Thursday, 31 May 2012

NEGATIVE SPACE - SCRIBBLING AROUND THE OUTSIDE REVEALS THE WHOLE INSIDE


I was looking for inspiration in art, and not for the first time.

I came across an art blog - Today in art - it listed drawing exercises an artist should do every day.

I was fascinated by Negative Space.

For at least five minutes I thought linking this to writing was a new invention ;)

On Litreactor I found examples of writers using negative space to highlight the thing that no one wanted to speak about, but was critical in the scene.

As Today in art says to practice, and Lit reactor provided examples, I took Hemingway's scene (originally from "Hills like White Elephants" and experimented. I MG-ed it. 

“It won’t seem like any time at all, son,” the man said. “Twelve weeks is nothing.”
The boy looked at his suitcase where rested in the boot of the car, there was a lot of empty space around it.
“I know you’ll be busy, Tom. Lot of new things to get used to. The excitement of being away, for the first time.”
The boy didn’t say anything.
“I’ll drive down there with you and I won’t leave until you’re all settled in. Remember, the staff are used to new boys. They know the drill, they’ll see that you're alright.”
“I won’t be there forever?”
“No, silly… of course not. Before you know it, I’ll be back to pick you up.”
“Really?”
“It’s not like you’ll have any time to miss me. They fill the days with lessons and pack the weekends with activities.”
The boy tugged at his tie, he had to work it hard, backwards and forwards, before it came loose. 
“And you’re going to be OK?”
“Of course, I’ll be great. You don’t need to worry about me. People have been doing this kind of thing for years and they all survived the experience.”
“Some boys I met at the open-air pool, this summer, told me they went there,” said the boy. “And they didn’t seem to think it was too bad.”
“See,” the man said, “if they didn’t like it, they would've told you. I’d never send you away if I didn’t think you’d be happy. It is the best thing, you know.”
“Do people always have to have what’s best?”
“I don’t want to settle for second best. You shouldn’t have to make do with Good… not when you can have the best.”
“And if I work hard there, and I make you proud, will you love me?”
“You know I love you, son.”
“Oh. But when I come back will you be happy to see me?”
“Very happy. I’ll love it. This isn’t the time to worry about all that. We’ll have lots of time together, soon.”
“When I’m gone you won’t have to worry about me.”
“I won’t worry because I know you’ll be happy. You’ll be happy and I’ll be happy too."

I scribbled around the outside, and left a great big hole for them both, inside. 

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED, OR EXPERIMENTED, WITH ANYTHING NEW?


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

TEASER TUESDAY - LILY by Holly Webb and the Words with JAM 1st PAGE Competition

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Anyone can play along! 

Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Lily by Holly Webb

In a world where magic is outlawed, Lily runs wild and neglected. Once rich and powerful magicians, now Lily's family hide away in their crumbling house, while her older sister, Georgie, is trained secretly in magic.


From the end of page 13 to the start of page14 

The house was simmering with anger, even more than it had been early in the morning. Lily wasn't sure what was happening, but when she had stolen out of the orangery earlier, she had seen Mama stalking through the passageways, the gold silk of her dress rustling with fury.

If you have a minute, and £6 to spare, you might like to enter the Words with JAM 
1st PAGE Competition.
The closing date is Friday 8th June. 
You have more than a week to polish up the first page and have a little fun.
I loved the fact that I could pay to enter using Paypal. 
On a related subject, I read the blurb on, the judge, Amanda Hodgkinson's d├ębut novel 22, Britannia Road... that was an opening page! 

HAVE YOU ENTERED ANY WRITING COMPETITIONS THIS YEAR?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR NOVEL

* I'm listening to
Primadonna - Marina and The Diamonds
I'm dusting off my suit and looking for
a top that says "Employ me!"

I'm applying for a job. It isn't primary school, class teaching, although it is in an academic setting *new challenges :D

I would love to be successful because the skill set I possess would be suited to the role. 

The challenges posed by the different setting would be exciting. 

