Tag Archives: writing

On track…so far

Quick update via my phone as I’m not connecting my laptop to the wife – too distracting!
November 1 was yesterday, in order to achieve 50,000 words by 30 November you need to average 1667 words per day. Last night I got 1780 before I really had to go to bed. Time to get moving on today’s target.
Sending inspirational vibes out to all participating in NaNoWriMo  (National Novel Writing Month) – it can be done!

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There’s something to this planning thing….

So the dreaded planning stage has actually proved helpful. I was talking to a school mum the other day and she mentioned a book she had recently read, she said it had a fantastic premise but really had nowhere to go after that, she’d enjoyed the read but the flaw stood out.

I thought the rest of the day and realised that was exactly the problem I had with the story I had planned for November, and was also (one of the many) reason I was struggling so with the planning. There really was no plot at all.

I sat at the computer on Wednesday, totally stumped. What was I going to write? There were four days until November started and I honestly thought I was going to have to skip it this year. But I really didn’t want to. So I read the paper online, panicked, almost called BMan to appeal for help.

And then bam. A news story that I read and said – what if? – what happened after that? why? And a character name popped into my head, and another one. There needs to be 3, of course, him, he needs to be there too. I stream of conscious wrote the idea out – there was story, there was conflict, there was crisis points, there were 3 characters that are different from each other but have similar roots to the dramas in their lives.

I started planning, yes I did. I started with the character sketches from the Snowflake method  I added in a category to establish the inner, interpersonal and physical conflict needed for each character. One was easy, one took a bit, I was making him far too nice, once I roughed him up a bit it was easier. But last night the third had me stumped, I had the same problem as the previous story idea, a great reason for her, a great set up but no depth, I couldn’t see her. I would have realised this far too late if I hadn’t been doing the planning exercise, she just would have been a weak character and would have frustrated me no end.

It was late (it’s always late, so sorry BMan, Novembers are a challenge for you too!) and so I decided to call it a night. Hopped in the shower, the story running all through my brain. And then it came to me, how to solve the 3rd character’s problems and the realisation she doesn’t need a crisis point, hers starts the manuscript, the rest of her story arc is getting past the drama. I had to go back to the computer and quickly type it out before I forgot it all . The world needs some sort of shower proof computing system, I often solve writing problems in the shower!

So 3 characters: Helen’s crisis starts the novel and then we see her deal with the fall out, realise what she thought she wanted was actually her worst nightmare, and start to rebuild her life. Evie’s crisis comes in the middle, forced into finally making decisions, her life that she hated is forced into change and she gradually starts to build a new life. Walt’s crisis comes right at the end. His life is on a gradual decline throughout the story until his crisis point.

There’s still time to do some more planning. I know I need a couple of minor characters, I know I need an ex boyfriend, a best friend, a husband and a son but they are shadowy at the moment, none of them have names yet.

But it’s better, I stand a chance of getting something half decent out of it now!

I may do a flash fiction from one of the side stories as a warm up, bring on Sunday November 1!

 

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….

 

Say it isn’t so :(

I’m a little bit in mourning, yesterday was the last day of my Refine Your Novel course. I am going to miss it so much, I enjoy looking forward to it and I enjoy the work while I’m there and I love the motivation in the days after it.

I’m also going to miss the tutor. I did this course with Toni Jordan 3 years ago so this is my second go around with her and she was just fantastic. This last day is possibly my favourite. In my favourite exercise she gives us an early draft of her debut novel, but a version very close to what she sent to her publishers, and then a photocopy of the printed book and she gets us to mark up the changes, of which there are many. This is incredibly brave of Toni and so helpful to us writers. It’s all well and good hearing about the things you need to do to a manuscript to whip it into shape, it’s another matter entirely to see and create a real life example.

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That’s a lot of green pen!

While we work on this, Toni takes a sample of our manuscript and line edits it for us. Most of us provide our first 1500 words, 3 years ago she marked up the first page for me (of a different manuscript) this time she marked up three pages. It’s such a fantastic opportunity, to see where it is you need to concentrate, where you’re going right and where you’re missing the mark.

