Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Writing Tip #1

[The first scene should]
Establish voice and tone, orient readers in time and space, either start conflict or hint at conflict to come, and - above all - offer the reader something interesting: an intriguing character, a tense situation, a fascinating question, or gorgeous prose.

Quote by Nancy Kress

Monday, February 02, 2015

All the Bright Places Contest entry

 (Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net)


So the prompt is writing about the place that inspires you most in 555 words.
I don't think I'm going to send my entry in, since I don't live in the US and therefore would forfeit the award IF I had won because they don't post to outside the US yet.

There’s nothing all that flash about it. The bungalows are white, square, flat-roofed; fairly unpretentious.  Each bungalow has an arched, terracotta tiled balcony with rounded, steel railings in reds, blues and yellows. A plain, creaky old plastic chair and a small round glass table is the only company on the balcony. 
It doesn’t sound fantastic, or look all that lush, but you can melt into that chair and stare at the view just beyond the railing for hours. The Atlantic licks at the white, sandy crescent of beach, and you can watch dolphins play closer to the horizon. Sometimes, you’d spot a seal or two – and sometimes, one of them will waddle up onto the rocks and bake in the heat of the sun. It’s always best to stray clear of them, and probably of the water, too, since Great White Sharks aren’t shy about coming close to shore here.
 Fortunately, just beyond the rocks where the seals have a rest, is a clear blue swimming pool for everyone to enjoy. It’s probably better, in my opinion, since the water is bound to be warmer than that of the ocean.  That’s just me. There are plenty of people out in the water on body-boards and jet-skis. If it’s a windy day, it’s the best place to fly a kite – or maybe not, considering some of the gale force winds that randomly attack the enclosed area from time to time. 
You can go for a walk on the pier and take shelter under the white canopies of the seafood caf├ęs that line the small promenade, but I prefer the balcony. It gives shade at just the right time of the day, and it gives sun and heat at just the right length of the time, too. You can sit there and relax, let your mind wander across the deep blue surface before you, and write to your hearts’ content. The only interruptions are the occasional shrieks of enjoyment from the other patrons on the beach, or a small flock of seagulls fighting over a chip. 
The sun comes up early and it goes down late. You’d be surprised how late. Chances are you’d miss your regular bedtime because the sun will just be starting to tint the horizon in orange and grey, when you’d suddenly wake up and realize that the day should have ended an hour or two ago – and still, you’d sit there, waiting to make sure the sun is really going to sleep before you let the shadows chase you into the golden warmth of the bungalow. 
You’d wake up the next morning with a refreshed ‘ah’, and do it all over again. It’s a modest little piece of paradise, and the best place to write.

If you're in the US and want to enter the contest, the deadline is 20th Feb. Go to Figment.com and sign up.

Happy writing!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Setting Up Some Writerly Things


I think I need a break from my novel, despite not having really written anything for a week.
One of the local writer's groups that I'm part of on Facebook shared a writing contest for a magazine from our neighbours across the ditch. I had a look at it, being the curious person I am, but decided I'm probably not cut out for what they're looking for (political and cultural themes - things that only apply in my fantasy world but that I don't dabble in much otherwise).

It got me thinking, however.

So I scrolled down the group page some more and found that someone had shared a link to another writing group called 'Aerogramme Writers' Studio'. I hopped on over and opened Pandora's Box.

I've signed myself up for a few writing competitions:

~ Becoming a Teacher article for In Fact Books (creative non-fiction)
Deadline: 9th March 2015
[Note: I'm an Education Support Worker for children with special/extra needs]

~ Fables and Folklore Short Story for Papercuts
Max: 3-3.5k
Deadline: 15 March 2015

~ New, unpublished stories only for the Bristol Short Story Prize ( £8.00 per entry)
Max: 4k
Prize: Get published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 8 (and a lot of pounds and some vouchers)
Deadline: 30 April 2015

~ Short story for Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest
Prize: $
Submissions Open: 1 July 2015
More details to come.

And once I've got my Nano 2014 draft complete, rewritten, scrutinized on Scribophile, revised and proofread and edited to my best ability, I'll be submitting it for digital publishing to Momentum.

I figured that since it's a kids' writing contest that got me into writing in the first place, I should pick up the habit again and start sending my work in. Maybe I'll get lucky and get published, maybe I won't, either way, at least I'll be doing something productive.

Happy writing, my friends!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Listening to: BF4 replays
Mood: Curious and hungry
Reading: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Writing: Chronicles of Derenvere - Black & White (Book 1)

I thought I'd write a quick update on what's happened (and not happened) since December.
I haven't finished my Nano novel. I've only barely scraped the surface of chapter seven at the moment. Not that it's a case of writers' block or anything like that, but things have been going on that have kept me from knuckling down and writing. You know, things like LIFE, in all its unexpected glory. 

That doesn't mean I've run dry on ideas, though. I've done a very rough edit of what I've got so far and uploaded it online for friends and family (and possibly total strangers) to have a read through. I can go into the excuses of it's just the first draft, I haven't put much editorial work into it yet, yadiyada, but at this stage since I'm still in the throes of writing the whole story down, it's more the ideas and concepts' feedback that I'm curious to hear, rather than the nitty-gritty like pacing and voice and grammar. Thus far the feedback has been positive and motivating.

I've dotted down the outline for chapter seven (for the second time) and will be merging it with the original outline I've got in my notes, which I didn't have handy at the time. You know how it goes: you plot and bullet-point outline what needs to happen in this chapter, until you actually get to that chapter and stop to reconsider because x, y and z has spontaneously occurred in the previous chapter and you need to keep unwinding those little threads into the next chapters, to keep the story intact. The outline changes, maybe only slightly, maybe a lot, and you go with it until the next chapter.

I'm a natural pantser, ie. I follow the story rather than having the story follow me. So I prefer to write without notes; I always saw them as unnecessary since I could easily plunge back into the different stories and worlds I'd created and remember the details as I went along. Now I feel lost without my notes; I have to comb through my work at least twice just to make sure I haven't mixed up some detail like names or eye colours. Notes are very handy things to have. I need them, for this novel anyway, to help me lay out the stepping stones for what's to come.

I am, actually, just rambling. There's no real point to this post other than saying 'hey, I haven't made my deadline but I'm still working on it!' I've got all my books and notes (books full of notes?) spread out around me and all I've been doing for the past hour is staring at the outline for chapter seven and writing this blog post, just to be writing SOMETHING. It's not a case of not being able to write. I could, quite easily.

The problem comes when I have to call it a night. I know it would be like I blink and it'll be 2am in the morning. Unfortunately that won't do, not with three kids who get up way too early to demand their breakfast and a full on day ahead. So I could write, I could pull an all-nighter if I really wanted to. But this time, the fact that I'd be a zombie and terrible company and have an hour's (or two) drive waiting for me tomorrow, on top of already struggling to find energy during the day (like I said, life things happen), far outweighs my need for sleep than my inspired muse trying to suck me back into writing.