Wednesday, 27 June 2012

ASK YOURSELF, ADJECTIVE, ARE YOU REALLY NECESSARY?


AN ADJECTIVE CASTS LIGHT
ON THE SUBJECT
TOO MANY COULD BE BLINDING.
Thursday looks a lot like Wednesday... which is odd. 

“As to the adjective, when in doubt strike it out.” ~ Mark Twain

There are few writers who aren’t exorcising adverbs from their work.

Adverbs are being cast out of manuscripts no matter what form they take.

Adverbs of:
Manner – furiously, obnoxiously, intensely
Place – here, somewhere, upstairs
Frequency – never, often, always
Time – after, soon, then
Purpose – to avoid, since, so that
           
Adverbial phrases usually line up in that order.

Mortimer waited sadly in his room three times every day at each shift’s end in case his parent called in to see him. 

I wouldn’t usually use more than three phrases in the same sentence.

Every day at each shift’s end, Mortimer waited sadly in his room in case his parent called in to see him. 

But… are adverbs really the problem?

It could be the adjective’s greatest trick was to convince the writer that adverbs were the real problem while they ran amok through every sentence spreading systemic rot.

ASK YOURSELF, ADJECTIVE, ARE YOU REALLY NECESSARY?

There is a trinity of questions you can use to balance the worth of any adjective is it:

OBVIOUS

A large, powerful whale swam up to the edge of the boat.

Whale always conveys the image of a large and powerful creature. Whales don’t come in small.

I put the plate on the flat table.
The adjective is loitering if the image is already conveyed in the noun.

ESSENTIAL

The adjective should surprise or explain how the thing is different from the reader’s expectations. It must improve the image for the reader if it doesn’t  then it must be cast crossed out.

The excited toddler ran into the path of the metal car driven by bleary-eyed doctor.

An unnecessary advert can jar the reader.

APPROPRIATE

 The misplaced adjective is… The Reaper of the Narrative Voice

When I leave school, and I can pronounce the words in the anti-spell shields, I’m going to become a puissant Witch Slayer.

The right word used by the wrong person is just wrong.

MISS HARDBROOM    The Worst Witch ~ Jill Murphy

“Before Mildred had the time to reply, the door crashed open to reveal their form-mistress, Miss Hardbroom standing in the doorway wrapped in a black dressing-gown, with a lantern in her hand. She was a tall, terrifying lady with a sharp bony face and black hair scragged back into such a tight knot that her forehead looked quite stretched. ”

The introduction to Miss Hardbroom has only one spare adjective.

SNAPE Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ~ JK Rowling.

CH 7 “… a professor with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.”

CH 8 “Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black like Hagrid’s, but they had none of Hagrid’s warmth. They were cold and empty and made you think of dark tunnels.”

JK Rowling writes Snape’s description simply on page 94 but, with imagery and dialogue, takes the reader deeper on page 102.

The First Great Rule, when editing like an exorcist, must be:

Adjectives, I command you to obey me to the letter, I cast you out.

HOW DO YOU CHECK YOU ARE NOT WRITING TOO MUCH INTO YOUR DESCRIPTIONS IN YOUR WIP?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

THERE ARE 6 MAIN USES FOR THOUGHTS ;)


THOUGHTS HAVE BEEN
HURTING MY HEAD

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.  - William James (1842 - 1910)

No one knows what we’re thinking unless we choose to reveal them.

Even when we reveal our thoughts, we censor them and only vocalise the thought that is most suitable, appropriate or powerful.

In writing thoughts and lectures directed internally can be used to:
·         heighten emotion
·         lighten the scene
·         allow an additional insight into a character
·         give characters an distinct voice
·         reveal a character’s motivations
·         can reveal a character’s conflict

Thoughts can slow the pace of a scene.

Although thoughts never need speech marks, any kind of visual marking can be distracting.

I have been experimenting with minimal punctuation:

Mortimer glanced around his L-terminal, checking to see when the Staff activated the chrys-chip implant switch.
Sometimes there was a look or someone asked a question. Yawning. Rubbing foreheads.  There was never a good reason for stunning learners. It was a painful abuse of power.

Mortimer glanced around his L-terminal to check when the Staff activated the chrys-chip implant switch.
Yawning. Rubbing foreheads.  There’s never a good reason for stunning learners. Sometimes there was a look or someone asked a question. It’s a painful abuse of power.

DO YOU USE ITALICS TO SHOW THOUGHTS? DO YOU CHANGE TENSES IF YOU DO?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A WRITER'S FOUR A DAY WAY

THE WRITER'S
4 A DAY WAY
Forget an invasion force of small silver centipedes, there is an easier way to make the world a better place.

