Thursday, 24 March 2011

Writing Exercise 11: Water

The elements are open to much interpretation. This exercise is about focusing on the aspects of water. It's inspired by the video for We Want War by These New Puritans, below. 

The only requirement of this exercise is to write about a character obsessed with water. Narrated directly or indirectly, you choose. He/she could be suicidal, considering drowning, could be rabid and terrified of water, could be a health nut or obsessed with cleanliness or just someone who loves water. The possibilities are endless.
But there should be one particular character that draws you more than the others you come up with and one aspect of water that best appeals to you: fluidity, clarity... etc.

Final ROW update: Ha Ha! Just!

I believed yesterday that I had nearly finished! Just one small scene to go, and actually spent the day celebrating rather than finishing! But just this minute have finished my first draft. I already have a list of issues to revise in the second draft but it shouldn't be half as challenging to edit than my NaNo, which sits, looking daunting, on a shelf.

Im off to have it printed and spiral-bound tomorrow! With an extra wide margin for red-pen notes.

Congratulations to everyone else who made it, and everyone who tried!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Writing Exercise 12: Funny Pic-Turned-Idea

I saw this comic and just had to laugh:

But then I thought that there are probably lots of crazy unconsidered theories for the death of the dinosaurs.

This prompt is not so much about creating prose, as brainstorming ideas. (If you've read my conclusions on Wolf Hall, you'll know how it upset me that poor prose is acceptable if it supports a good idea. Let's learn by example. The idea is more important than the quality, in the eyes of an agent, so it's definitely an area that we can all work on.)

So go, and bring back insane but convincing theories as to who killed the dinosaurs. Mass suicide perhaps? The rat-like beings that preceded us tripped them all up? I'm sure you'll think of something better.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Characters: What Made the Greats Great?

Real life characters.

I'm mentioning reality because isn't it the aim of most writers to take great believable characters, even if they can be a little exaggerated, and putting them into neat little plots of our own malicious devising?

The BBC gives a list of resources with a very brief history tied to each name. You may be a learned scholar but I doubt that you'll know every person on this list. For example I didn't know Edward Jenner, pioneer of immunology.

These are the people that have stuck, the ones that are remembered (even if we're not as brushed up as we should be).

From the examples there's a lot of raw material to work with. Take one character and inverse them? Cross them with another? Adjust and tweak and I feel this may be the perfect source for strong characters.

If you have an eye you may pick up on a trend amongst them. It may be all you need for your own infinite source of majestic and long-lasting characters. (Notice that I never said 'good'. Check out Anne Boleyn. I had forgotten the end to her tale.)

Here's the link:

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Row Update: the Winding Path to Victory

It seems I must always have highs and lows in writing - two days of absurdly fast scribbling followed by two days of wanting to write but constantly deleting each line written.
Today ought to be an up day! I keep thinking about the deadline. It has made my good days even more productive and my low days even less.
There's only so much self-slapping I can administer. =P

By the way, did you catch the moon illusion last night?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Row Update - Late

I had a day, I'm sure everyone gets this, where I took one look at my work and thought: 'Crap. I can't bring myself to work on this. It's awful.'

I've had them before. They go away with a good nap or a good outing. But that day I picked up my next book to read, Wolf Hall, got three pages in and thought: 'Crap! It's not just my imagination.' Then I picked up another potential book, written by a nobel prize winner in literature, and also found it crap. I think that, right there, shows I was having an off day.

Reading on with Wolf Hall, I realised I had reason, though it didn't occur to me at the time: half the time 'he' refers to the protagonist, who is names all of two times in every ten pages, other times it refers the rest of the rather massive cast of male characters. I could never tell who was speaking. Even so, the story's interesting. I suppose it proves a point: the idea of the book is more important than the quality of the prose. Yet I feel a constant itch to critique it a la scribophile.

So, back to progress, it's creeping forward, happy to say, and I'm starting to be happy with  half-finished query letter.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Alert! Authonomy! Alert!

'Ello, what's all this then?

Here I was hearing horror stories about how the publishing industry dictates what we get on our shelves, as a sort of automaton that picks based on random impulses. But (thanks to reading the fine print on the inside of Wolf Hall) I was lead to discover

Who of you knew of this site? It should be made known to everyone who likes to read, let alone write.

Participants can post the first 10,000 words min of a manuscript and readers dictate trends based on how much these are liked, which attracts the attention of the publishers and editors of HarperCollins. People who stories that grow on to become high-ranking are marked as talent spotters and their tastes given more weight. It really is a way for letting people other than publishers decide what should be published and I hope to see this website grow to bursting point with life and activity from the book-loving community, though I fear the exact opposite will happen.

Let's take charge!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Writing Exercise 11: Re-Writing Memories

The latest and most accepted theory about long-term memories in the brain is that every time we remember a memory, we re-write it in our brains. Usually as almost identical. These different versions, all stored together, combine to for the memory you will conjure up the next time, which will have another copy, slightly different, saved.

It's a bit of a concept to wrap your head around. Surely the memories you hold dear haven't changed in your mind. In essence probably not, though they have been updated with newer versions of the same thing.

Anyway, to the exercise.

1) Write a 200-250 word scene.
2) re-write it without looking at the first story you wrote. Just using memory.
3) Do this again, based on your latest version until you have three or four variations of the same scene.
What do they have in common?
What changed?
If it doesn't teach you about your writing style, it'll still help you realise the essence of your ideas which run through your stories and hopefully make editing less painful, knowing there are hundreds of ways to get your same essence across.

The Essence of Evil by *BlackMysticA on deviantART

Sunday, 6 March 2011

ROW update

I must hang my head in shame.

I have been meaning, time and again, to work my hours. I think I've rendered the concept of deadlines moot. But life happens and my ultimate, final, be all and end all deadline is the end of ROW. I have to remember that and not wince at the lack of time.

I am sorry for not commenting on enough blogs. (I usually have nothing to say beyond 'I read your post.' How dull for a writer!) I have been reading quite a few though and it's good to know I'm not alone, though it doesn't make me feel less guilty.

Good luck to all who've made it this far! We still have time to reach the ultimate ROW goals, no matter how far behind, if we start getting really serious from now.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Writing Exercise 10: Novel Scenes

While struggling with own plot/premise writing issues (it's my biggest weakness) I came up with this method as one way to let the plot work itself out for me.

Firstly, I must show you this fun little plot generator. It's not necessary for this exercise but is certainly my favourite way of doing it: generator link

The point is to write a scene not from the beginning, nor the end, but from somewhere in the middle of a novel. As you put down words, your characters' frictions between each other might tell you about how they got into their muddle. Or you might suddenly realise a perfect ending to this novel you've never even written. It's just a brain-stretcher. Stuff has happened, stuff will happen, but isn't necessarily happening at the moment.

I find the little generator gives me a definite middle to start with, though the scene I end up writing may be nothing like that given to me.

(Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein from the scene where he brings his monster to life, which ended up nearly a third of the way into the final draft.)

Or you could use:

The road to the middle by =roadioarts on deviantART

Row Update

Finally on my feet again and full of beans! ... and the last remaining dreggs of mucus.

Well, it's the last month and what have we here? First draft, not complete yet (will it ever be). Revision of another draft, not done. Yes, I'm focusing on quality over quantity but I'm starting to despair at the number of setbacks. (Starting?) Life's not easy, but I still expect it to be. (And babysitting three days a week really throws off a writing groove.)

Well, off to attempt a massive catch up. I think I might stay up all night, just for the heck of it