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Nick Earls p1

Brisbane author Nick Earls gives a list of some of his favorite books.

Nick Earls is the author of several novels including Zigzag Street, Bachelor Kisses and The Thompson Gunner. He gave me a list of some of his favorite books. He liked The Sports Writer by Richard Ford.
Monster in a Box by Spalding Gray was another favorite. It’s a monologue about the difficulties he faced writing his first novel, Impossible Vacation.
He also recommended Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, which is a book of short stories by Wells Tower.
And he liked Fidelty, a collection of stories by Canadian author Michael Redhill.
The Middle Stories by Sheila Heti was another favorite.

Here are a few points he made during his talk. When describing a room, or anything else, describe three or four things the character would notice. This tells something about the character.
He sometimes used a calendar to work out plots of his stories, and liked having the stories happen over the shortest time possible. One event in the story on a Monday, for eg., then another on the Tuesday.
He said he might have four storylines in a novel, with maybe 56 scenes.
And he would use a sheet to represent each scene, and lay them on the floor, in four lines, one for each storyline.
So there would be one line with a lot of pages, the main storyline, and three other lines parallel with this, with fewer pages or scenes, like a relationship storyline.
This showed the order of the novel, where each scene fits into each storyline, and where each scene fitted into the overall novel.
Each scene would push the character where they needed to be pushed, usually where they didn’t want to go.
Then he would write the outline.
An outline might be 20,000 words, or a quarter of the length of the novel.
But it was a road map for when he sat down to write the novel, right to the end. He could diverge from the blueprint if he had a good idea on the way, and come back to it.
He’d write a first draft, then maybe submit the second draft to the publisher.
An editor would highlight problems or make points about the draft, then the author would write a third draft.
Finally he’d receive page proofs from the publisher, which were pages as they would appear in the printed novel, right down to the font and page numbers, and he’d give this a more cursory inspection.

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– copyright Simon Sandall