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Andrew's horror novella, 'The Bathtub', is now available.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Six (Yes, SIX!) Computer Screens

A written obituary to genius Sir Terry Pratchett (RIP) shows him at his desk.  What stood out to me was that he worked with six (yes, SIX!) different computer screens, in two rows of three in front of him.

A while ago I invested in the biggest wide screen monitor my budget would allow, so I can have two pages of my current chapter open alongside the novel’s Excel ‘Mastersheet’.  But, I’m struggling to see the use I would get from six (yes, SIX!) screens – even if I could fit them on my desk (below).  I do appreciate that Sir Terry was professional and wrote books in series which gives more need for record keeping, but even so I’m struggling.


It did get me thinking, though, and into discussion with the household’s non-writers.  If I had the space, budget, and inclination for six (yes, SIX!) computer screens, what would I use them all for?  Here are my thoughts, and I’d be interested in suggestions from other writers.

  • The document I’m currently working on, straight ahead and in front of me, which probably goes without saying.  For me, that will be the current chapter of the novel I’m drafting;
  • My ‘Master Spreadsheet’.  I have an Excel file for each novel with a summary of each chapter and links to each key document such as my character list, and other documents I need for the story, for example who is wearing what in each chapter, or who has what in their pockets or rucksack etc;
  • Character sheet.  Depending on the complexity and number of characters this can be a Word document of a couple of pages in total briefly outlining each character, to a multi-page spreadsheet with thirty or forty lines of information on each character – looks, age, relationships, religion, phobias, background and the like.  Maybe I would make use of this on screen - at the moment they’re run off on hardcopy for ease of reference, but I keep changing or adding to them as I find out more about the characters;
  • Story summary.  I have a brief outline with a couple of paragraphs for each chapter, to remind me what needs to happen when and tends to be rewritten several times as I go along;
  • Internet.  Sometimes I need a bit of factual information – what flowers bloom in early spring in north Wales, for example – and Wikipedia and similar sites are my friend (and yes, I do know the pitfalls of such sites!);
  • I can’t think of what I’d use a sixth screen for!  (Maybe, if I was more inclined, social media, which writers seem to live by these days?)  But, Pratchett probably had a lot more information than me to keep track of.  And, of course, I can’t argue with a genius!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Meet the Characters –‘The Well’

The Well’ has been around for a while - it hit the world in 2012. 

Well SmallIt’s a story I’m very pleased with; I was particularly happy with the story’s four main characters.  For those of you who haven’t read it (and a reminder for those of you who have), it’s about a beautiful heiress who wakes from a drugged sleep at the bottom of a dried-up well in the American desert. 


Here’s a brief resume of who’s who:

Constance ‘Connie’ Straker

Connie Straker is an outstandingly beautiful college student.  She is also the daughter of a millionaire burger chain owner.  Connie has an apparent self-confidence and maturity that some might describe as ‘feisty’.  That is just a front, though, to cover some of the typical hang-ups of early adulthood – concerns about her looks, whether she is only popular for her money, and so on.  She has phobias of heights and dark, enclosed spaces.

Connie’s constant companion and ‘best friend’ is ‘Pocca,’ a battered key ring in the shape of Pocahontas. 

Julian ‘Spongehead’ Atkinson

Julian knows he isn’t cool.  He accepts that with his acne, mop of curly hair (hence the nickname ‘Spongehead’), and poor social skills, he will never win a popularity contest.  He usually takes the bullying on the chin, but his bitterness sometimes boils under the surface to give the potential for instability.

Julian has always had a thing for Connie, and used to cast her furtive glances at school.  His affection wasn’t returned.

Malcolm ‘Mal’ Maloney

The older of two brothers.  He thinks of himself as the brains of the two, but what he likes to think of as intelligence is in reality a mixture of single-mindedness and bullying.  He is reasonably good looking, but living the life of a bum in a desert shack with his brother keeps romantic opportunities to a minimum.

Mal has a grudge against Connie’s family, which forms the basis of ‘The Well’.

Jed Mahoney

Mal’s younger brother.  He isn’t bright, and is overweight.  He relies in his brother to organise his life, and in return is loyal to Mal.  He doesn’t mind his shortcomings because he is content with life, as long as he has his brother to look after him.

‘The Well’ is available on Amazon.