Monday, 9 December 2013

Getting the most out of the Internet – a basic guide for everyone and God by Derek Duggan

Surely there is no better tool in the aspiring writer’s arsenal than the internet. It makes you wonder how anybody ever wrote anything at all before it was invented by Mr T in the eighties. One of its most basic uses is, of course, simply to check facts, but that’s not much good to us writers. It’s always preferable for the fiction author to just make things up as we go along and then try to apply a plan retrospectively to our story at the end. And writers are in good company there – where would we be if God had checked his facts when he was writing the Bible?

No, there are much better ways to use the internet as a writer. For a start it gives us a great opportunity to see inside the minds of the characters we want to people our stories with without having to actually go out into the real world and do any tedious mucking about with actually talking to people or anything. For example, you may have a story that involves a character who works in the customer service department of an office. You may never have experienced this for yourself and so you could be at a loss as to how to truly inhabit the skin of this person. In the old days you might have had to actually take a job in a real office and spent a year or so working there, befriending people, asking them questions, making endless notes, before you could really understand what it is that office workers do all day. Now, thanks to the internet, that sort of research is a thing of the past. Simply fuck about on facebook all day instead of doing any work and hey presto you’ll know exactly what it’s like to work in customer service. Job done.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of blogs out there to tell you how useful having a blog is. So, why not write your own blog! You could invite other bloggers on to do a guest blog where they can tell you and your readers all about how useful their blog has been and maybe you could do a guest spot on theirs saying that yours is also useful. This is also the very place for talking about the plan you have retrospectively applied to your new bit of writing in case anyone that has read your stuff has the wrong idea about it. Not only that, but you can fill your blog with other very useful information like how many cups of tea you had while writing your book, what biscuits you prefer, and most importantly, what music you were listening to at the time and how that influenced you. Nothing interests people more than reading about what music someone else has been listening to. If only God would do a blog –
Extract from God Blog, Bloginus, verses 1-4

Verse 1. And lo, I had hit a wall and wasn’t sure how to continue. In truth I thought I might have to abandon my ambitious project altogether for no baddie had presented himself to hasten my tale onwards.

Verse 2. Thenceforth did I proceed to my mp3 collection and make great declarations that it was to play my favourite song at the time – The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden.

Verse 3. And then did I fall to my knees and declare Alleluia! As like a bright star in the East the notion did present itself and come fully formed into what would be my head if I had one and thence did the story flow like the Rivers of Babylon (also on my playlist, as is Rasputin – I mean, thou can’st beat a bit of Boney M).

Verse 4. And truly I did give great thanks to Iron Maiden, for I would have been verily bolloxed without them.

Of course, one of the greatest things a writer can do on the internet is to develop a strong social media presence. When you submit your manuscripts this is one of the first things a prospective publisher will look at because it’s much more important to be able to make virtual friends with people than it is to be able to write. The correlation between how many friends you have and how good a writer you are is well documented, but how are you supposed to garner all these friends and followers in the first place? The simple way is to keep asking your existing friends to continuously share links to your blog (and to your friend’s blog that you’ve just done a guest spot on) and to your good review on Amazon. You can occasionally throw in a photo of your dinner (which isn’t a mental-in-the-face thing to do at all) and the odd one of a kitten or dog. This must work and definitely isn’t boring at all as is evidenced by the amount of writers who do just this. You must also throw in constant status updates on how your current work in progress is going. Here’s one I spotted from a while ago on God’s facebook page –

Verily hast I finished my fourth rewrite of the sequel to The Old Testament which is called The New Testament – This time they’re coming back from the dead! (In truth I’m still working on the by-line, maybe I’ll drop it? My publishers simply want to go with – The Gospel, but I think that makes it sound a bit like a West End Musical. What do you think?). I’m not sure which version to go with – perhaps I’ll release all four and let the readers make up their own minds.

And you get the idea with that.

So, that’s just a couple of ways for you to use the internet to great effect. Glad I could help.

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