Right in the middle of the application form, I imagined the interview. *how-like-me ;) 

In the interview, the questions they ask will be related to my experience or to the role. I’m either going to give the answer they are looking for or I’m not. 

The part of the interview I was uncertain about is when they say “Do you have any questions for me?” 

I did some research. The CBS News site offered this advice.

Who is in charge?
Who is in charge and how will success be measured?
What is your management style?
            How would you describe your style of management?
What is your biggest problem right now?
The follow up discussion could show your ability to contribute towards meeting and overcoming the challenges.
Why are you here?
            Knowing why this person works there, remains there, may reveal a lot about the work place
Why is this position open?
            Did the previous person leave, gain promotion within, and is there an internal candidate?
What next?
Where are you in the hiring process? When and how should I follow up?

I thought I was doing interview preparation until I got side-tracked by the basic questions. 

I read the question but not as preparation for a possible interview. I imagined the relationship between characters. 

Thinking about the characters using these six questions gave me an insight into their past, current situation, and their future too.

They turned into:

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR NOVEL:

Who is in charge?
What is your management style?
What is your biggest problem right now?
Why are you here?
Why is this position open? (How did the situation occur?)          
What next?

DO YOU FIND THAT EVERYTHING YOU ENCOUNTER IN REAL-LIFE IS REFLECTED ONTO YOUR WRITING?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

SAY WHAT? POSITIVITY


What he said... I think ;)

Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviour.
Keep your behaviour positive, because your behaviours become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Mahatma Gandhi

I've been using this quote to guide me as my hero is unfolding from the words on the screen. This is what I want the hero to strive for - although I don't plan to make it easy, either.

I love Gandhi's statements on positivity, they make an excellent guide for the writer-in-me.

It doesn't do a bad job of being a guide for the me-in-me either ;)

ON A SCALE OF :( 1 to 10 :D HOW POSITIVE ARE YOU FEELING?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

6 SENTENCE SUNDAY - DRAWN WITH VULNERABILITY


Image found at  The Melting Thought blog.
My thoughts and thanks.

If you are writing about a character, if he's a powerful character, unless you give him vulnerability, I don't think he'll be as interesting to the reader. - Stan Lee


Six Sentence Sunday


I remembered to sign up for 6 Sentence Sunday *cheers and a very large grin


Now, I just have to work out how to get the post up quicker.


This Sunday I am posting from my romantic fiction.


DRAWN


Darrah has been charged with finding and rescuing the Regal's heir. The evidence suggests he was taken by a band of Sarkisians who feed directly from the living. Darrah fights her cultural prejudice and instinctive fears when The Sarkisian Council send Fauld Hale to work alongside her to rescue the boy and maintain the fragile peace between their peoples. 




Like every other night, Hale took up a position on a rocky outcrop nearby. The ragged edge of flint was highlighted by the setting sun. Hale had pulled his legs up, his leather bag positioned underneath to absorb the worst of the sharp surface. Darrah had always assumed he rested apart because he distrusted them. Looking at the lush grass and the night flowers that grew in the glade, she wondered if she had misunderstood how he felt about his Sarkisian nature. Did  he fear not being able to control the dele that could syphon the strength from any living thing near him?




DO YOU THINK VULNERABILITY IS A WEAKNESS?  

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

REVELATIONS AND THE GARDEN METAPHOR

This isn't mine. Mine was worse. Darker.
There are six trees involved in the  growth excesses
at the end of my garden.
Vigorous writing is concise. 
William Strunk and EB White


Revelations on a beam.


There was a section of overgrown garden down by our back fence. We called it The Wilderness. We realised we had to deal with it when HWMNBN began insisting it was a hedgehog reservation. Seriously. It was like he really believed it was. 


There were bushes with shoots so long they were up the top of the apple tree. It was time to act.


There were trees, and bushes and shrubs, everywhere. I was knee deep in apple mould, and lopping my way through off-shoots that would have made reasonable trees.


The branches were down. 


For the first time in years, the sun shone into the dark corner of the garden. 


Forget gardening, I was struck by Strunk and White.


