This month I’d like to offer a quick checklist for your short story or novel. And if you’re not a writer but a reader and a book group member this may also help you to find points to discuss.
- Is the ending satisfying? Hopefully it’s not too melodramatic. Nor is it a damp squib. And a deus ex machina has not been applied. No god is swept on to the stage to solve everything, either literally or figuratively.
- Has the main character changed? Are they different at the end of the story from the way they are at the beginning?
- Are the other characters also believable and rounded? Neither completely good nor completely evil?
- Is there a good narrative balance – the right amount of dialogue, action, description and inner monologue? Does any exposition have to be there? The balance of these elements will vary from text to text and may depend on genre. It’s a talking point anyway.
- Is the reader allowed to think for themselves or is the writer telling them what to think? The writer should show you what happens and leave the reader to decide if there is any moral.
Happy reading and writing.
I’m continuing the sixth book in the Schellberg Cycle. This is Helga’s story. Helga is a Holocaust survivor and the story is set partly in World War II and partly in 2001. The more modern part is set in North Wales and I have to learn about sheep farming! The story is as ever taking on a life of its own and the plot is even more intricate than the way I’d seen it. Actually this time this is happening more than normal. A while ago I decided to make the part set in World War II a first person narrative so at some point I’ll have to go back and alter earlier chapters. Half way through Chapter 23, I decided that the 21st century part should also be a first person narrative and this time also present tense. I can already see that it’s making a difference. But there’ll be a lot of extra work soon. I am now almost at the end of the last chapter.
I’m very pleased to have had my short story Forever Hold Your Peace accepted by Page & Spine. You can see it here: https://pagespineficshowcase.com/stories1/forever-hold-your-peace-gill-james . I submitted this almost two years ago. Doesn’t that show you should never give up? I wrote the story in response to a prompt form one of our prompt books. That makes it a double success.
The Young Person’s Library
This month I’ve added:
The Secret of Haven Point by Lisettte Auton
This is a fluent reader text and includes several characters that have disabilities. Author Lisette Auton also lives with a disability and prefers to describe herself as disabled. The novel tells a very human story though includes mermaids and wreckers.
Noel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories
This is another fluent reader text. There are plenty of ballet shoes, skates and theatre performances in these stories. This is a compilation of Noel Streatfeild’s Christmas-themed earlier works that appeared in various magazines. There’s lots of nostalgia here.
Current reading recommendation
I’m recommending today Meeting Coty by Ruth Estevez
I really enjoyed attending the launch of this book at the lovely Portico Library in Manchester. Ruth gave us a fascinating talk which included some of the history of the Coty firm.
Tessa Garcia has big dreams and takes steps to make them come true.
Tessa faces many expectations from her Spanish-Irish Catholic family; that she should marry, that she shouldn’t work, and that she should be dependent on men all of her life. She already has a work ethos and an enthusiasm for perfumes. This arouses in her a fascination with the perfume maker François Coty.
Estevez presents us with a narrative as smooths as silk in this fascinating story of Meeting Coty.
Find your copy here.
Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle. Occasionally there are PDFs.
This month I’m offering Fibbin’ Archie.
This is at once a YA light-hearted romance and a writing experiment. If you read the title out loud you may get a hint of what the experiment’s about.
Love and romance can be tough for a
Archie has quite a reputation as a practised fibber. Normally his lies are harmless but as time goes by they begin to get him into more and more trouble. They lose him his girlfriend, and bizarrely, his hearing is affected as his ears begin to react in a very strange way every time he is less than truthful. Giving honest opinions isn’t enough. Deep truth is called for. But finding that isn’t easy. Some truths are very hard to face. Then numbers become interesting, too.
Fibbin’ Archie is, the story of a disenchanted young man. It is also a humorous story of love and sex, an examination of social issues affecting young adults and a story of coming of age.
Find out more. Grab your copy and lots of other freebies here.
And please, please, please leave a review when you’ve finished.
Note: Normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £0.99 to £10.99. Most on Kindle are about £2.99 and the average price for paperback is £7.00. Writers have to make a living. But I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.
The Schellberg Project
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust. They may also be interesting for other readers of historical fiction.
Sometimes I also write about what might be of interest to other writers.
I’ve added three posts this month.
Two of them are about The Bamboo Bracelet by Merilyn Brason. The post on 7 April is about an online talk I attended about how the book came to be written. The post on 30 April is an analysis of the book itself. This work certainly deserves a place in the project because although it is about a very different part of World War II many of the experiences and issues described are so similar.
Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda? is a post in which I seek to see both sides of the argument but still conclude that this would be a bad idea.
Some notes about my newsletters and blogs
They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.
Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprints. News for writers. Links to book performance. Sign up here.
The Bridgetown Café Bookshop where you can buy my book and books published by Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, Chapeltown Books and The Red Telephone. Visit us here.
Chapeltown Books News about our books. Sign up here.
The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer. Sign up here.
Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits and Events. Book recommendations and giveaways. Find it here.
Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.
Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.
A Publisher’s Perspective Here I and some other editors blog as a publisher. Access this here.
The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.
CaféLit Stories Find these here
Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.
Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head and a reminder of the ones I’ve highlighted in this newsletter.
Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.
The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.
Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing. Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.
Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here.
The Young Person’s Library The children’s book catalogue. Access it here.
Fair Submissions Find it here.
Opportunities for writers are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.
Happy reading and writing.
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