Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Is A Bloomsbury? Guest Post by Writer Friend

Writer Friend has agreed to drop by today to share with us the pain of finding a Bloomsbury in your book. You may remember Writer Friend from Amsterdam or from my posts on beta-reading. Writer Friend is editing the final instalment of an utterly excellent rural fantasy trilogy set in Scotland, which I trust you'll all get to read inside proper covers someday - Ellen

I tend to go off on tangents a lot (so if anything in this seems tangential, just skip down until it starts to make sense again), and I also find it quite hard to see these tangents as I write. Particularly, as I have discovered, with the trilogy I am currently working on. After I had finished writing it, I laid down my pen and handed it to Ellen to read. She read it, enjoyed it and came back to me with many positive comments. But one of the first was ‘I like Ms. Bloomsbury. Why is she there?’ 

I said ‘Because…!’ And I paused, marshalled my thoughts and said ‘Because…!’ Ellen looked at me eagerly, waiting for this surely breathtaking explanation. I took a deep breath and said ‘Because…!’ then mumbled something. Ellen looked perplexed and said ‘Sorry, what?’ 
I repeated myself: ‘I don’t exactly know.’ 
And I didn’t. I had, half way through the first book of three, come up with a character I could really get a feel for and just pitched her in, headfirst. Unfortunately, I pitched her into a totally separate story that really couldn’t squeeze around to accommodate her.

As Ellen and I read on, we both realised that this was not unusual for me. In each of the other books, this situation had arisen at least once. We gave it some thought, and came to the conclusion that it happens more regularly than you might think (this is to reassure us both on those dark nights where you end up looking at your screen in bafflement and wondering if perhaps you took a heap of drugs and have completely forgotten the experience). 

Just picture it –you’re holed up in your room, writing frantically and you feel like you’re on fire…the ideas are pouring in, you can’t contain yourself and you certainly can’t write fast enough to encompass all of them. They just keep on coming, names and faces…places that don’t exist and places that do and all you can do is let it happen and do what you can to record it. 

And then you get what I have decided to call a Bloomsbury. A full-blown character or a storyline that may be both appealing and believable, but have sadly taken a wrong turning from some other potential novel in your head. And removing them hurts, it feels like you are somehow killing them or sending them back to some dungeon dimension until the time when you may – and its only a may – have a place for them.

Charlaine Harris has a book called A Touch of Dead which consists of several short adventures involving her character, Sookie Stackhouse. None of these adventures have made it into her best-selling Southern Vampire series, and I cherish the hope that they are, in fact, Bloomsburies (in this case, the storyline kind rather than the character kind) and that Ms. Harris has managed to let them see the light of day. 

It gives me hope, anyway, that poor Ms. Henrietta Bloomsbury will not be consigned to the scrap heap of my desk forever more. I am endeavouring to keep future Bloomsburies in a seperare notebook, to be reviewed at leisure as a potential cure for writers’ block. But that sounds far too organised to be realistic. I’m sure, when ideas strike me at half eleven at night, I will be much too concerned about just getting them down somewhere to go looking for the lovely notebook I bought just for that purpose. But that’s a thought: as an excuse to buy stationary, Bloomsburies could be top of the list!


  1. Interesting. I can actually think of several projects where I've included a character or plot that I love to this day, but just can't find a place for them just yet.

  2. I too suffer from Bloomsburyitis! Never have one of the dozen pretty notebooks on hand when I have one of these mind blowing ideas! HeyHo!

  3. For a minute there I thought you'd found Virginia Woolf, a London neighborhood or a major publishing imprint in your book...
    Interesting post. I know I've done that, too.


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