Tag Archives: writing challenge

Oooh look something shiny

Just stop it – focus for crying out loud! I know I hate to plan, everyone knows it. But it’s November on Sunday, today is Wednesday, this story wont get written unless there’s some sort of plan.

I am brilliant at procrastination, how good is Adele’s new song? listening to it now, awesome. See what I did there? That was actually what was happening in my brain as I typed – I am far too easily distracted when faced with a task I don’t really want to do. Last night I spent far too long looking up name generators…

But I do want to write the story, I really do. And I know deep down if I do this planning before I write it the process will be easier. I know I can ignore some of the details of the plan, I won’t feel bound by the outline. But what I will have already embedded in the draft will be a kind of three act structure, characters with internal and external conflict, character development arcs, basically all the stuff I am trying to include in my rewrites of other manuscripts.

So quit it Bel, quit procrastinating. No this post does NOT need a picture, you don’t need to spend 20 minutes searching for creative commons pics. Spend 20 mins on the Snowflake method and get that plan going – you don’t have many days left! Okay, finding and getting the widget working only took 6 minutes – I’m going now, really I am….

 

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Give me back my adverbs!

Apparently one (of the many) signs that a manuscript is the work of a debut novelist in the liberal use of adverbs. Those fabulous words that end in ‘ly’ – angrily, lazily, happily, quickly, easily, wistfully, loudly – you get the picture.

By rights we need to pare their use way way back. Use the action in the scene to replace the adverb, if someone strides across the room to slap someone’s face, you don’t need the word quickly, it’s kinda obvious by what is going on.

And while there are no hard and fast rules, in our Refine Your Novel course we’ve been told that it is not uncommon to be advised to restrict yourself to four adverbs per manuscript – 4 per 80,000 words! Now the point is to get us thinking about our word choices of course, not to play policeman on our manuscripts.

So I am 9000 words into the redraft and periodically find myself coming to a screaming halt as I’ve thrown in yet another adverb. I’m writing a small piece of a larger scene where one character hands another a rare comic. It’s a small gesture in the larger scene but of course I want it to convey the respect and reverence for the precious object. He handed it gingerly, reverently arrrrrrr! I WILL not say He gave! And then I look back at the 21 words in the short para I’ve written leading up to this adverb dilemma and realise I’ve alread used two adverbs in those 21 words! This is obviously something I need to look at more closely!

Angrily, lamentably, brazenly, laughingly signing off 🙂

Flash fiction – in search terms

This week I have been thinking a lot about short forms of fiction. Another advertising sign I love that tells a story of complex possibilities hangs on a road in Melbourne, it’s been there for years and simply says ‘Going to Europe? You’ll need a coat’

image It always makes me think, it’s a little phrase but it suggests that you are coming from somewhere so warm you don’t already have a coat, and perhaps wouldn’t have considered packing one. That you are travelling somewhere so strange you need to purchase special protective gear. And how do they know what I’ll be doing, how do they know I’ll need a coat. What would happen if I don’t have one? Heck I better get one before it’s too late! Maybe it’s just me.

Also I’ve been contemplating the book I need to choose for the next book club I am due to host. It’s not until October so I have time, but I’m considering a book of short stories. I’ve picked up a couple from the library to read and see if they are suitable. Of course there’s an Alice Munro, Dear Life – she won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I have to at least consider her, I also have Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Have you read any of these? Any recommendations?

And to the flash fiction. Good old Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds posed a flash fiction challenge to tell a story in Google search terms. He used this great example from @AbrasiveGhost:

Cat armour
buy armour for cats
Cat jousting tournaments
How to stop armoured cats
Cat army how to stop
National guard phone #

– Great isn’t it? So I am having a great time at the moment on my rewrite. I wanted to do a flash fiction but didn’t want to steal the time from my rewrite so I quickly dashed out a flash fiction search term story. Here ’tis!

Getting past a bad day
Getting past a really really bad day
Bad luck
Difference between bad luck and curse
Am I cursed
Removing curses
Kittens free to good home

Have a great weekend folks!!

