Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Subbed & pumped

After spending the past two weeks pouring over the first couple of chapters of my novel, editing, weeding out backstory, honing, I subbed my first 50 pages and revised synopsis to the Hachette Australia manuscript development program today.

The feedback on my revised synopsis from my writing group was generally positive, so it only needed a few tweaks here and there. The real work was done on the first chapter, which I pared back and reshaped substantially, while retaining its essence. I reasoned that if I could nail the first few chapters and synopsis, any prospective readers would hopefully be sucked in by the time they got past chapter 3. Since my chapter 2 is already in my view pretty strong, that left chapters 1 & 3 to focus on. Well, mainly chapter 1.

I feel rather pumped about the whole thing at present. It's given me a focus. Applicants will be notified of success/failure on 23 September, so I have until then to progress my rewrite -- because if I am successful I will need to sub the full manuscript right away. If I am not successful, I will likely take a little break to combat severe depression! But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

For now, I'm feeling optimistic.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Movie: Harry Potter #6

Harry Potter and the half-blood prince is one of my least favourite HP novels. I've always found it maintains a bit of a holding pattern, particularly after all the action in Order of the phoenix. Lord Voldemort doesn't even make an appearance (except as Tom Riddle in copious flashbacks) -- after dominating HP5, which culminates with a climactic confrontation with Dumbledore. As a result, Half-blood prince seems anticlimactic to me.

The movie, though, could almost be the best of them so far. I say 'could' because I'm reserving judgement until I see it again. It's easy to be blown away the first time. However, it somehow manages to convey all the desperation of a world in despair that the book didn't for me. It is a very atmospheric movie, dark, lots of rapid movements, lots of sweeping camera shots with interesting angles. I really liked it cinematically.

There seems to be vast number of new characters as well. There's a real focus on the students in particular -- many of them new -- although once again there are very few classroom scenes. Somehow, the movie carries more weight. It's less 'cartoony'. A bit like the difference between Star Trek and Babylon 5. All this, despite a huge emphasis on teen romantic entanglements (not the strongest aspect of this movie).

The boy playing Tom Riddle is sufficiently creepy. And this would definitely be the strongest movie for Draco Malfoy. In the book he behaves mysteriously and Harry is obsessed with following him around and spying . . . which gets repetitive. In the movie we witness all of Draco's angst and conflict as he carries out the Dark Lord's commands. He does a great job and it helps add weight and tension to the movie.

I did feel a bit let down by the ending. I can't put my finger on it, but somehow it lacks sufficient weight. And there are always the things that get left out. More Lupin and Tonks! And although Ginny emerges a lot in this movie, I still don't think they bring her out enough. She's such a fabulous character in the books. She deserves more, particularly given her relationship with Harry.

But on the whole, I really enjoyed this movie and am very much looking forward to seeing it again. Maybe even in 3D!!

Saturday, 11 July 2009


Technology is amazing. This evening I have spoken via Skype to my niece in Bonn, Germany, and my parents in Katherine, NT. At the same time I have been watching Ashes cricket in Cardiff, and monitoring the antics of various friends in all different parts of the world via facebook.

This allowed me to tell my father the cricket score (to his frustration his TV wasn't working and he hadn't figured out online radio streaming yet), and fill him in when North got his century and Haddin his 50. I also found myself holding my web cam up to the TV so my brother in law in Bonn could see the cricket. OK, so it was only for 10 seconds, but . . .

It's incredible that I can sit physically alone in my living room, yet be surrounded by so much company!

As I said, Technology is amazing.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Chapter one revisited

In the end I abandoned WriMoFoFo in favour of working on my synopsis. This I have rewritten and I hope it is better. It is now with the group for review, so will be interesting to see what people think.

Now I am taking another look at my first chapter, also in preparation for submission to the Hachette Australia manuscript development workshop. I received feedback on this last year from the group, with pretty much everybody agreeing that I needed to revise the opening to ensure I begin with ACTION. It's amazing how one can be so blind to obvious flaws. Reading my opening now, I can see that of course it is dull and slow. I begin with description and backstory. How utterly stupid is that?!

So this week I am rewriting the opening few pages at least. The plan is to keep events the same, but start in a different place. I may end up revising the entire chapter, so long as it ends in the same place, because I really do NOT want to rewrite the follow-on chapter! I need to submit approximately five chapters (50 pages) and don't have time or inclination to revise them all. Hopefully a big effort on chapter one will be sufficient.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Movie: Transformers 2

I snuck in a movie this week, but although Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was entertaining enough it was pretty forgettable. I must admit I had been warned, but the first Transformers movie was rather good, I thought.

Anyway, the sequel got all too far-fetched and ridiculous, with special effects taking precedence over storytelling. I found the action sequences all too fast-paced, so that I couldn't really see what was happening. And it was nigh on impossible to distinguish friend from foe most of the time. Nor did I care much about the outcome of any of the battles. I do recall feeling frustrated because the characters kept on falling over instead of getting where they wanted to go.

Having said that, Megan Fox is stunning all through, and John Tuturro is both funny and poignant. It's not all bad. There are some lovely scenes in Egypt, and some tremendous shots of an evil decepticon dismantling an ancient pyramid! (Although I have to say the writers' use of well-known ancient architectural wonders such as Petra and the pyramids rather lame and disappointing.)

Enough said.