There’s a tagline on the front cover of this book that says, “This is a story of right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same.” It could more accurately and easily have read, “This is a story of selfishness and how sometimes people don’t care what’s right if it gets in the way of their own happiness.”
As a follow-up to my Wednesday blog post about writing competitions, here is a short story (or more accurately, a short scene) I wrote back in 2000 for a Mills & Boon competition.
It’s not exactly embarrassing but I think there is an obvious subtext that I wasn’t ready to be published yet (i.e. a young author asks a mentor for help, albeit in a Mills & Boon context).
Try not to laugh too much.
In my entire life, I’ve entered four writing competitions. They were:
*The 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript
*The 2015 Griffith Review’s Novella Project III Competition
*The 2015 Hardie Grant Egmont Ampersand Project
*A 2000 Mills & Boon short story competition
It should be obvious to anyone reading this that I didn’t win any of them or you would have heard about it by now. You would have heard a lot about it!
After I submitted to the Hardie Grant Egmont Ampersand Project, I wrote a blog idea on my ideas board about competitions. Specifically that writers entering competitions shouldn’t get dejected when they don’t win. And here’s a few reasons why that hopefully make all of us “losers” feel a little bit better.
Reading this book is a bit of a divergence for me as I’m an almost exclusive fiction reader but I saw it in the book store after coincidentally catching a Writers in the Rotunda program on TV (a Victoria University series of conversations with writers) where Helen Garner was talking about the five-year process of writing it.
In the end it turned out not to be such a big change because it is written in a novelistic tone. I think they call it creative non-fiction. It’s not simply a group of facts set out in a straightforward manner – the story being told prevents that.
The ultimate question in adaptation is whether something that is successful in one medium can be as successful in another. And there is no way of ever knowing the answer without going through the process.
There is no formula. There is no reasoning. It all comes down to chance with a lot of skill on the side. And sometimes it can come down to chance with no skill on the side at all. There are numerous examples of great films adapted from great source material, terrible films adapted from great source material, great films adapted from terrible source material and terrible films adapted from terrible source material. Sometimes the novelists themselves are great at adapting their own books. Sometimes the adaptation needs the touch of someone who can step away from the book a little. So what is the key to a great adaptation?
In a couple of places now, I’ve seen authors asking for suggestions on how to get readers to leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and other book sales platforms. People seem happy to buy and read their books but often feel they don’t have the skills to write a book review that would be useful to either other potential readers or the author.
So next time one of your readers umms and ahhs about posting a review of your book, send them a link to this blog post. I’ve broken it down into a few areas that hopefully make it a lot less scary and hopefully resulting in a lot more reviews. (Of course, I can’t guarantee the reviews will be positive though – that’s entirely up to the quality of your book.)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is probably the most original and creative novel I have ever read. It is told in the first person by fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, who has Asperger’s (or if you keep up with medical bureaucracy, which says this condition no longer exists, he is on the autism spectrum).
The opening chapter finds Christopher in his neighbour’s front yard in the middle of the night discovering the body of a dead dog. Not just a dead dog. A murdered dog. A dog with a large garden fork sticking out of it. Christopher is sad – or as he describes it – sad face (actual picture of a sad face). He yanks out the garden fork and is hugging the bleeding corpse when the dog’s owner comes out demanding to know what he has done to the dog.
But he didn’t kill it, which he tells her, and we know he’s telling the truth because he can’t lie, according to him. He decides he will find out who killed the dog so that the perpetrator can be punished.