Sunday, 4 November 2012

Let me tell you something...

...My first drafts include an awful lot of telling, and not a lot of showing. My first drafts are generally a lot shorter than they should be. My first drafts are rubbish. But you know what, that's ok. My subsequent drafts (for there will be many) will be rewritten so the telling becomes showing. This will add words. And make everything better. There are some things I can do quite well. I'm ok at dialogue (which is a skill, and I'm very lucky to have it). I've given my characters awesome names. I think I have an interesting story. I have some really bad habits. I change tenses as often as I change my socks and it is a massive struggle to keep a handle on it. I haven't found my main character's voice yet, so that keeps switching too. I'll be honest, that is really annoying me even though I know that I've got to write through it to find it...anyway, I'm ahead on my words for today. I want to hit 10,000 by the end of the day. I also want to make salted caramel brownies, which I'm going to do in a minute. So, writing and brownies. Good day? I hope so.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Day two in the NaNoWriMo house...

Right, I'm going to keep this quite short and sweet because I have other words I need to type, however, I thought it would be nice to check in and keep you up to date with how my NaNo is going. So I started yesterday, which was good on words (3668) and baaaad on quality. But I did set some scenes that will be interesting to revise, and learnt some things about my world, which was good. There was a fair bit of AND THEN THIS HAPPENS and THEN SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENS HERE BUT I'M NOT SURE WHAT EXACTLY which serves the purpose of shifting the story on whilst reminding myself of what I was thinking at the time. Today has been much better. I've written a good fight scene and am now up to 5008 words, which is a tenth of the way through! I'm aiming for 6000 by the end of today. Actually, I'm aiming for 6000 before I get in the shower...I definitely think that this NaNo is aided and abetted by the fact that I'm not really drinking, and that I'm still not back at work full time. Oh, and the fact that I have a plan and I know some bits and pieces about my characters. That is definitely helping. Fingers crossed I'll plough ahead with my word count. I'm aiming for a completed narrative by the end of November, like a giant 50,000 word plan which I can print and draw all over and then re-type from a nice blank page. Because this year, NaNo is all about the re-write. November is a vehicle, and no matter how difficult it seems, I know it is just the start of the hard work. How exciting!

Monday, 15 October 2012

We're going to need a bigger map...

So I'm busy planning my NaNo story. I've bought books. I'm researching. I'm exquisite corpsing like it's going out of fashion. I have a new folder to put it all in (one that matches the theme of my story, oh yes), I'm downloading pictures, I have a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet for crying out loud, with a list of characters and what they look like and their traits and everything. What is going on with me? I never do this! Ah, but yes, Bijou, perhaps this is always why you always write a massive jumble of word spaghetti that cannot be unravelled. Hmmmm... And do you know what I've discovered? Planning is fun. Figuring my shit out on paper and getting my craft on and prit-sticking the bejesus out of loads of grainy photos of stuff that looks like it might relate to my characters or time period into a carefully selected exercise book and making a visual aid and doing something with all the thoughts in my head is very satisfying indeed. It makes everything seem a bit more real. I don't feel like I'm guessing. Sure, I don't have everything figured out. I don't have a clue what my character's favourite colours are, or what they would choose for their last meal or even when their birthdays are, but I know what they look like, and how they'd act in certain situations and a fair bit of the reasons why they'd do that. I don't want to know everything. I figure I need to leave something for the wedding night and I'm worried that too much of a certain type of planning might kill the passion...but a bit of planning? Half a dozen pages of randomly constructed images to help inspire me when I'm stuck, pictures to describe, facts to refer to...that sounds like a plan to me.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Second - a bit about a writing (because that's why we're here, right?)

