The Writing Journal #38

What a weekend it’s been! Anyone who’s a fan of sport (and, I’d wager, quite a few who aren’t as well) would have been blown away by the quite phenomenal performances on display across a number of sports around the UK yesterday. Lewis Hamilton outright breaking the record for the most wins at Silverstone; Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic battling out a gladiatorial final at Wimbledon; and then THAT final at Lords that saw England win their first ICC Cricket World Cup! It was exhausting just channel hopping to keep up with all, let alone competing in one of the events themselves! A huge congratulations must go out to everyone, winners and runners-up, who all contributed to what was an outstanding day of sport on all levels.

What struck me about the cricket in particular was how, on many occasions, the match turned out to be stranger than fiction. The fluke fielding that saw two runs become six. A backwards step on the boundary that may well have turned out to be the difference between victory and defeat. A final ball (before the Super Over, at least) where there could have been three distinct outcomes. And even, after all that, for it to still come down to an all-or-nothing final ball was, dramatically speaking, unbelievable. If I was to take that story, unaltered in its beats, and pitch it to any company around the world, I would no doubt be told that circumstances like that simply don’t happen in the real world and that I would have to make it more believable. And yet, there it was, in front of our very eyes for the whole world to see in an exhilarating, heart-palpitating rush of adrenaline.

As writers, it could be quite easy to take offence at such a spectacle – how is any fictional story we write ever going to be able to generate those same thrills and spills that come from such an unbelievable game?! On the other hand, it could actually have done us all a favour in reminding our audiences (both at the consumer level and the production level) that anything truly is possible in life, as long as it takes place within the rules. All of the events described above were highly improbable, and would have come with ridiculous odds, but they weren’t impossible within the boundaries (pun intended) of the game. Stories, from thrillers to horrors via sci-fi fantasy, are built on their own set of rules, much like a sporting match, and whilst things may seem outrageously improbable, there is always a chance they can happen so long as the rules allow it. As dramatists, it is within our powers to set those rules for our individual stories, and whilst there is a fine line between “unbelievable” and “contrived” that real world scenarios don’t have to worry about, sporting occasions like yesterday are a welcome reminder that as long as something is possible, it can happen. Whether you’re an ardent cricket fan or someone who couldn’t care less about the sport, as writers we should be incredibly grateful to Ben Stokes et al for such a thrilling and captivating dramatic reminder.

Target Number 1: Spend a minimum of 20 hours editing my novel.

The past week has been quite a busy one on the other side of the targets (more on that to follow), which has meant the novel has been set to simmer on the backburner. The current time tally stands at 7hrs 8mins, meaning less than two hours were added to last weeks total. Overall, it was a necessary cutback – after all, there are only so many hours in the day – and there is still plenty of time for the hours to be made back in the latter half of the month once the bookcast has calmed down a little.

Target Number 2: Launch my audiobook/podcast.

My primary focus this week was to record three of the six stories that will make up the bookcast series. After a few tweaks, the three stories were ready for recording, and on Thursday I was able to not only get each of them recorded, but also get a couple of different versions to be able to experiment with them in the editing phase. I tinkered with editing the first story the following day, and I can honestly say that I’m delighted with the results. There were some initial doubts about the recordings themselves, given that it’s something new and, let’s be honest, no-one likes listening back to their own voice on tape, but so far, so good and a very successful start on the audiobook front.

My ideal plan is to push on with the recordings and have them all wrapped before the summer holidays, so that I only have to edit them before release, but this may prove slightly trickier as the remaining stories are not as polished as those recorded last week. One requires a little work, one a major edit, whilst the last one isn’t even completely written yet! To do all this before the end of the week could be a challenge too far, but, as yesterday proved, anything is possible.

Things to press on with this week then, and a clear target in sight. A welcome change from the drift that was starting to set it, with some hopefully very exciting times ahead…

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