It was as if I was in a 3-D representation of my novel. I'll spare you the full extent of the garden metaphor.


I know the writer is supposed to finish the draft before they go all review-revise-and-reduce on it but I couldn't resist giving my wip a light pruning once I got indoors. I attacked the "of"s and removed some from the first three chapters. 


I was happy. 


May favourite editing question is: IS THERE A STRONGER VERB? 


DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE VERB?

Monday, 14 May 2012

10 Principles of Style and a Fragmentitus epidemic

BARCELONA,
where fragments combine beautifully 
Apart from a few simple principles, the sound and rhythm of English prose seem to me matters where both writers and readers should trust not so much to rules as to their ears.
F L Lucas


This is a such clever piece of advice. Only when I read it aloud did the meaning clarify.


10 PRINCIPLES OF STYLE - F L Lucas

  • brevity
  • clarity
  • communication
  • emphasis 
  • honesty
  • passion and control
  • reading
  • revision
  • sophistication and simplicity
  • sound and rhythm 
Even without more detail that is a great list to think about while writing.



Confession time: I've become addicted to fragments. I want to write in full sentences, I really do. The trouble is, once you start using them, fragments are addictive. They crop up everywhere.  They sneak in even if you keep on the lookout. And they stay. 


Afterthought fragments, my worst addiction.
Although, lonely verb fragments bleed out there too. 
Participle phrase fragments? The worst.


Reading over my wip, I recognised the extent of the problem. It had reached epidemic proportions but I tried to find the cure


Diagnosis complete. 
Cure identified. 
I've slaved to rectify the symptoms of fragmentitus. One phrase at a time. 
I'm pretty sure the medicine didn't work.


ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM FRAGMENTITUS?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

CRISIS: MY SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY HAS SEVEN *epic fail


Six Sentence Sunday


It has been so long, I'm out of the loop. I didn't even remember to sign up for 6 Sentence Sunday *slapshead 
Ooops!


At least, I have a good reason to post the seven sentences I just have to post.


This Sunday I am posting from my romantic fiction.


DRAWN


Darrah has been charged with finding and rescuing the Regal's heir. The evidence suggests he was taken by a band of Sarkisians who feed directly from the living. Darrah fights her cultural prejudice and instinctive fears when The Sarkisian Council send Fauld Hale to work alongside her to rescue the boy and maintain the fragile peace between their peoples. 


Hale had warned her there would be a consequence to the dele - the sharing of his life force - that had healed her frostbite wounds. 





Even though it was necessary, the tip of his finger, still stroking along the line of her collarbone, weakened her. Enough. Darrah shrugged, until his hand fell away. She couldn’t afford to revel in that feeling when the path through the treacherous swamp that ensured them safe passage provided them with no place of safety. It offered them all up, to the evil that lurked beneath the water, like nothing so tasty as a string of sausages.
Sliding her arms around Hale, Darrah leaned until her forehead rested against his chest. She could not fight the painful, dark, and desperate need.

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY IF YOU ARE CELEBRATING, OR REMEMBERING, YOUR MOTHER, TODAY.

WHAT WAS THE GREATEST GIFT YOUR MOTHER GAVE TO YOU?

Mine always listened. (She still always listens.) When I was struggling to balance working full-time and the boy who wouldn't do the only things he couldn't do (you've got to love autism,) my Mum always listened. She helped me find a way.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

HOW THREE BAD THINGS CREATED A WHOLE LOT OF BETTER


ZOMBIE CHIP AND ME,
KILLING OFF CHARACTERS FOR FUN

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining... researching... talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." 
E L Doctorow

So far today I have:

  • Fine tuned my outlined planning
  • Researched detailed information I may need to use
  • Chatted through my ideas for the final plot twist with several writing friends 
Oh!

I thought I'd had such a good day  ;)


I was trying to kill off a character. 

Now, it's as if they'd never been - it was odd... how that happened. 


My character arcs look more like a watercolour landscape - the shapes feel and look just right - tight.

