Some discussion on The Forum Formerly Known as Outpost Gallifrey about 'the Challenge'.
The 'challenge' is, as I say there, the challenge I faced, writing the book. If people want to try taking on the challenge, please feel free. But I'm not asking people to write a whole novel in six months.
It would be a fun exercise for people reading this to try writing the 1000 word synopsis now, though. Better still, when this blog ends on Boxing Day, it might be fun to try again. Hopefully you'll do a much better job second time around because of all the wonderful things you've learned.
I think a week to ten days is a perfectly sensible timescale for those 1000 words. So ... if you're going to try, try getting it finished sometime next week.
Now ... what I've done here is lay out the guidelines I was given. There were no sealed orders to be kept away from the eyes of muggles or whatever. You've been told what I was told.
I already know what most people will get wrong. The guidelines are very simple, but people will ignore one or more of them. I've said, for the purpose of the exercise, that you use Donna as a companion. Someone, somewhere has decided they don't like Donna, so they'll use Martha. Well ... send that into Justin, he'd reject it out of hand. Or, if he was feeling kind, ask you to rewrite it for Donna. Someone's decided that they're doing it for fun, so they've put the Daleks in it ... well, again, instant rejection. Or, if the idea's great, a very swift email saying 'try doing the same story, but with new monsters'. If it was a good Dalek story, that should be almost impossible.
The rules are transparent. The things I set out in The Challenge post are the non-negotiables. If you find yourself negotiating with them, you're doing something wrong.
Writing a novel isn't a thought experiment. It's a series of concrete choices. You decide to do one thing, not to do ten others. The end result isn't a vague set of ideas about what your story should be, it's the story.
Which is great ... because the great enemy of the writer is the idea that writing is what you are, not what you do. You wouldn't call yourself a plumber if you had vague ambitions one day to do some plumbing. You're a writer if you write.
These days, it's never been easier to be a writer. Hell, I'm being a writer just now by typing away. Here's my gift to everyone here: reply to this post and become a published writer. Assuming I don't moderate the comment, so try not to libel any comics creators.
What's more difficult is to be read.
Over at www.despair.com there's a great T-Shirt reading 'More People Have Read This Shirt Than Your Blog'. It is probably true of most blogs. Oh, and they also sell this, http://www.despair.com/pessimistsmug.html,, which is great.
I'm hoping to offer some really useful tips to improve your writing and storytelling. But above all, I hope to be able to show that the real art is in being read.