I’ve spent some time interrogating search engines this weekend looking for fellow Pulp Idol competitors, trying to see if they’ve posted extracts of their work, trying to work out what I’m up against. I know that sounds sinister, but it isn’t really, I’m just interested. It’s a competition, sure, but I’m a big supporter of new, unpublished and self-published writers. After all, I am one. I intend to go there on 28th May and have a bit of a laugh and chat to a few people in the same boat as I am. I’m interested in what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
Anyway, I found a few examples (not many, but a few). The quality is good. Very good. Then I thought, maybe I’m being a bit unfair. My sample isn’t up anywhere. Ok, so now it is: Hinterland (link now removed). If you are here poking around as I’ve been doing, good luck, I’m looking forward to hearing you read and I hope the experience goes well for you. If you beat me I’ll shake your hand and buy you a pint. See you on the 28th.
Oh, and here’s a clue as to what I’ll be doing. I’m not reading from the top. I’m starting with the last paragraph of section one. Why? Because that segment fits better in 3 minutes and I think it gives a better indication of the structure of the novel, the narrative voice and the narrative thrust. How about that for transparency? Well, you know, we’re all in this together – our extracts are in already so what difference does it make? I was talking to my good (but virtual – as in we’ve only ever conversed online) friend Dan Holloway about it on Friday night. He has a lot of experience of readings and performance, much much more than I do. And he agreed that starting at the beginning is not necessarily the best idea. I tried that at home before the heat and at the three minute mark I was nowhere in particular. I like the first couple of sentences but in trying to second guess the judges I figured they were probably looking for more than a couple of nice sentences. What about the structure? Does my idea have longevity? Can I make a novel out of it? This way I figure I’m demonstrating more than just style. And the ending comes at the conclusion of a paragraph, the conclusion of a piece of imagery, at a natural break in the narrative proper which (hopefully) gives a little cliff hanger for the audience. And what am I mulling over in the next three weeks? What genre this is, why I’m writing in the first person, why the narrative voice is located outside of the story in terms of time and location. Etc. etc.