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Writers take an experimental turn

28 April 2003

News of interesting new approaches to writing fiction is coming from all over the world.

In Germany 40 authors conceived, wrote and published a book in 12 hours to mark World Book Day. Some of the authors expressed anxiety about producing a contribution in two hours, but the experiment was successful in focusing attention on writers and writing - although you'd have to read the book to find out whether the result was any good.

In the meantime Danielle Crittenden, author of amanda bright@home wrote her novel over the sixteen weeks it was posted on the Wall Street Journal site, incorporating plenty of feedback from readers as she went along. She is now revising it for publication and has discovered what many serial writers know, which is that writing for weekly publication and writing a full-length novel are different things. But she is very positive about the experience: 'The same technological progress that threatened to finish off the novel may now be restoring it to life. Instead of delivering the final blow, the Internet has provided novelists with a miraculous vehicle to deliver their work to millions of readers around the planet.'

In the meantime, books still manage to generate huge amounts of column inches. Producing something which is really original (as well as good) should get you into print in the end. Jasper Fforde, after spending nineteen years as an assistant cameraman by day and a writer by night, broke through with his fifth novel, five years in the writing, The Eyre Affair. What made the difference was that the adventures of his feisty heroine Thursday Next scrambled up time and borrowed from different genres in a witty, entertaining and quite original way. His new Thursday Next novel, Lost in a Good Book, now has a ready-made audience. The first one was so different from anything else around at the time that Fforde collected 76 rejections before he finally found a publisher. Persistence - and talent - paid off in the end.