Sunday, 31 October 2010

what a character...

The last two pieces of feedback I've received have mentioned my characters. Namely, that they aren't believable, or convincing enough. So I've been doing some thinking about that. I don't want my writing to fall down over something that I should have such control over. And they're probably right, I don't know my characters well enough. So the beautiful notebook has become my character notebook. Last night I started writing about Sparky (my main character). There were lots of things I already knew, but it was still nice to get them down on paper, and there were lots of things I didn't know. Like the fact that he likes cooking and has secret aspirations to be on MasterChef.

Now whether this will make it into the story or not, well, I doubt that. But I don't think it's even something that anyone knows about him (apart from maybe his mam), and that's kind of interesting in itself. So the rest of the day, I'm going to be finding out more about Sparky, and my other main characters. And that character I couldn't name? Well I've taken her out. If I wasn't feeling her enough to name her, she can't be important enough. The role that she was going to play in the opening scene has been filled by a sister. It just feels a lot better.

So I feel quite good about NaNo today. Yesterday I panicked (my friend has all of her main points on cards, so she's going to write 2000 words per card. That's organised. Far more organised than I could ever be. I'm not that person and I'm ok with that). Today, I'm just excited. Let the madness commence...

Saturday, 30 October 2010

panic stations ready?

Oh God. I've lost the ability to write. A Halloween theme for our writing session today and I just couldn't get started.

Was it because I was hungry? Was it because I needed a poo? Or was it because I'm a horrible writer, destined only for failure?

So I went and did the only logical thing a person in my position could do. I tootled off to Paperchase and bought myself this...

Surely only wonderful things can be written in a notebok so beautiful. It can't fail.

Friday, 29 October 2010

technology is a wonderful thing

I have a shiny new phone. It's very beautiful. And very shiny. And it's enabling me to (wait for it) blog from bed. Yes that's right kids. I'm not even up yet. I don't even have my glasses on. I'm lying in the dark, blogging.

Wowsers. This may revolutionise my blogging habits (for a fortnight, at least). I'm officially in love with my phone. Although the sim card doesn't work yet, and the sim in my old phone has stopped working, meh, a small point. I've managed to get on the home wifi and can access YouTube, which is all that matters.

In other news, I'm starting to get a major (MAJOR) pre-NaNo panic on. I've reset my spreadsheet for 50,000. I think that's enough. I think any more would be heart attack inducing and I'd quite like to live to see 31. I think I should have planned more and I need a name for one of my main characters. So far she has been Linda, MJ and Avis and none of them fit. I'm sure it'll come...I hope so.

Anyway, I'm off to lie quietly for another few minutes before I have to get up. God, I love this phone.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

a tidy study is the key to...well...EVERYTHING

I spent all day yesterday tidying the study. Not just tidying. Re-arranging. Totally. I dragged everything out, hell, I even dusted. It's been on my weekend to-do list since, like, May. I'm happy I've got it done. I feel serene now. Look, look at how beautiful it is...

It's a lot bigger than it was before I moved all the crap out of it. And there is a bookcase (and a box of crap) that you can't see. And I had to get creative, my study has the novelty of being en suite, so I've used the space quite cleverly...

I feel now like I'm ready, I've tidied the study, I've re-jigged my spreadsheet, it's set for 75,000 words, which is 2500 words a day, (yes, I know NaNo is only 50,000 but that I did that last year so want to push myself a bit more. So 75,000 is my personal goal, with 50,000 being an incredibly acceptable alternative if I realise halfway through that I'm mental which is probable, apparently I was horrendous during NaNo last year, thanks for sharing baby, I love you too). So anyway, I'm fighting fit, I'm ready and prepared, my study is waiting for it's only natural that I've spent all day avoiding the study. Well, I wouldn't want to mess it up before November 1st, would I?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

success (noun) favourable outcome, good fortune, successful thing or person

I was asked on Wednesday if I define my writing success by publication/winning competitions. The implication being that I shouldn’t. I think I said no (I’d had a pint or two) but in all honesty, this is a bit of a lie.

I define my success solely by competitions wins (nil), shortlists (one) and publication (one).

I do not define it by the number of stories completed, redrafted and sent off, by my first delicate steps back towards poetry, by attending classes and groups, by being invited to guest blog (yes, me! a guest blogger!) I do not define it by winning NaNoWriMo – instead, I cancel that out by the fact that I haven’t been able to redraft.

Perhaps, as a writer, I need to celebrate my success more.
I might have a little party for me, Helen, the writer. I should bake myself a cupcake and have a moment to bask in the glory. Look at everything I do, whilst still working full time and committing myself to important things, like America’s Next Top Model and the Apprentice.

And so what if I haven’t been able to pack the day job in just yet? I’m still an awesome writer. So there

Monday, 11 October 2010

onwards and upwards

These last few weeks have provided a valuable lesson in writing. I've started entering competitions where I can receive feedback. Plus, I've found a writing workshop which is run by an actual writer. So lots of feedback from different places. And I've found that the things they say about one piece of writing, can actually be applied across the board.

I can't believe I've never noticed it before.

Lesson One. Grammar and punctuation (I touched on this during a mad rant a few posts ago). Basically, take care. Don't give anyone a reason to throw my story in the bin.

Lesson Two. Show don't tell. I've spent years thinking I had this one nailed. Oh, how wrong I was. I'm good at showing but telling sneaks in there, and what does it do? Why, it makes you not believe in my characters, makes you not care what happens to them. Pesky telling! It's funny, but I've been working through another re-write (not the one that garnered the show don't tell comment), and this story needed to be longer, it needed something else I just didn't know what it needed, until I went through it with a magnifying glass, and everything that I had told I showed (oh, how I wanted to write shew there, I know it's not a word but it should be). Anyway, do you want to know what wonderful things happened to my story? It grew a thousand words. And it works better too.

Lesson Three. Adverbs. I love them. I don't need them. I must kill them.

It's like I can see my story sharpening before my eyes...