I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Skyfall rises; MS shrinks

I've watched James Bond movies over the decades. Seen them evolve from plots which adhered to the books (From Russia With Love had the best baddie - Robert Shaw) into three-ring circuses where soundbites outweighed the thrills. Felt they were getting repetitive. Thought Daniel Craig was a step in the right direction. Noticed that the latest, Skyfall, got good  reviews from the critics I pay attention to.

Watched Skyfall last night. A tighter more believable plot which tracks British society as we know it, good London settings,  the enemy reduced to a handful, a villain (magnificent Javier Bardem - such a presence in No Country For Old Men) who has good reasons for his villainy, less gadgetry. Room too for introspection: on responsibility, the business of getting older, making hard decisions, bearing the consequences of "collateral damage", and fear. Plus shooting, bombs, etc. It's not Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, but better than most in its genre.

EARLIER this year I sent the completed Blest Redeemer to Joe for what newspaper journos call copy-tasting. Forty-eight hours on I begged him to destroy the file. A few weeks later I sent him a revision; then another panicky email saying "Not yet." A month or so has passed and 156,000 words have shrunk to 147,575. I may be on the verge.

Not everyone is familiar with numbers of words. Think of the 8500-word shrinkage as 38 A4 pages of double-space typing. Quite a lot. Two short stories. And now the $64,000 question: why, you ask, do I over-write in the first place?

Well, there's a rule of thumb that less is more. So prune hard, eh? Indeed. Unless, of course, what you've got is too abrupt, lacks scene-setting description, needs a bit of fun. Also, who knows in advance which words should stay


  1. Maybe I should watch this latest Bond movie. I liked the earlier ones but found the later ones' computer-generated-stunt format a total turn-off. Not that that in any way compares with the travesty that goes under the title of "The Lord of the Rings."

  2. You have often pronounced that writing a blog post is a test of conciseness. One may call this “editorship”. Pruning can become an obsession to the point of obscurity if not careful.

    Writing fiction, where some more expansion is needed, can lead to verbosity if not careful. That may then be defended by calling it “style”.

  3. Tom: There were moments when I was genuinely moved. Unfortunately I cannot provide any clues since they would "spoil".

    Sir Hugh: Conciseness. Only for me, not in general. On balance imposing a 300-word limit has served me better than allowing myself to run off at the mouth. I say "on balance" because there have been many occasion when the theme has been grandiose and has needed more than 300 words. As a result, the post has been rendered incoherent by excessive chopping. However, I think readers are more likely to forgive "too little" more easily than "too much".

    I think the wheels are falling off your theory about novel writing as you write.

    The best thing about blogging is that the final post is never, in fact, final. I have already rewritten the last two sentences. Blogging has this advantage over stone-masonry.

  4. I especially enjoyed the nods to earlier Bond movies. Like Daniel Craig in this one especially because he isn't the "pretty boy" image of previous Bonds. Despite never visiting England, I believed every bit of of the setting. Also liked that the gadgetry and special effects were less noticeable in this one.

    Ditto on being moved, in my case to tears, several times.

  5. The choice of Sam Mendes to direct Skyfall explains much about the quality of the film. The man behind American Beauty and Revolutionary Road could only do well even with old hat Bond.

  6. Daniel. Craig. Wow. I would pour an ale for him if we were ever to meet.

    Where was I?

  7. The Crow: Re. nods. VR got terribly worried about a certain car. Justifiably. I suspect you and I were moved about the same character; alas we cannot reveal; 'twould be a spoiler.

    Joe: In fact, a narrative instead of a string of set-pieces. And the eschewal of large-scale combat scenes where the characters become as meaningless as ants. I was especially impressed by the introduction of a parliamentary committee which subsequently fitted quite neatly into the action. I got the idea that Mendes had worked closely with his script-writers (a team of three) - always the sign of a director who understands his priorities.

    RW (zS): Bond films have been notorious for product placement in the past. In this instance I learned that a can of Heineken may or may not have been served up but that Bond grabbed it and covered up the identifying logo with his hand. Way to go Craig, way to go.

  8. Skyfall is too good to spoil. I only spoil the terrible ones.

    Have you seen the Hopkins-Mirren film about Hitchcock and his wife, Alma? It was good, but probably only for those of us who remember his movies first hand and sat glued to the television for his weekly show.

  9. I've password protected my latest blog post for reasons best left alone. I hope you will check it out. The password is: gofish