Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Marchlands - and not cheating the reader/viewer

It is difficult enough for the reader/viewer to avoid confusion when a story flips to and from different time periods, but Marchlands (UK TV) pushed this further with three. The degree to which they interlocked was high and, on the whole, I think it was well done. The concluding episode last week drew in the different strands very well, but it did leave me with one big problem: a cheat. I hate cheats. My definition of a cheat is a scene within a book or drama that show us something that did not actually occur. Marchlands showed us more than one that Alice's grandfather was just innocently walking with her when she ran off, later to be drowned. The concluding episode showed us a completely different scenario, proving the earlier scene never happened (except in his lying head). Implication to throw people off the scent is fair enough in thrillers, but not cheats like this. Such a pity. Also, in the conclusion, I was pretty much unconvinced as to why Alice ended up in the water, let alone drowning. I expected more than an accident.

So far as writers are concerned, I believe it is fair play to misdirect readers - to make them think something misleading by implication (much as a conjuror does) - but a very unfair to describe something (even thoughts) that actually never happened. That is a cheat. I seem to remember Agatha Christie did it in the first book I ever read of hers and that rather put me off her for life, but novelists were still setting the ground rules then). I believe an author has a contract with a reader not to cheat - akin to lying - and I think that should be strictly opbserved. So, Marchlands gets my thumbs down for that cheat - although it kept me gripped. Such a pity after investing all that time.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Why I now spend time on Twitter

Before I began to use Twitter I imagined it would be a total waste of time. Indeed, if you read comments that truly answer the question 'What is happening?' as it suggests, it will be. Who wants to know if career-Mum is giving junior his toast? But many people just use it as a way of expressing wisdom, informing people about useful and interesting things, and so on. It is also a userful marketing platform. Personally I find its 140 character limit means you can make a worthwhile post with minimal interruption to your normal work. This constraint should work well for authors and it might even be a useful tool to help break writer's block: for which, just writing, is the best cure. Indeed, who is better suited than writers to be able to construct something interesting given these stringent constraints? It helps you to become concise.

When writing, I can get to a scene ending and then make a post. It is light relief. Why bother? Because it potentially brings you loads of followers and, as a writer, what more could you ask? In just under 2 months I have over 1,900 followers. I put in around 90 minutes a day. Okay, they don't all translate into sales but, given time, some may buy. Even if they don't, it is a good way for a writer to raise his/her profile. It is much more time consuming finding something worthwhile to post in a blog, which is why I now Twitter much more than I blog. Please check me out on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/authorkingsley

Don't just use Twitter as a sales tool, though. Okay, you can mention your book, or whatever you have to sell, but you need to regularly post content that is interesting in its own right as well or you will soon turn off potential followers. My best advice? Target/follow users in your niche. If you don't follow others they won't follow you. Good luck!