Tag Archives: New Zealand

I am in love with…

Toni Jordan.

and my most recent favourite bit of advice, forget about the editing…for now.

I am currently taking part in her First Draft Post Mortem course with Writers Victoria and think it is just brilliant. It’s a four week course where we dissect our manuscripts and reassemble them (taking the postmortem metaphor way too far, we are becoming Mary Shelleys I guess, although hopefully creating something far less monstrous 🙂 )

I missed the first installment of this class when the family and I were jaunting about in New Zealand, I had considered flying back early to attend the class but the cost was just crazy. After attending the second class, I kinda wish I had.

One of the things Toni spoke about that stuck quite firmly in my mind is not to consider the editing process at all when writing your first draft. The first draft should be the draft of your heart, the one that you love/have to write. Don’t think about story arcs, about character development, about internal, interpersonal and physical conflict, about three or five acts, about the creation and resolution of tension. Just write the damn thing. If you spend your time rereading and editing and being concerned about producing the perfect saleable or publishable manuscript while you are creating it, you run the risk of removing all your freshness and creativity.

It was such a nice thing to realise, to release myself from the pressure of editing until the story is written.

the draft of your heart

The frightening thing I next realised ws how vastly different my finished manuscript will ultimately be to my first draft. It’s incredible to think I will practically rewrite this entire thing! Holy moly!

Another little snippet I found reassurring was when I highlighted the fact that as my story evolved the voices of the two narrators have become more and more similar and I suspected I would need to rewrite narrator 2 in close third person. Toni revealed that she writes first in first person and then rewrites into third person, that way she finds she understands the character better. The rewrite will be a big job, but I now feel approaching it from this perspective, that it doesn’t need to be polished just yet, it has freed me up to finish writing the draft, continue in first person but not worry about the distinctiveness of the voices quite so much.

But woah nelly is there some work ahead of me!

On the bright side it is just one week to my self designed mini writers retreat. Ok the writer isn’t mini, the retreat is, but you know what I mean 🙂

Any suggestions on how to structure my weekend? I intend to greatly increase my manuscript’s word count, but think I also need to have a few other writing exercises – maybe some flash fiction (perhaps something from the previous challenges set by the brilliant Chuck Wendig), maybe a little rewrite of the first person 2nd narrator into a third person – open to suggestions.

A date with my characters

I have been naughty and neglectful of my poor characters. They’ve been stuck in a suspended state of animation for weeks now. I’ve been off gallivanting around New Zealand, reading too many lovely and inspiring blogs, working too hard, blah, blah, blah.

Hello, are you still there? What happens next?? Write the next chapter for crying out loud!

In the meantime these poor characters have been stranded, and exciting things happened to them really recently. They must be so p’ed off at me right now. I’d be furious at me if I were them.

Surely they want to know what’s going to happen next, to be honest so do I.

But I promise to get back to them, to get back to writing. I kind of need to. It’s an odd odd sensation, I write everyday for work, but I’m feeling antsy, almost anxious because I need to get back to my manuscript. I really really do.

This Easter break I WILL find some hours to let those poor characters know a little more of their journey. And even more exciting I convinced the wonderful Bman of the perfect birthday present for me (my birthday is on Easter Sunday, three more sleeps, not that I’m counting or anything) – a mini writing retreat.

Look at those books, so beautiful! From cimarron.com.au

I found a fabulous B&B not too far from where I live, worked out a deal and will actually head off for 2 nights in early May. Two nights away from Little Man (which I’ve never done before), a couple of days to just write, oh and sleep in, never underestimate the sheer luxury of sleep, sleep in the mornings, I remember sleep in the mornings, I think.

Snap out of it! A writing retreat – yeah baby!! That sounds so writerly. I am unreasonably excited – yippee 🙂

Familiarity breeds readers, not contempt

Sorry for the brief silence, I am currently holidaying with the Bman and the Little Man in the Land of the Long White Cloud and our connection to the internet world has been patchy at best.

We are here after a midnight flight from Australia for a family reunion at Womad and having a fabulous time.

Last night we had our little gypsy camp of campervans, house trucks and tents set up in a beautiful scenic reserve, complete with marshmallows and roaring fire, divine. This does have a writing connection, bare with me!

<<This is our camper, me in the window with a cup of wine!, and my inlaw’s gorgeous house truck!, yes this is in a paddock, not the gorgeous reserve of last night!>>

The surroundings were lush, vibrant and green, not all that different from reserves I’ve been to in Australia. In fact at one point I almost asked our locally based family if we could expect to see kangaroos at dusk and dawn as we would back home. But of course we’re in New Zealand, not Australia, kangaroos don’t roam the wilds of NZ. While I knew we were on holiday intellectually, the sense of familiarity was still there. And here’s my point, finally 🙂

When we write, it is this sense of familiarity that makes our readers comfortable and able to lose themselves in the story and world we have created. Even if that story is uncomfortable by nature, the familiarity of setting, of emotion, of action,  provides touchstones that a reader can understand and relate to.

This is the case even if the world created is completely foreign, in outer space, if the protagonist is a serial killer, an alien, a child or an earthworm, far removed from our actual experience, the sense of familiarity is essential for reader engagement. But what creates that sense of familiarity can vary widely, a character’s reactions, internal dialogue, a place, a smell, an interaction, weather.

So there’s my point, how do you make your readers comfortable? How do you make them want to return again and again to your story, because they love what you have created, they remember it because they recognised and connected with something.

Off for nibbles and wine…..