Book report, week 5: details and distraction

Classic films feature largely in my book. I wrote it drawing on old favourites of mine from memory – ie. using films that instinctively came to mind in connection with certain points of my plot. But I have to rewatch all of them in order to double check many details I’m hazy on, and to see if I can find anything to add further layers or context. So far the watch list is as follows, with a few more to be decided on:

  • The King and I
  • Casablanca
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • The Night of the Hunter
  • Top Hat
  • The Longest Day
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Some Like it Hot
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Meet Me in St Louis
  • Shall We Dance
  • Great Expectations
  • Marnie
  • An American in Paris
  • Key Largo
  • Carousel
  • Brief Encounter
  • The Lady Vanishes
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Royal Wedding

That’s quite a movie marathon. I’ve managed to watch a few, and make notes that have been helpful in the process, but I’ll have to set aside some serious time before working through the second draft. Although it’s legitimate book research, it feels very indulgent to spend hours and hours watching lovely old films…

Diving straight into the research. Eventually

…so I’ve done what any self-respecting, claiming-to-be-some-kind-of writer would do and procrastinated by watching TV and reading in my free time instead.

I read sloooowly these days but am almost at the end of Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, the third of her WWII books. She’s such a skillful writer and I’m happy to buy anything with her name on it. But she also makes me feel a bit grumpy because I know nothing I write will ever be in that league.

Set in London in 1940 and 1950, it’s the story of a young woman, Juliet Armstrong, who finds herself drawn into the world of espionage as her part in the war effort. She’s about as far away from 007 as a character can get. As well as the stellar writing, Transcription is a surprising reminder of how witty her early novels like Behind the Scenes at the Museum were [note to self: must reread. No, FOCUS. Stop getting sidetracked. Otherwise you’re going to get yourself into the Guinness Book of Records for oldest human to compelete a first draft.]

Netflix provided distraction in the form of The Stranger, an eight-part adaptation of the Harlan Koben thriller. It was ok, a gripping set-up that descended into silliness as it progressed (I rarely watch/read thrillers because I spend too much time yelling ‘but why would the character do that/why would the Police allow this?’). There were excellent performances by Stephen Rea, Siobhan Finneran and Anthony Head, and I’m always happy to watch lovely Richard Armitage. Plus it gave my brain a break whenever I needed one, while at the same time focussing on family, as my WIP does. So research of a sort? [note to self: you’re really stretching things now. Next thing you’ll be making yet more toast as research because your characters eat.]

Weekly stats

The book is currently 81,050 words, 282 pages. I’m 50 pages short of ploughing through everything I’ve written so far, reordoring some chapters and making notes of what remains to be written (most of that is the third POV I added later. My plan there is to strip out those sections so I can see how it flows – or doesn’t – on its own).

“There’s a massive plot hole on page 1 – otherwise you’re doing great!”

Incidentally, thanks to everyone who has taken time to comment, email me or send a private message regarding the reports. I really appreciate all the support. I’m not sure whether this book will ever see the light of day – it may be the one that writers mention when they talk about starter novels that end up in metaphorical drawers – but the encouragement from the sidelines of this particular marathon means a lot to me.

Want to read more? Week 6 is here.

Did you miss week 4? You can read it here. Alternatively, you can start from week 1 here

Photo: Michael Wien/Pixabay

4 thoughts on “Book report, week 5: details and distraction

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