20150726_152903And in a bit of a fan girl moment I got my copy of her first novel signed.

There’s much to be done, so much…

Little update

Maxine Beneba Clarke (Foreign Soil) and Emily Bitto (The Strays)

Maxine Beneba Clarke (Foreign Soil) and Emily Bitto (The Strays)

So I saw these two fantastic authors recently at an even put on by my local library. It was a brilliant talk that I’ll review shortly (as I’ve left my notebook elsewhere!). But I will encourage you to go out and purchase or go online and purchase both their books – Emily Bitto The Strays I selected as the next book club read when I host, and Maxine Beneba Clarke’s short story collection Foreign Soil I have just started.

I have my last instalment of the Refine Your Novel course this weekend. I am going to miss it terribly, there’s nothing like attending a course to motivate you in the days immediately before and after it! I am only at about 13,500 words into my rewrite, but hitting places where I can use almost entire paragraphs from my first draft, so that is nice. This is the class where Toni Jordan takes our first few pages (or whatever else you have elected to bring) and line edits it for you – humbling.

And a wee note on technology. I am working out of my usual library haunt today and have a bit of a crazy set up. My lovely littel red netbook is on its last legs and works terribly slowly, it moves into glacial when connected to the library wifi, so I also brought along my flash work MacBook that is only about 2 months old. The sleek Mac I keep for work use, not my personal stuff, but I keep it open for a quick web search, check of email and also to answer the odd work email (gotta quit doing that on writing days!). Then I realised I had some photos on my phone I needed for something so I opened that up to email them across. And my Koko ereader is on charge.

I look pretty ridiculous, I’d find me annoying! Gonna close the Mac, the ereader’s probably charged enough to put back in my bag.

Ah, that’s better 🙂

Side effects

The ripple effects of little coincidental things that happen in your life are interesting. Don’t worry I’m not getting deep and profound on you, its an observation on writing.

So as you know I joined this book club. An invitation that came about by coincidence, one of the mums at school and I were classroom helpers on the same day, we turned up one week to great apologies that their schedule had been changed and we weren’t needed. Her other kids were being looked after so we were both free for a couple of hours, went for a coffee and got chatting and she invited me to join book club.

Book club (or wine club as it is often unfairly but accurately described) has required me to read a number of books I would not have normally picked up. This month we are reading The Messenger by Markus Zusak. Everyone knows his novel The Book Thief , The Messenger is nothing like that, it is a YA novel, very Australian and I’m really enjoying it, based on the blurb I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. I do like a YA read now and then, but modern gritty YA, not my first choice. This novel is fantastic, Zusak is such an accomplished writer with incredible turns of phrase.

So to the side effect. While reading this, the conversations I am writing between my two main characters have improved out of sight. They have become much more natural and effortless, the dialogue is starting to speak to a comfortable familiarity and a shared past. I think I actually did a better job of this in the first draft and I’ve made them a little too serious in this incarnation.

A piece of advice that is regularly trotted out to writers is to read and read widely. It’s mentioned so often that I skim over it and ignore it, I do read, a lot. But every so often I get why.

 

You Googled what??

After my recent adverb rant I have been trundling along nicely on my rewrite. I’ve even been able to use the odd sentence from draft 1, and I’ve passed the 10,000 word mark.

Today as I typed away I realised I’ve done some Google searches this week, that while are not strange as such, as a group they present an odd picture. While it doesn’t really give you an insight into the story (at all) I thought it interesting as a snapshot of the complexities of novels. Of the little bits and bobs authors include in order to make something seem seamless.

So over the last week or so I have Googled:

  • how to describe dull blonde
  • travel first aid kits
  • do australian citizens need a visa for hawaii
  • themes of moby dick
  • volcanic zones of the world
  • volcano zones
  • amazing fantasy 15 cgc 8.0
  • can you open a CGC graded comic?
  • storing graded comics
  • films released in 2002
  • darwin awards