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The Set-up Is Easy

5 March, 2014

Matt le Tissier is the best Saints player I’ve ever seen, he scored 209 goals for us and this classic free kick is among my top five:



The set-up is easy. Jim Magilton rolls it back to him – anyone can do that. Le Tiss flicks it up and belts it over the defensive wall – tricky, but you’d probably manage it about 50% of the time. The ball then dips just under the bar into the top corner where no keeper would reach it – THAT is the work of true genius.

I’m reading back my WIP at the moment, and for the first third of the book I was feeling very smug, satisfied that my work was pretty damn good. But as I have gone further – I am almost two thirds of the way in now – that confidence is slipping. I am noticing continuity errors and inconsistencies, which you could say are just technicalities and are easily fixed once they’ve been spotted, but I’m also having bigger, wider doubts. Are the characters’ actions believable? Am I trying to juggle too many subplots and losing sight of the main narrative? Is the characterisation consistent? As I move towards the final third – the exposition and conclusion – will the reader feel the sense of climax? Will they have sympathy for the main character who although not terribly likeable is still a victim of sorts? Are the subplots concluded or are they left hanging? Well, you get the idea…

That’s what read-throughs and re-drafts are for, of course, to find out the book’s weaknesses and address them. As I was writing the thing I knew it was getting more difficult the further I went in, and as I read it back now I can see the quality of the writing has suffered as I approach the end. And maybe this is why there are so many writers who have a drawer full of Chapter Ones.

The set up is easy. Anyone can write a decent Chapter One, anyone can be Jim Magilton. Fewer writers, but still a decent number, can develop the idea and have an vision of how it would be a novel, can flick the ball up and belt it. In virtually every case though, the ball sails embarrassingly into the crowd. Only the most gifted, and who also put in the hours of practice, practice, practice, can bring that novel to life and fulfill that vision, can dip it under the bar for one of the most famous goals of the last twenty years.

I am not Matt Le Tissier, there is only one. I am not PG Wodehouse, I am not Douglas Adams, I am not Cervantes, I am not Martin Amis… they were all unique talents.

But I continue to write, I continue to work at my craft and see where it leads me. You can’t score a goal, even a lucky two yard bounce-off-the-arse without being on the pitch.

From → Blogging, My Head, Writing

  1. sports and me are meh but I loves you ❤

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