A New Enid Blyton…..

Enid Blyton.

I’m fairly certain that every child in the UK or Australia has read at least some of her works.  Apparently she was an author of some repute throughout the Commonwealth, but I hesitate to say for sure in Canada (nothing about this new country of mine is quite the same….) but with books translated into 90 different languages, you would be forgiven for thinking that almost the entire world has read at least one Blyton book in their younger days: The Magic Faraway Tree anyone?

My special love was the series ‘Famous Five’.  When I was younger I was crazy about them, and any time Mum went into the city for the day she would come home having visited the book shop with a new book or two (sometimes three!) for me to add to my collection. Sadly the books  are all back home in Australia right now, and I will either have to ship them out for Bronwen (or more likely if I’m still in Canada get them on e-reader) when the time is right so that I can share a part of my literary heritage with her.

Blyton wrote almost 800 books over the course of a 40 year career (take that Nora Roberts,) is apparently the fifth most translated author in the world and there are at least 600 million copies of her books scattered around the globe. *phew*

So one can  imagine the shock  someone had when they initially discovered in a pile of old manuscripts  an unpublished story  after buying the box of manuscripts at auction. Imagine that amongst the drafts of Famous Five, Secret Seven, Noddy and Malory Towers, a new story….a  Mr Tumpy’s Caravan  suddenly came to your attention.  Quite possibly an early attempt at a novel….  just … imagine.

One cant help but wonder, will the publishing house that bought the box of manuscripts publish the book now for old times sake, or the money making potential that is undoubtedly has with Blyton devotees - even if the story is really poorly written?  Think Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl” series and the reputed forth novel he was writing before his death, the debate over that being published one day or not, according to who wins out in the Swedish courts over the rights to his property.  Anything is possible.

Write a Draft in a Month?

30_Days book cover

I’m really very proud of the fact after years of procrastination and doubt, I got my first rough draft done before my official deadline of December 31st. But that still means that I was working on the draft for a full nine months (talk about it being my baby!) And people like Nora Roberts seem to churn out new books every six months or so, which got me wondering: how?

How does Nora get her ideas, transfer them to paper, write, revise, adjust, and get through the official editing process so quickly?  I’ve read that she is a much disciplined writer, spending eight hours a day in her office writing, which would be helpful.  And I would love to be able to write at such a speed and for such extended periods of time in the day. Of course, I don’t think Nora Roberts wrote so prolifically when she had young children (although I truly have no idea as I haven’t followed her career all that long) and until Bronwen is in school full time and has the ability to understand what “Pleeeeeeease… leave me alone” really means when Mummah is sitting at her writing desk, I’m not going to be getting eight hour writing days anytime soon.

But I do have a book on my bookshelf that suggests it’s possible to pull a first draft together in 30 days. I’m only glancing through the introduction where is fully exposes that really, the first draft is actually a very detailed outline that is about a quarter of the whole books length, but that according to the author, having completed such a detailed outline means that writing the missing bits will be easy.

I like the idea of having such a complete outline in a month. I’ve used an outline for my first novel (that is still –  *STILL* nameless!) and found it really helpful to make sure  correct seasons were described at the right time of the year and that the flow of the story happened over the same passage of time. There is nothing worse than an author who writes about a winter Christmas in Australia for one character and how delightful dying Easter eggs is in what would be August for another! Details people – details. I like the idea of being so clear about what will happen in the story that you can see the strengths and weakness’ at a glance, making revision somewhat easier.

So I’m going to read the book this week and see if I can start learning the art of  the whole ‘outline/draft in a month’ skill set. Because the idea of whipping out books at such a speed sounds like a wonderful thing to impress an agent or publisher with – don’t you think?

First Draft in 30 days; a novel writers system for building a complete and cohesive manuscript.

Karen S. Wiesner, Writers Digest Books, 2005

ISBN: 13: 978-1-58297-296-1

ISBN: 10: 1-58297-296-6

PS.

There are 137 (!!) copies of Twilight in the Ottawa library. I’m number 30 on the waiting list but the notice says it’s in transit which means I will get it in about two weeks (this Friday is New Years Day, so no library time). Reviews from other readers on the library website either love it or hate it. Wonder what camp I will fall into?