Minor characters – he’s a natural

A couple of weeks ago I had the second class in me Refine Your Novel course, it was fantastic but I was pretty unwell so went into hibernation for a week. However the day after the class I pulled out my laptop and made myself comfy on the couch and attemped to start the redraft. Little Man (who is 7) decided he’d had enough of basketball in the front yard and joined me in a writing session. He started a story, he’s written two and a half chapters and I have to say I am a wee bit proud.

little man at workHe instinctively understood some of the tips we had learned the day before, particularly about minor characters. We had been talking about minor characters and avoiding cliche, making them something unexpected. So Little Man’s story started with a smart boy names Zac Powers (a character in a book series he likes) who climbs a mountain and finds a sword. He encounters a knight who has four rings and wants the one ring that Zac has because then she would be the most powerful in the world. See what my clever Little Man did there? He initially wrote the knight in as a he, as you would expect, he finished the sentence, studied it for a moment and then backtracked to make it she. He looked at me, raised one eyebrow, smiled and went back to work.

I didn’t get much done that day but thoroughly enjoyed myself 🙂

 

Ahh, routine, welcome back!

School returned late last week after the long Christmas break and Little Man was squeezed into last year’s uniform some lunchbox fodder hastily arranged and off he went, happy as a clam.

And that means my work hours return to a more stable pattern and my free time for writing returns – huzzah!

draft 2With only a few weeks until my Writers Victoria course Refine Your Novel starts I need to do some serious work on my first draft. It has some pretty big issues that I know about, some flat secondary characters, a sister that disappears for half the novel, some additional tension that needs a ramp up, a backstory that kind of exists but needs more integrating.

So last night I popped online and uploaded my nanowrimo draft to Officeworks. Their little worker bees toiled away and this morning I went into the store and collected a printed out copy of my draft – it’s a hefty tome and soon to be covered in scribble marks methinks! Yes, these draftpics are of the actual manuscript – felt a bit guilty printing single sided, but those blank pages will get messy.

Thanks sabrakay for the kick in the pants that was your WIP Progress post, it may have seemed simple to you, but motivated me! .

Flash fiction – Next to Godliness

Recently I mentioned I have recently discovered podcasts. One in particular I have been enjoying is called Writing Excuses – short 15 minute discussions about a variety of writing tips and trends. At the end of each episode they feature a writing prompt – I wanted to list some here and thought I really should only do so if I have taken up the challenge myself.

So, the first prompt I chose is:

Develop a religion where people worship something that no one would ever worship (and it can’t be silly)

I’ll post the first few paras here, click on the link to the full version. I’d love to read if anyone else feels compelled to respond to the challenge.

Please enjoy: Next to Godliness

Kaylee wakes, instantly alert and active. Two years ago it was much harder to drag herself into wakefulness when her phone vibrated at 3am, her body would protest, reluctant to leave the warm cocoon of her blankets. But by now it’s easy, second nature.

About six months ago she started going to bed fully dressed, that had been Laura’s idea and it was a good one. Richard barely noticed her leaving anymore, she stilled her phone after less than a second, slid from under the covers and moved quickly out of the dark room. Her shoes and a warm jacket waited for her in the hall and she was in the car in less than four minutes.

road-at-night_2651004The streets are notably busier than when Kaylee started her daily pilgrimage. Two years ago the dark roads were deserted, traffic lights changing and directing non-existent cars at empty intersections. This morning she waits three minutes at the end of her street for a break in the stream of cars. She’s going to need to start getting up earlier or she’ll be too far from the gates to see anything. Read more

Beautifying the beast

Excited!A Happy New Year present to me! I’m am so excited, I have booked in to take part in this fantastic course at Writers Victoria and I am bursting to get started!

Those long suffering of you will perhaps remember Iong, long ago I attended a First Draft Post Mortem series at Writers Victoria, run by the fantastic Toni Jordan (I wrote about it here). I LOVED it, and yet didn’t take full advantage of it as I hadn’t completed the manuscript I was workshopping. When I finished my Nanowrimo project in November I looked around and found Toni was once again running a series in 2015 – Refine Your Novel.

And I had this…well I want to say shiny new manuscript, but I have this grotty, misshapen beast of a manuscript that is just waiting for a blowtorch and some plastic surgery.

It was meant to be. Yippee!