.

Brigitte, I'm tempted to imitate Brenda from Bristol, and say "You're joking? Not another one."

My NaNoWriMo effort from November has been purged of typo's and bad grammar, and has now been moved to the "festering pile". Which means I'm leaving it alone while I work on a previous story, which is getting a rewrite, and a major overhaul. 

April and July are not good months to be writing. The sun is starting to come out, and that means my cursed mistress (my classic car) is calling to me, and demanding that I attend to all those little jobs that need to be done.  

I've been boring, and just plodding along. Since completing NaNoWriMo, I have been steadily going through the 50,000 words, and checking for grammar and spelling mistakes - when doing NaNoWriMo, I took the view the 50K words was the target, and it didn't matter if the words were correct or not. I've also been editing at the same time, and trying to fill out the annoying holes in the plot.

I've now arrived at what I call my revision 2, and instead of taking words out, more words have gone in. Word count now at 66K, and there are still some holes to fill in. 

I've also created another version in Scrivener (mainly as an exercise in getting to learn how Scrivener works.) Once I've buffed and honed my current project, I'll go back to the other two I've got on the go.

Hmm, and is there a standard to be used when a protagonist is speaking with a ghost? And is the only person who can see and converse with said ghost? At present, I've written it as standard speech.

CAIN's JAWBONE seems like the sort of puzzle researchers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, regularly have to deal with. And something interesting to get to grips with. 

If you want to become fluent in stylized English of the 1930's, a good start is in reading the memoirs of officers who served in the First World War. For example, Adventures of a Motorcycle Despatch Rider during The First World War by Major William Henry Lowe Watson. The tone of the book makes The First World War sound like a jolly adventure and a bit of a laugh. Then migrate through the various Biggles books, and dare I mention, the Billy Bunter books and comic strips?

I've just looked up CAIN'S JAWBONE on Amazon, and read the description given. Jo, it's a good job you're in Canada, and you daughter is in England. Don't shoot her. The problem is solvable through logic and intelligent reading. 

I'm still trying to solve plot inconsistences and missing bits in my NaNoWriMo 50K words. Now up to 61K words.

I'm currently editing the 50K that I wrote in NaNo. However, I'm not wielding a scalpel, or even a lancet. I'm busy cramming more words in to cover the awkward "And Lo! a miracle occurs" holes in the plot, simply because I focussed on writing 50K words. Word count now stands at 59K and I suspect it might (just like COVID) gallop ever higher.

Editing is being done on a two-pronged attack. Firstly, go through the text with Grammarly, removing grammar mistakes. Secondly, use ProWritingAid to see what that throws up if Grammarly has given a clean bill of health. Thirdly, make sure my characters have more of a "face". Their words are on the page, but any descriptions are sparse, so need fleshing out.

Jo, I think the name of ProWritingAid gives the game away. It is a piece of software that I suspect has been constructed using artificial intelligence, and also a rules-based engine to check for grammar and stylistic conventions in people's writing. It is an aid - nothing more, nothing less. You're the author. You're the one that should make the ultimate decision as to how your novel starts, twist, turns, and finally ends. It's an aid to thinking, not a substitute for it. 

If i go into a bookshop in the future and I see the latest Jo Gatenby book is on sale, and I've read your books before, I expect to see the Jo Gatenby style, idiosyncrasies and flourishes on display in that book. I don't want to see some homogenised, blended, standardised text that's been churned out by some AI engine.

(And if you really do want a vote, I like number 4).  

For me, doing NaNo, was a chance to prove if I had the tenacity to go for a target and stick to it. I had an idea in my head (which was sparked by the combination of a couple of things). A new bench has recently been installed on the communal ground outside our house, and some years ago while waiting for a train at Retford, a young woman started talking to me about a recent unwanted experience. Even though I’m retired, and so may not have the time constraints that others do, it was still tough at times to find the time to sit and write, especially when a builder is filling the house with dust.

I did the 50K words. According to Grammarly and Pro-Writing Aid, I’ve ended up with “English as she is spoke”. No doubt if Harry Bingham was to review it, he might fall about laughing at the awfulness of it. BUT - I have the kernal of a book that I can hone at my leisure. I know that there are some gaps in the plot. I know I want to change the beginning. I know I want to enhance the characters backgrounds and profiles. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you achieved the 50K or not, the exercise on producing words is what really matters to me. You’ll have something that can be taken forward and developed.

I know I’m mad. It’s only my insanity that keeps me sane.

Julia, why do we have to stop? Why can’t we just carry on? Might lead to madness, but, what the heck?

I managed to sneak past 50K today. I won’t be doing anything tomorrow, simply because I’m going to Banbury to get my eyes checked and do some Christmas shopping. Thursday? - well there’s Pro-Writing Aid to explore, plus update one of my laptops to Windows 11.

Then it’ll be down to some serious editing, plus some extensive additions, and general chopping about.

Will I do NaNoWriMo again? That depends on what ideas I have. I found the actual scribbling not too onerous. Luckily the plot seemed to drive itself. The characters also developed as the writing went on. There is also the possibility of a sequel (or two).

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Geoff Timms
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