Someone in my local area is a bit of a genius: they devised and launched a volunteer scheme called The 4-a-day Way.

When I hear the words "volunteer scheme" I panic, sometimes even to the point of crossing the road and finding the door furniture intensely fascinating.

Pay-it-forward just got simple.

The idea is that as many people as possible agree to do four small things every day:

  • one piece of litter - pick up and bin (2.25 million pieces of litter are dropped daily in the UK)
  • one "give way" - allow someone to go before you whether walking or in the car etc (many incidents of road rage, as well as other kinds of accidents, have an element of "me first" in them)
  • one penny - put one penny away (in a jar) to be used for someone else's benefit (There are 60 million people in the UK x 1p? Enough said!)
  • one "helping hand" - a good deed eg holding the door open for someone else, returning the harassed parent's shopping trolley etc (Psychologist, Michael Poulin, believes making a concrete improvement for another can reduce our own personal stress levels) 


A WRITER'S 4 A DAY WAY
• one significant comment - inspirational, meaningful, or encouraging
• one follow - look for someone new to the writing to follow every day
• one tweet or retweet or review - to help a fellow writer
• one "helping hand" - I set up What are you writing: "Tell Me About It!" I'm going to switch this to a separate page on the blog 

See I'm feeling useful and de-stressed already ;)

Here is a significant question too:

WHICH BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU'D WRITTEN? 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

TELL ME ABOUT IT TUESDAY


TEASER TUESDAY? I'm reading Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. 
page 24 
She was spent, burnt out, and utterly exhausted. She had nowhere to go, now power left, no time.



TELL ME ABOUT IT TUESDAY.
IF YOU DROP BY WHY NOT JOIN IN - TELL US ALL WHAT YOU'RE WORKING ON - WE WOULD LOVE TO HELP.

TELL US WHAT ARE YOU WRITING.
TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS…

       What are you currently writing?
       When do you think you will finish?
       What do you think you will write next?


A novel:
MG? YA? Adult?
Adventure? Crime? Romance? Positively literary?
Nonfiction:
A blog post? An article? A self-help guide?

Something poetical?
            A sonnet? A limerick? Haiku?

Whatever you are writing at the moment are you zipping through it? Struggling to get beyond chapter 4? Nervous of reaching the end and all that might come after?

Anyway, how it’s going?

Tell me about it Tuesday.

If you’d like to join in, why not share what you are writing at the moment.
Share your opening paragraph here.
You could provide a link to your work, too.

There are guidelines:
1.    Use your one sentence pitch as a brief introduction
2.    Paste your opening paragraph
3.    Include the focus area you would like support with

With inspiration from Nathan Bransford, it might go something like this:

1   DEL BRIMBLE AND A CANNERY PROBLEM an MG humorous fantasy adventure

Three friends sneak a can opener into The Tower of London, puncture a suit of armour (OPENING CONFLICT), let loose a mighty confused knight (OBSTACLE) and have to trap him back inside his metalware sleepsuit before the school bus arrives to take them back to school.


2   DEL BRIMBLE AND A CANNERY PROBLEM opening paragraph

School trips, the kind outlined to parents and carers, were planned, prepared and risk-assessed until the fun dripped right out of them. By the time anyone was allowed to leave the school building all that was left was stuffy and educational. As she'd already turned eleven years-old, Del Brimble was an old hand at school trips… she’d been on them all: the long, the short and the residential. She’d walked the streets and admired the shops with same awe and wonder she reserved for sparklers at a fireworks display. Mini-buses were tinny. Coaches crawled... unless there were two; then it was like coach leapfrog along the motorway, both buses moving as fast as the drivers’ tachometers would allow. Del could remember a time when she’d thought the travelling was interesting but she had been young and na├»ve back then.

3  I am working on vocabulary selection. I would like advice about the words I use in my work. Are they suitable for readers aged 8 and above?

As I’m sure you know, when it comes to feedback and comments, it is psychologically less damaging to hear/read something the commenter  really like about a piece.
If you are joining in – and I sincerely hope you do – please let respect, consideration and honesty be your core values. No one is perfect, when it comes to writing we are all at different places in our learning.

WHAT ARE YOU WRITING? HOW CAN WE HELP? 
TELL US ALL ABOUT IT, ON TUESDAY.

Monday, 18 June 2012

TELL US ABOUT IT TUESDAY


TELL US ABOUT IT TUESDAY
I followed the
How to Almost Make
a Blog Button Instructions
*hahaha

WHAT ARE YOU WRITING?
TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS…
What are you currently writing?
When do you think you will finish? 
What do you think you'll write next?