HAVE YOU EVER FOUND THAT TAKING A CHARACTER OUT STRENGTHENED YOUR NOVEL?

Monday, 7 May 2012

NEW HABITS DIE HARD - FRAMING THE SCENE IN PEN

I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms ~ Louise Erdrich


I've had lots of practice at being in love with everything inside the world's rainy arms, I think it has rained every day since they introduced drought measures. This has to have been the wettest drought on record.


Since I've spent the last month with access only to the pen and paper style of writing, I have become addicted to creating scenes that way. Yesterday, I drafted, and typed up, one scene using Word. Last night, I wrote an extended conversation and added layers from the plot and back story to drop into the scene. If I hadn't been addicted to pen I would never have been as technical in my writing. 


Spring Cleaning Time!


 Theresa Paolo and Courtney Pearson are hosting the Dust It Off Blogfest. I was late entering but the opening of FLOWER just seemed to be too appropriate to miss posting. 



FLOWER
Chapter One

Life goes on

The water raged down the pane until it puddled on the deep, white sill. Not the dribbling dot-to-dot now, the constant streams were blown sideways by the breeze. I tracked the movement of one rivulet with my index finger, prodded and hoped to stop, to have any affect on the running raindrops with about as much success as I'd had with everything else, lately. With the distraction of walking washed away I'd have to wait in the house with the fosters, not literally The Fosters, just the family who'd been doing their best while I'd been doing my worst.
            "We could still go out for a walk," Jo said. She was close, but not touching. 
Even with the wind whistling through the crack at the base of the patio door, and the black clouds slashing the rain down, I still would have gone out. I needed any kind of distraction
But little Amy and Hannah were stretched out in front of the TV. They were singing and playing with their dolls. Mostly, they were banging the dolls’ heads together. As the silence grew louder, the plastic dancers became as still as their owners.
"No. Thanks."
Waves of relief rolled down the room from the mini pop-princesses. Hannah and Amy went back to the practice. Who would have thought dolls could audition for TV talent shows.
“Well, not long now anyway, Flower." Jo patted at my arm before she straightened up and went back to the kitchen.
I stared at the drops that fell so easily. Moments later, a little plastic head rubbed at the spot on my arm that was still weirdly warm.
"Flower? Do ya' wan' my doll?"
Hannah was making the ultimate sacrifice and she was making a habit of it.

What I learned from the first piece of writing I ever started as a novel is that, even though I know the theory of how they ought to be used, I have a tendency to treat commas artistically - to paint in breathlessness with tiny black marks.


I was walking through a nature reserve today I was hoping to find inspiration for the MORTIMER'S missing ending. In the middle of the damp and jewelled greenery I turned the corner to discover a stripped oak climbing frame. It was of the woodland and yet alien to it, I realised I had found all the inspiration I needed.


HAVE YOU EVER FOUND INSPIRATION SOMEWHERE UNEXPECTED?

Sunday, 6 May 2012

MY EMERGENCY COMPUTER BACK-UP SYSTEM WAS LOW TECH


MY EMERGENCY
COMPUTER BACK-UP :(

"Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon

One month ago, I logged on to my computer. When ten minutes had passed and the log was not on, I realised something was wrong. 

Four weeks, three technicians and one rebuild later, I am the proud owner of a mystery. Even the most tech-savvy computer geek couldn't find what had caused the fault nor could he prove that a virus ate my computer's brain. (Bless him, he did rescue my documents.) 

BACK UP YOUR WORK!

When every thing seemed at it's worst, I refused to continue writing Mortimer: I abandoned him half way to the Mess Hall. I was too angry because I had allowed my back-up systems to slip.

The two weeks worth of writing that I hadn't backed up involved experimental work on tenses and all the directions on areas to revisit later. I also had the latest draft for my query letter and the notes for the synopsis in the same document.

I had no idea if I would see any of it again. 

Unplugged, I spent the month working on some ideas in long hand. 

Even Blogger has changed since I was allowed on a computer last. I like this new format.

HOW IS EVERYONE? I MISSED YOU ALL.