So I started a new writing course thing last night. I know, I'm forever going on them, I'm like a writing course addict. But this one seems especially good (I'll tell you why in a little minute). It's run by a lovely lady called Lisa who has a company called the Poetry Fold (check out her website here Anyway, one of the reasons why I really like her is because I was due to go on this course in April, and I couldn't attend the first session because I felt horrid and then by the time the second one rolled round I was in hospital. These courses always have some sort of no cancellation policy, especially last minute ones, so I was expecting to lose my money. But no! Lisa offered to keep a place on the next course for me, which was so lovely and at a time when it felt like everything was going wrong and I was feeling very sorry for myself it was just such a kind and unexpected gesture that it made me a little bit tearful. So that's reason one. Reason two is it's my day off today, and I've been up since 6.30 am (that's in the morning, folks, the morning) playing one of the games she taught us. I'll run through it with you, you might have heard of it. The name of the game is Exquisite Corpse and it's so easy and fun and useful that I can't believe I've never played it before. Anyhoo, you need a bit of paper with two columns. One on the left = adjectives, right = nouns. Write a massive list of nouns (about 20 is probably a good number but it's entirely up to you) then if you're playing with someone else fold the paper so they can't see the nouns and get them to write the adjectives. If you're playing with yourself as I am this morning, put the list of nouns away until you've forgotten about them (which will probably be about half an hour in my case) and then jump on the adjective wagon. I've chosen to make a table in word and type out my nouns so in a bit I'm going to print it and put it in a safe place and do the adjectives later, or give it to the husband to do my adjectives for me which might also be quite fun. We played this last night and some of them were hilarious, some interesting, some thought-provoking. My favourites were... * thin flatterer * fat moon * velvet path Anyway, it's fun and easy and you know it was a good game when I'm up before seven on my day off playing it. Oh yeah! I always think it's really interesting how random writing exercises can link to things I'm already writing/planning and thin flatterer is a fab description of one of my more tricky characters for my NaNo project, so I'm very pleased about that! If you want to play this game with me (and I recommend it if you're writing, totally) then let me know and we'll figure out the logistics of it...right, that's it from me. I'm off to make a cheese toastie for breakfast, because I'm underweight and that's how I roll...boom!

First - some housekeeping

Right, this blogspot thing changed whilst I was on the sick and there are a couple of things I really want to be able to do but I can't. 1) How the devil do I get line breaks in??? Whenever I leave any white space between my lines (and I do, although I totally understand if you don't believe it) it dis-a-bloody-pears. Why? How? What do I do to fix it? 2) Aaaaaages ago I'd set up a lovely little feature so whenever someone left a comment, it sent a little message to my blackberry and I was able to see it straight away and comment back and it was all very nice and sociable. Now I've joined the iphone generation I no longer have the blackberry email address it was linked to and I can't for the life of me remember how I set the email alert thing up or figure out how to change it 3) Are you on the tweeter? Do you follow me? You probably should, I'll tweet you back and everything. I am @bijouractonteur. There is also a strong possibility that you could become my 100th follower and wouldn't that be nice for you?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

When is reading not like reading?

When you're planning on writing something and get your editorial head on and mentally criticise it line by line. Or is that just me? When I was at Uni, I had to stop reading for fun for the whole of my final year because every single thing I read I was just thinking about it critically, how they did this, how they achieved that effect, what I would have done differently or what I would love to do myself. Hmmm. I don't want to sit backstage at the theatre, thank you very much I'd prefer to be front-row. So I'm planning my YA book and have started to read in genre. I'm steering clear of Twilight because I've blacklisted it in my head. There is no real reason for this, I've just decided I don't want to read it. I'm sure it's brilliant and I'd love it if I did but the line has got to be drawn somewhere. I can't read everything. I'm already a big fan of Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and the Hunger Games (well, the first two. I wanted to give Katniss a massive shake in the last one). I've started to read more and found that my inner editor went absolutely crackers. I can't name the book I'm talking about because I don't want to be some massive cow who slags off other writers, when writing a book is an amazing achievement and something I can only dream of. I read an article (on Perez Hilton, of all places) basically saying how this book was being made into a movie and was the "next big thing" and the best/most dangerous thing about having a kindle is that you can think of a book and about a minute later you can totally own it. Anyway, I totally own this book. And at first, I loved it. And I still really like the story. It's the way it was executed that threw me, some of the things didn't make sense to me, some things just confused me and there were quite a few points that made me think, ooh, I'll steer clear of that. So what did I learn? * how can a girl who is so plain be so attractive to everyone and have boys fighting over her? - my heroine will be a stunner * too many characters are confusing, especially when they are all around the same age - I'm going to have three core characters and well defined secondary characters who cannot be mixed up * repetition is annoying - get creative I think those are the three key things I'm going to bear in mind when I finally get typing. Which I'm saving for NaNo. In the meantime, I'm off to make up a book of inspiration. See ya!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The revolution will be written down

Eeek! How exciting! I am starting a new writing group. A writing group for serious writers, who want actual feedback and critiques and to know how to make their writing better. We are going to have subs and use the money to pay the expenses of proper writers to come and talk to us. We are going to have a name, and an email address and structure. And we are going to meet regularly! We will require commitment from people! We will, in short, be the polar opposite of any of the other writing groups that I belong to! I've already had a meeting with my fellow organiser and we want the same things, it is tres tres exciting. Right, must dash - the writing revolution will not organise itself...