This is the teaser - the rest will be posted tomorrow, bright and early.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? ARE YOU UP FOR A LITTLE SHARING?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

6 SENTENCE SUNDAY - IS THE FATHER'S ROLE SIGNIFICANT?


We did... non-fiction.
“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway...let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”
~ C. JoyBell C.

Fathers play a significant role in my books although they are rarely present as the story unfolds.


MORTIMER CHILTON AND THE COLLECTIVE

In Mortimer's world the children live near their biological mothers and the role of father has been erased. Mortimer has no mother or father he has a parent, the only one his society believes necessary. 

All children, once they age beyond being a Small are allocated their own space with the other Low to keep them out of the Up and Adult rands.



6 SENTENCES FOR SUNDAY:


I kept lookout for my parent. Duty officers are busy; even allowing for that my P was conspicuously absent. I obsessed about seeing her.The first time I’d hacked into the deck cameras – which was a good year ago – I’d gotten more than surprised. When I checked the vid-feed for my deck, I found images of her in the corridor near my apartment. Not sometimes, she came by quite often. Her steps slowed but usually she kept on going. 


The impact of Mortimer's isolation, even among the other Low, is significant in shaping his response to the challenges he must face.

IN YOUR WIP, DOES YOUR MC'S FATHER COMMAND SIGNIFICANT IMPORTANCE?



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

TIP AND TEASER TUESDAY - MAGYK


Tip Tuesday is hosted by Joseph Conrad


"Every novelist must begin by creating for himself a world, great or little, in which he can honestly believe"


Believability is created when the social, human and physical world glints with realism and the details are consistent and dynamic. 



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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


I am rereading SEPTIMUS HEAP BOOK 1: Magyk  by Angie Sage


THIS, FROM THE BACK OF THE JACKET, GIVES A FLAVOUR OF THE BOOK:


DomDaniel has a plan. A member of the Heap family is a Major Obstacle to this plan. Major Obstacles don't tend to live for long... but then, you haven't met the Heaps. Or one Heap in particular. Let the Magyk, Mayhem and most incredible chase begin.


page 186 lines 16 to 20


There was one room downstairs; at one end was a huge open fireplace with a pile of gently smouldering logs still glowing on the hot stone hearth. Nicko and Boy 412 were fast asleep on the rug in front of the fire, each wrapped warmly in one of Aunt Zelda's patchwork quilts.



I am still addicted to the YA LitChat Pitch Slam. I've been reading and rereading the pitches in the light of the agent feedback with fascination.

The agents:


have been generously giving their time to respond to the the pitches. The feedback has been insightful. 

I still can't get the conflict arc into six sentences using only 5 to 6 lines of writing but I have been having fun trying ;)

DO YOU HAVE A METHOD - OR A MAGYK SPELL - YOU USE TO CONDENSE YOUR CONFLICTS INTO SIX SENTENCES?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

SCI-FI IS MATTER OF LIFE AND STATES


THE ALIEN EQUIVALENT
OF A BAD HAIR DAY?
NOT A PROBLEM, IT CAN ALWAYS
REFORM TOMORROW ;)
(HOSTED BY DALE CHIHULY'S
AMAZING CHANDELIERS)


I was sad, this week, when I heard that Ray Bradbury had died. For me, it was Ray Bradbury - and Star Trek - that fanned the spark of science fiction in me, the idea that there could be so much more than us in the dark out-there.

Science fiction is grounded in scientific fact

The science research behind MORTIMER CHILTON AND THE COLLECTIVE began in a class of ten and eleven year olds.

We were revising the three states of matter:

Solids, liquids and gases are called the three states of matter.
Materials can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling.

We were also discussing a NASA space mission…and aliens.

I’m not sure how the aliens worked their way into the science lesson, it’s a cosmic mystery.

We used the normal KS2 revision sites (for pupils aged 7 to 11) most of the time. This day someone researched more deeply and discovered there were not three states of matter at all.

There were four states of matter:
  1. solid
  2. liquid
  3. gas
  4. plasma


Obviously, we discussed the characteristics of each state.

How, on other planets, the life-forms could take their form in any state of matter.

When creating this explanation I turned to NASA and the ESA - Space in Bytes site

CHARACTERISTICS OF SOLIDS:
•             in solids, molecules are bound to tightly each other.
•             solids cannot be compressed

Most of the characters in MORTIMER CHILTON AND THE COLLECTIVE appear to be solid - but the human body is about 65% liquid.

