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I had so much fun going to see Helen Fielding speak in Washington DC a few weeks ago with my friends Erin and Julie. Helen Fielding is the author of Bridget Jones Diary, and the latest Bridget Jones book, MAD ABOUT THE BOY. After many years, Helen decided to reveal the next installment of Bridget’s life.
Things were so crazy at that time with my own book, I didn’t get to write a post about the event and Helen’s writing advice until now. But now that the cover reveal for ELECTED is over, I had a moment. (just 3 more days for the contest to win a free advanced copy of ELECTED!) http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/fc0c920/.
First off, seeing Helen Fielding in person was like watching the Bridget Jones character come to life. Yes, Renee Zellweger was a great Bridget, but Helen Fielding admittedly wrote the character with parts of her own self in mind. She laughs, talks, and jokes in the same funny way Bridget would, and the blue soup incident from book 1 is even a real story from her own life.
Helen also gave lots of great writing advice to the audience, but there was one piece, in particular, I found true and useful. Write as if you’re scribing a letter to your best friend. A really good friend wouldn’t judge you. You wouldn’t hold back. You’d tell her anything. You’d laugh at yourself and know she’d laugh back. You’d describe things in gory detail, picturing her reading your note while drinking a glass of red wine with her legs pulled up on the couch.
Helen’s writing technique definitely translates to her own work. Can’t you just imagine Helen having written the Bridget Jones books like she was writing a letter to her best girlfriend?
Some other info from her latest book: First, it starts off pretty crappy. (You may or may not know, but Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones books started the “chic-lit” trend. It was her book that put the word on the map in publishing. Chic-lit is funny, light women’s literature that’s usually told from the first person. But it’s not so light that it’s a typical romance novel. The chic-lit movement is why I went on to read Jane Green, Devil Wears Prada, Diana Peterfreund’s books, etc. And in chic-lit there’s always a love relationship brewing in the book. And it ends happy! You don’t get let down.) But in MAD ABOUT THE BOY, the freakin’ book starts with Mr. Darcy already being dead! Yes, you heard me. It’s not even a spoiler b/c you can read about it on the back cover! What the heck! Fans were pretty distraught hearing this. Everyone who was there to see Helen talk already knew about the demise and was waiting to hear explanations. (one explanation wouldn’t suffice. they demanded multiple reasons.)
Helen said she writes about real life, and her character has the ability to see the bad things and live/laugh through them. In this case, it’s the loss of her husband, Mr. Darcy. The insider thing Helen told us was how nervous she was to tell Colin Firth that she’d killed off his movie character. She called him up right as the book was releasing/when she realized Mr. Darcy’s death was going to make the news and make people pretty upset. (she was surprised about this, if you can believe it.) She and Colin both cried togehter on the phone, like Mr. Darcy was a real person. Then they laughed at each other because they felt silly crying over a book character. (But being invested in a character is how you know they’re good ones…)
At least Colin Firth will be able to appear in the next movie via flashbacks, but still…
I haven’t read the book yet. It’s signed (personalized to me, misspelling my first name…but isn’t that oh-so-Bridget) and on my bookshelf. I plan to read it soon when I finish Allegient and A Star Swept Sea. Those first and then, only then, may I be able to deal with reading about the loss of Mr. Darcy.
Anyone else out there who’s read it yet? What did you think? And do you agree with Helen’s advice on writing like you’re writing a letter to a friend?
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