Thursday, 24 November 2011

Double Dexter

A new experience today – writing this on the train home to see my family. Currently passing lovely, bright green, rolling hills covered in tress and the occasional little farm house. 

Right – to the blog post:

Another book from the wonderful people at Doubleday. This is one of the more popular books I’ve reviewed as it is the latest in the Dexter series, Double Dexter. Let’s start with the cover, shall we? It promises to be “an all-new Dexter case you won’t see on TV” – surely a thrill for fans of the series and a sure-fire motive for them to grab a copy. It was released on 18th October, with little hype, but a strong fan-base nonetheless. I had high hopes, having heard so much about the series (some of you will be horrified to find that the first Dexter book I have read is the latest one, and I haven’t even caught an episode on TV) so as soon as I could I delved in to find out what the fuss was all about. 

It was an easy read, I probably read the 322 pages that my proof-copy offered in about six hours. I generally enjoyed the plot, too. However, as I read, the niggles piled up and I wished I hadn’t set my expectations quite so high. I was expected something complex, that would leave me wondering after each chapter, what was going to happen next? Who was the Shadow? It was, unfortunately, rather predictable, and I prefer more of a puzzle in my crime fiction, a few unexpected twists and turns. On top of its predictability was a hefty dose of repetition, which certainly wasn’t a helpful factor when it was quite obvious what was going to happen. It occasionally made the reading experience quite dull and I found myself skipping over whole paragraphs in search of something new. Even the simplest narrative techniques were exaggerated to make it obvious what was going to happen. Lindsay’s use of foreshadowing, for example, leaves a lot to be desired – rather than hinting at future events, it more shoves it in your face so that you cannot pretend you don’t know what’s coming. 

This said, I still sat for several hours straight and finished the book, and I had enjoyed what I’d read. If you want an easy crime fiction read, this would certainly be the kind of thing you were looking for. It is entertaining, the lovable rogue that is Dexter is a brilliant narrator, and Lindsay’s descriptions are fantastic. I have a feeling I might be tracking down the first book – maybe now that my expectations have been set straight, I might not find it so niggly.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

National Novel Writing Month

I thought I take this fortnight's blog and write about a crazy little thing I'm doing called national Novel Writing Month. Of course, many of you have heard of it, but there are a surprising amount of people who don't know anything about it. I believe it is my duty as a NaNoWriMo participant to inform you all about this wonderful event.

Remember my first blog post on Erin Morgernstern's The Night Circus? The bestselling debut hit started life as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2005 (Read Erin's pep-talk on the writing of The Night Circus) and so did around ninety other novels! Amazing, right?

So I can see you wondering: what is NaNoWriMo exactly? Well, NaNoWriMo is an exciting opportunity to kick start your novel with the support of millions of other NaNo participants the world over! Writing is a solitary business, made a lot easier with the support of others in the same boat - in November there are a heck of a lot of people in that boat with you, so much so that the boat has probably become the size of the world's biggest cruiser-liner. But on the cruise-liner, there's not much time for lounging by the pool or playing games or watching the crew's entertainment evenings (dodgy cabarets and wanna-be musicians), but there are paper and pens everywhere and plug sockets so that your laptops and netbooks don't run out of juice, and a stash of USB sticks and a wireless internet connection so that once every seven days you can back up your precious words. There are also challenges and games to get your wordcount higher, enabling social interaction while still novelling! Did I mention the target is 50,000 words? Come back! Don't run away! It's fun!

At the moment, Day 10, we are a third of the way through - but it's no too late to join in! Numerous NaNo participants are joining as the days go on. In fact, there are many and various ways to catch up with those of us who have been writing since day one. My favourite so far is in memory of our heroes of WWII: The 11-11-11 11th Hour Challenge. Within the same forum, you will also find invitations to word wars and other fun word-count-boosting social activities. And speaking of social activities! You will also find that the majority of areas around the world have their own NaNo Regions. These are run by wonderful people who take on the role of Municipal Liaison. Both in real life and in the virtual world, these people offer advice, encouragement and social activities such as the Kick-Offs, Write-Ins (both IRL and virtual) and the Thank-God-It's-Over parties. They also run regional chatrooms for word wars and sprints; often regions war against each other for the highest collective word count! So if you're feeling competitive, it's a great place to be. And finally, there's the wonderful world of Twitter. Throughout November, there are numerous challenges run on @NaNoWordSprints by MLs all over the world which give you timed challenges to write as much as you can, alongside little prompts and challenges such as words or situations to get into your writing. If all else fails, trawl through the forums for interesting threads and be inspired! As you can see, you are not left on your own to complete this month-long challenge, help is around every corner!

What I'm saying is... I'd like to invite you all on a whirl-wind adventure into the land of novel-writing for the next twenty days. What do you say?