Doing everything arse about

Arse about – (idiomatic, UK, Australia, New Zealand) Placed or arranged the opposite way to the way it should be. No wonder it doesn’t look right mate, you’ve got the whole thing arse about face. Arranged in a confused or haphazard way; muddled.

Reverse Resolution. For the last two years October has been the start of #last90days for me. This year I am calling is #reverseresolution but still basically doing the same things.

I am a little too focussed on ‘looking back’ sometimes but oh boy was it brilliant to look back the version of me from 5 years ago. Apart from the global worldwide pandemic, I’d say 2015-me would be pretty happy.

5 years ago, my direct manager was about to quit. Little did I know but I was about to work with a woman who was not just bad at her job, but she was lazy and manipulative into the bargain. When she was ‘let go’ the company hired the most wonderful person to take her place, someone I still call a friend. The gifts I received from that amazing friendship are still rippling out into my life.

Would I choose to go back and do it all again, a la Hotel Deja Vu? Hell to the no but I wouldn’t change a thing. (Okay so maybe I would not be so thick and take so long to start listening to podcasts, another ripple courtesy of my dear friend KB.)

But in the end, aren’t we exactly where we’re supposed to be?

Reverse Plotting. JF Penn talked about writing a reverse plan for her work-in-progress Tree of Life. She is 50K words into the manuscript but took the time to sit and write a chapter outline with a few sentences describing each chapter. I have just done this for Mae and June, a work in progress that I going to start again for Nanowrimo. I’ll give it one last shot. Now that the plotting is done, I have nutted out exactly where the story is going.

I was worried that my villain, June, was a little too nasty. I always do that. But she must be a bad enough person to ‘deserve’ her ending.

I’ve also plotted Circle of Ash and in the process had to decide the premise of the story. Writing the premise after 52,000 words must be somewhat arse about.

“Premise” comes from two Latin words, meaning to put before. The premise is the foundation of your story-that single core statement, says James N. Frey, “of what happens to the characters as a result of the actions of a story.”


The Writers’ Digest article goes on to say, ‘Once you establish your premise, you then set out to create a plot that proves it. The discipline of expressing your driving idea will prevent you from wandering too far from your original concept and keep your plot on a steady path from the beginning through the middle to the end. It will also help you craft a story that works.’

A story premise can usually be stated in one sentence, and—because of the universal truths premises tend to express-a premise statement is often a familiar expression or clich. “Honesty is the best policy,” “be careful what you wish for,” “what goes around, comes around,” even “love means never having to say you”re sorry” are all valid premise statements.’

The premise is the foundation of your story-that single core statement of what happens to the characters as a result of the actions of a story.


The premise of my work in progress Mae and June is ‘Given the chance, most people would like the opportunity to right wrongs but some people would go to their grave without admitting they were wrong.’ ‘What goes around, comes around’ or ‘karma is a bitch‘ work quite well too.

Mae and June is in the same ‘universe’ as my first novel Hotel Deja Vu so the theme focusses on regret and redemption.

My work in progress Mimi gets away with Murder could also use this premise. Mmm, I see a pattern forming.

The premise of work in progress Circle of Ash is a little harder to pin down. I thought about it for a while and left a pen and paper beside my mat during yoga on Wednesday. I wrote ‘well meaning people can still make mistakes’ (BORING!) The road to hell is paved with good intentions (proverb) would have been a bit more exciting. The I wrote Shadows are dangerous, a theme I’ve been working on lately in my spiritual practice I finally settled on ‘the truth will set you free‘, then added ‘And lies will fuck you every time.’ That is the premise of Circle of Ash.

The premise of my memoir Remembering Paris is either ‘Paris is always a good idea’ or ‘no matter where you go, there you are.’ Okay, seriously I intend to send a query to Allen & Unwin next week so I need a premise.

Putting the cart before the horse. Often writers will spend years writing a book then shop it around. I did exactly this, but chose to self-publish. I really like the idea suggested by the writers in the 20booksto50k group that writers should have a readership of some kind to run things by before they spend too much time on a project that may not have legs.

As a writer, if we are planning to write to market and self-publish, it’s crucial to have beta readers or a group of interested ‘fans’ who will give feedback before we go and spend hours and hours on something. I have my I Love Paris page and often post snippets of my work on there inviting feedback. I even invite my troupe of dedicated #parislovers to be a brutal as possible! Tell it like it is, peeps!

Author Pat Flynn has a great book called WILL IT FLY? It’s a business book but the idea of perfect for writers.

Stop rushing into businesses (or books) born from half-baked ideas, misguided theories, and other forms of self-delusion. A lack of proper validation kills more businesses than anything else. As Joel Barker says, ‘Speed is only useful if you re running in the right direction.’ …

from Will it Fly by Pat Flynn

This goes for stories too. We are obsessed with publishing (It is how we make money I suppose…) but taking the opportunity to get feedback, critique and guidance from the right people is going to be worth it in the long run. Oh and make sure the readers are the right readers.

Don’t ask your non-reading friends at all.

Don’t ask your fantasy-reading partner if you write romance.

Don’t ask your romance-reading sister to read your thriller.

it’s an oldie but a goodie!

Use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find your readership, or better still start a a blog and build your following on a platform you own and control. Use social media to direct readers to your site.

Find your audience and in the process you will find your voice.