Monday, 30 November 2009

Have a cuppa with your characters on their day off...

The following section from "Necropolis" by Anthony Horowitz [Book 4 in The Power of Five series] fed my imagination and sparked inspiration:

(from page 155, hardback edition:)
"...all the books in the library are biographies."
"Of all the people who have ever lived and quite a few who are still to be born. We keep their entire lives here. Their beginnings, their marriages, their good days and their bad days, their deaths - of course. Everything they ever did."
(You also learn that these books contain all the things that haven't happened yet)

The young hero enters this very real library through a dream dimension. The speech quoted is by 'The Librarian' who apparently has no other name and is the only librarian in an endlessly large library.

I love this whole concept. It got me thinking and I've come up with a few questions and ideas to prompt further writing and thoughts.

What would be written about you on a good or bad day?
What about those in between days? The days that come and go without major incident. The ordinary days. The days that appear to fly by in blur or drag miserably.

What about the characters in your present WIP? We don't really give them an average day to live during the course of a novel or story. Why don't you take time out to write about one of their ordinary in-between days? If you feel it necessary to justify this time spent then you could use this average day as a catalyst for something bigger. After all, in life, it is often the small things that can affect huge change. A ripple effect can start from what may seem an inconsequential event.

Whether you choose to create more from the day or not - it may help you get to know your character further if you spend a day with them that is outside of the chaos, action or intensity of the plot.

Make a date with your character to have a cuppa and a catch up. Do you really know them? Are they the person you thought they were?

If you try this, please let me know how you get on.

The Power of Five series of books has its own website at . For further information about Anthony Horowitz and his writing he can be found at and on Twitter at .

Monday, 23 November 2009

Wasps, leaks & rewrites...

The good news this past week is that the rewrites for my YA novel are going well. After completing a first draft and round of edits I had this nagging feeling that the story would work more effectively when told from the perspective of a first person narrative. But I knew this would require a lot of effort. So I decided to work on 3rd person and 1st person versions of the opening chapters with a view to comparing the two.

After completion I was sure that the first person narrative worked best. I gained a second opinion without sharing my own feelings. This reader was very enthusiastic about the first person narrative saying that it brought the story to life. Therefore, I am now busy rewriting my YA novel in first person. The plot, details & story are there already but nevertheless it is a lot of work to change the perspective. Am I mad? Probably. But mad or not I feel sure I've made the correct decision.

What about the wasps? Well I was writing in my writing hut when a dozy irritable wasp appeared from nowhere. I thought it was a loner come to shelter from the rain. But ten wasps later and a screaming phone call to my husband I realised that there were a whole family of the stinging nuisances. I hate killing anything and so at first tried to shoe them out windows and door. This wasn't an effective method. The wasps were grumpy and one dive bombed my head at such force that I began to lose my nerve. I'm ashamed to say I let my husband put the wasps out of their (& my) misery (aka slaughter them). Even though I don't like wasps I still felt all sad.

And the leak? With the wasps gone I thought I was free to continue with my writing. But then I noticed a slow spreading leak across my writing hut ceiling. I could have cried. Hubbie came to the rescue after my emotional plea and re-covered the offending side of the roof. Phew!

So all is well in my writing hut at the moment. The heater is at full blast and slipper socks are a must but it really is my favourite place to write.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Three books worth reading

I recently entered a competition held by Caroline Smailes and was lucky enough to win a signed copy of "Heaven Can Wait" by Cally Taylor.
What it's about....Lucy Brown has a fatal accident the day before she's due to marry Dan, the man of her dreams. Lucy's given the choice to either go to Heaven or stay with Dan as a ghost. She takes the second option which is dependent on her fulfilling the task of finding a soul mate for a dorky stranger. Whilst she's busy trying to complete this challenge her friend Anna is making moves on Dan.

Lucy Brown is a wonderfully honest amusing character and the after life is imaginatively portrayed. Cally Taylor's witty writing makes this a very enjoyable tale. A heartfelt laugh-out-loud delight. To learn more about Cally Taylor visit her website.
Next I recommend two books by Cecelia Ahern whose intelligent enjoyable storytelling remains commercially successful and accessible to a wide readership. Am I envious? Just a tad!

'The Gift' is a Christmas fable about the underestimated value of time and how we choose to spend its limited currency. The story is character and relationship focused with a touch of mild fantasy.

A touching and thought provoking novel that stays with you long after you've finished reading it.

'The Book of Tomorrow': After her father's suicide Tamara Goodwin and her withdrawn mother leave their wealthy Dublin lifestyle to live with family in the country. When a mobile library visits their remote new home, Tamara finds a magical book that helps her discover herself and the dark hidden secrets that lurk within her family.

A wonderful idea realised within a tight plot that enables you to join Tamara on her suspense filled journey of discovery.

Oh and the hard back edition is beautifully designed and so lovely to adorn your bookshelf.

If you'd like to learn more about the talented Cecelia Ahern and her books then visit her website.
Time for me to go and work on my own writing. The rewrites are not progressing as fast as I'd hoped. I have a million genuine excuses for this lack of productivity but to be honest they are all pointless in voicing because in the end if I want to write I just need to get on with it. Less moaning, agonising and self-criticism. More scribbling, key tapping and grafting. (That told me!)


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Distraction or Inspiration?

This past week I've found it hard to concentrate on my writing. This is a busy time of year for us starting with my son's sixth Birthday yesterday and continuing at a chaotic pace until after Christmas. Apart from this specific time, life in general holds many distractions for a writer trying to desperately carve out their writing time. I began to consider: which distractions could be viewed not as time away from writing but instead as inspiration for writing?

Distractions come in many guises. Certain activities that distract from your writing time are easy enough to turn into inspiring moments spent. For instance time spent with family at the beach or doing a craft activity with children can help us create realistic character relationships, write about emotions and describe the waves crashing against rocks.

However, many distractions in our life are not so easy. There's the tedious responsibilities such as cleaning the bathroom, paying bills and doing your tax return. Then there's the irritating time drains. For instance: having to ring customer services for the tenth time to inform the obnoxious unable-to-think-outside-the-box customer representative that they have yet again miscalculated your bill.

I ask myself: can any distraction become inspiration?

Can the metamorphosis of distraction into inspiration enable our every moment to become an interesting, productive writing moment?

I think the answer is yes. Being a writer isn't just about sitting down with your manuscript editing and writing. It's about making the choice to commit to your identity as a writer so that during every moment you're willing to actively be a writer.

Maybe with this commitment, even the most irritating or mundane parts of life will become meaningful, useful and/or enjoyable.

On that note I'll get back to you after I've scrubbed the toilet and let you know if I managed to find any sliver of inspiration from that!

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