Monday, 4 July 2016

On re-writing by Carys Bray - The Museum of You Blog Tour author guest post

It's my stop on the blog tour for The Museum of You by Carys Bray. I'm delighted to welcome Carys to my blog today. The Museum of You was published by Hutchinson on 16 June 2016.

On re-writing
by Carys Bray

I am a really slow writer. I try not to look at other people’s #amwriting word counts on Twitter because they make me feel inadequate. If I manage 1,000 words a day I feel like I’m doing well. I edit as I write, which can slow things down but it also means that I’m largely happy with what exists at the end of the first draft. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of trimming and rearranging of sentences and paragraphs – there is, but at least what I have is novel-shaped.

I know how my novels will open and close before I start writing, and I think that has helped me to avoid massive, structural edits (so far!). In the beginning, I make notes. I find it easier to be slapdash in a notebook. Plus, I can leave the notebook by the side of my bed for when I think I’ve had an amazing idea in the middle of the night (mostly, the ideas aren’t amazing and tend to be incomprehensible by morning).

In The Museum of You, 12 year old Clover Quinn likes to watch The Great British Bake Off. Although she and her Dad, Darren, don’t do much baking, Darren makes an attempt to join in with the programme each week. Here are some notes I made for a scene about a biscuit showstopper:
When I transferred the scene to my laptop I filled it out a little. Then I read it aloud. Hearing the words sometimes makes me realise that I’ve repeated myself or expressed something in a convoluted way. A passage has its own particular music which can be spoiled by a sentence that is overly long or short. Reading aloud is also good for dialogue. If a section of dialogue is hard to read aloud, perhaps it needs further work.

Here’s how the scene with Darren and the biscuits appears in the novel:

And that’s how I write and rewrite: a rough outline, a more detailed attempt, some reading aloud and then some trimming and rearranging. Eventually, I end up with around 90,000 trimmed and rearranged words, and then it’s time to go back to the beginning for more of the same.

Of course, I’ve only written two novels and I don’t know whether I’ll necessarily be able to approach a third novel in the same way, but that’s part of the fun and the terror of beginning again, with a blank notebook and an empty Word document.

About Carys Bray
Carys Bray's debut collection Sweet Home won the Scott prize and selected stories were broadcast on BBC Radio Four Extra. Her first novel A Song for Issy Bradley was serialised on BBC Radio Four's Book at Bedtime and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, the Association of Mormon Letters Awards, the Waverton Good Read Award, the 15 Bytes Book Awards and the Desmond Elliott Prize. It won the Utah Book Award and the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and was selected for the 2015 Richard and Judy Summer Book Club. 

Carys has a BA in Literature from The Open University and an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Edge Hill University. Her second novel The Museum of You will be published in June 2016. She is working on a third novel. 

Readers can find out more about Carys on her website and Facebook page and follow Carys on Twitter - @CarysBray

The Museum of You
By Carys Bray
Published by Hutchinson (16 June 2016)
ISBN: 978-0091959609

Publisher's description
Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He's studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want - everything he can think of, at least - to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother's belongings. Volume isn't important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you're searching for.

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