FACTOID 1: Liquids, gases and plasmas can be grouped together as fluids.

FACTOID 2: The molecules of a fluid – LIQUID, GAS and PLASMA – are loosely bound or not bound at all. They can displace one another and flow.

In the case of alien life, we decided this would allow beings to alter their shape in response to different conditions.

We discussed how a shape that effectively stretched or contracted its molecules would be subject to stress.

CHARACTERISTICS OF LIQUIDS:
•             in liquids the distances between molecules are greater.
•             the forces between the molecules are also weaker than those in solids.
•             liquids cannot be compressed
•             they cannot support stress, so they deform.

Although solid, with an outer skin that held its form in place, one of the characters in MORTIMER CHILTON is 95% liquid.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GAS:
•             in gases the distance between the molecules are great
•             the forces between molecules are very weak
•             molecules move freely, disperse randomly and fill the available space
•             gases cannot support any applied stress.

In this book, none of the characters are gas – but I have plans.

CHARACTERISTICS OF PLASMA:
•             Plasma is an electrically charged gas
•             It behaves more like a liquid than a gas, due to the electromagnetic forces between its particles.

Many of the character in MORTIMER CHILTON is plasma. ;)

All is not lost; Mortimer is smart, he knows gravity plays a major role in the behaviour of fluids. Weightlessness can reveal unexpected properties of matter.

WHEN WRITING SCIENCE FICTION THE SCIENCE FACTS MUST BE ACCURATE OR PLAUSIBLE. 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SITE YOU VISIT TO DO YOUR RESEARCH?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

TUESDAY TEASER - SEDGWICK AND SNICKET - SOMETHING OLDER AND SOMETHING NEW


When the kitchen maids in Flood and Fang were going missing
this was where they should have been:
half way up a tree, and reading ;) 


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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


I adored the Book Bites image (above)
it seemed very appropriate for my
book choice.

The book I have been enjoying today is full of unusual details, extensive vocabulary and beautifully crafted sentences. The gothic Otherhand family are far-removed-from-normal. They are all very strange. Their story is narrated by pompous Edgar, the raven, who maintains his distance. He becomes aware of the danger as he has a bird's eye view of everything that is unfolding around him. He recounts how the Otherhand family deal with the danger is original (slightly weird) and very funny.

FLOOD AND FANG ~THE RAVEN MYSTERIES Book 1

Ask an ornithologist what the lifespan of a raven is, and they will tell you with smug certainty that the raven lives for twenty years in the wild, maybe twice as long in captivity. So tell me then how it is that I can remember seeing the ancient oak on the far side of the valley when it sprouted from an acorn.

I love Edgar's voice. :D

The first pages of Lemony Snicket's new book have been posted on The Guardian's Children's book site! I LOVE the hook.

LEMONY SNICKET ~ "Who Could That Be at This Hour?"

There was a town, and there was a girl and there was a theft. I was living in the town, and I was hired to investigate the theft, and I thought the girl had nothing to do with it. I was almost thirteen and I was wrong. I was wrong about all of it.

ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR CURRENT READ? WHICH BOOK ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO READING?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

7 WRITING ESSENTIALS AND SOME JUBILEE CAKES


I made cakes for our Jubilee Street Party.
Mine don't look like these from The Arch House Deli
but I wish they did.

JUBILEE!

Happy Diamond Jubilee to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth!

With the Jubilee celebrations eating into my time, I prepared the short list of everything I need when I'm writing.


1    Time
When I settle down to write, I need to know I have found quality time, uninterrupted by any kind of real-life.

2    Pictures
I pin photos of my characters, and the settings, on the boards around my desk. The images keep me straight – I have been known to colour them scruffy if the going’s been rough.

3    Computer
Despite the fact that, if a scene is going slowly, I will write in pen until the flow is smooth again – I find, nothing beats research at the click of a key.

4    Rehydration
Coffee, tea, water, diet cola I'm partial to them all. When I'm writing, I don’t have a preference only a need ;)

5    Backup
I was obsessive but recent events have moved me closer to paranoid. These days, I use a flash drive, Dropbox, and I email sections to myself.

6    Betas
Without feedback it seems like there’s a huge chasm between me and a finished product.

7    Sleep
I survive with very little sleep. Six hours equals a good night for me – four hours is, unfortunately, common. If, for any reason, four becomes the average it impacts on my typing – a head on the keyboard will do that ;)

I bet the Queen's list of essentials would be very similar, although it might also include corgi-time. I read she has named the newest litter after characters from Harry Potter *sweet :D

DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE?