Writing: Choosing the Right Project.

book-690763_1280After completing the first draft of my novella, I suddenly found myself stuck. I had plenty of ideas going through my head on what to write – ideas for new short stories, ideas for new novels, new ideas for existing drafts (taking some time away from the keyboard to clear the head is always beneficial). Trouble was I couldn’t come to a decision on what project to begin with.

Being faced with new ideas for writing projects makes me feel like a kid in a lolly shop being spoiled for choice. All those voices in your head clambering to be heard, shouting ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ It’s not always the loudest that gets heard; sometimes there are those that are quieter, but have been there waiting patiently, even for many years, for you to acknowledge them. It’s so easy to be lured by the new shiny idea (Janice Hardy has a helpful post on how to resist them), but new ideas need time to simmer.  Write the new idea down as soon as it comes to you, then let everything else, such as characters and plot come to you gradually. It is usually about this time when you may spend valuable minutes just staring out of the window! And yet, like those patient characters I mentioned, there are some stories that ‘speak’ to you more than others. It is said that everyone has a story in them; so if you have a story that needs to be told, that will not let you go no matter how hard you may try – write it.

At a recent writing workshop I attended, a story that has been with me for many years automatically appeared as the main character demanded being heard. Her story has been tucked away in a drawer for some years now, incomplete as she has been a shy, timid character; yet she continued to persist, revealing herself a little bit slowly, but surely. The time to write her story has come.

Perhaps choosing the next writing project should be as simple as playing ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ – just blindly go where your gut instincts tell you.

How do you go about choosing your next writing project? Do you struggle with too many ideas or too few? How do you go about keeping your writing ideas?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Goodbye Penny Dreadful.

PennyDreadfulCastRarely does a television show come along and capture my imagination, but Penny Dreadful has proved to be one of them. Beautifully written and acted, with delightful imagery, the season finale had me both shocked and upset; doubly so when I discovered that Season 3 was the end of the show altogether.

From the very beginning, part of the appeal for me had been the characters drawn from English literature, including Dorian Gray, various characters from Dracula, Frankenstein and in Season 3, the introduction of Dr Jekyll. Other characters, such as Vanessa Ives, Ethan Chandler and Sir Malcolm had their own demons to contend with, making the show an interesting mix. In Season 3, new characters such as Dr Seward and Catriona Hartdegen were introduced and I would have liked to have seen more of them; two strong women whose characters had the potential for further development.

With the various main characters in Season 3 scattered all over the globe, I began to wonder how and when they would all come together for the resulting climax. In the end, however, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and one scene in particular jarred with me. In the final episode, when Sir Malcolm and Dr Frankenstein meet up for the first time in the entire season, Sir Malcom says something along the lines of:- ‘Dr Frankenstein, fancy meeting you here; long time, no see! Vanessa’s in trouble, do you want to help us? Good. Let’s go’.

I felt the highlight of Season 3 was the episode ‘Blade of Grass’. The episode explained a particular time in Vanessa’s past, and it was a brilliant performance by Eva Green. With the two main characters of Vanessa and John Clare (Frankenstein’s creature), as the main performers, it was very emotional. Viewers finally understood the connection between these two; showing their strong bond and eventual love for one another. It was after this episode that I had hoped John Clare would come to Vanessa’s aid. As much as I liked to see Vanessa and Ethan together, her relationship with John Clare was special, which helped make the show’s ending so moving. (And yes, I’ve always had a soft spot for Frankenstein’s creature). It was only natural, that my reaction to the ending went something like this:- ‘What? No! That can’t be right. This isn’t really happening. You’ve got to be kidding me. Arrr!’ *sob*

Penny Dreadful is testament to the high quality of television that has been produced in recent years. Although some questions remained unanswered, there is very little about this show that I can find fault with – it really has been that good, and in case you missed it, I recommend you take a look. As sad as I am to see its final curtain, I can understand why writer/creator John Logan ended the show the way he did (who can forget the ending of Dexter?).

Goodbye Penny Dreadful. It has been a real pleasure knowing you.

Have you been watching Penny Dreadful? What are your thoughts on the end of the show? Did you have a favourite character?

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5 Lessons Learnt in Writing a Novella.

book-419589_1280Last week I finally completed the first draft of my first novella (yay)! I’m still short of my intended word count, but I’ll leave that for later when the ‘real’ writing starts – that is, the dreaded edits and re-writes.😉

Some years ago I made my first attempt at writing a bush poem and during a critique it was recommended that I could convert it into a short story. That idea grew to the extent that I decided to try my hand at writing a novella. So now that I have a rough draft behind me, what exactly did I learn when it comes to writing a novella?

1. Do Some Research Before You Start

In order to help with the plot for your novella, it’s handy to get some research done before you start. Even if you have some idea of facts for your novella, when you stew over your plot you may find you require a bit more information. You don’t want to leave a hole in your plot while you are writing, as this only prevents you from moving forward (note to self). By having some research up your sleeve before you start writing frees you up from having to do a lot of it when you’ve finished.

2. Do Up an Outline

Like short stories, in a novella, you need to concentrate on one plot with a limited cast of characters. I tend to sit on the fence a bit when it comes to being a plotter or a pantster. I usually do up rough outlines for my ‘novel’ ideas, whereas for short stories, there is no planning involved; I have an idea and run with it. In the case of writing a novella, I found that doing a rough outline helps. It allowed me to help focus on the relationship between the two main characters (in this case a husband and wife) and how they came to be in the situation the novella finds them in. Breaking the plot outline down into each scene also helps build tension and conflict.

3. Know How it Will End

As I was converting my bush poem into a novella, I already had my story’s ending. I found this quite helpful in telling the story, because from there I could work backwards by asking myself the ‘why’ questions, resulting in digging deeper into my characters personalities and their relationship with each other as well as helping with the plot. Because I knew the ending, this was one of the first scenes I actually wrote. This helped with the setting, giving me a better picture of what time of year the events took place and setting up the mood for the rest of the novella. Writing the last sentence also gave me an unexpected idea that could possibly be worked into the novella.

4. Don’t Think about Word Count

You need to make sure that both your characters and your plot are strong enough to last anywhere between 20,000 – 40,000 words. I’m used to writing short stories (the longest short story I have written so far is about 2,500 words), so stretching for a longer word limit appeared somewhat daunting. I was reaching a point where I became more focused on the word count than the actual story itself. My husband, being the helpful accountability buddy that he is, mentioned that the story itself should dictate how long it will be. It was at that point in time when I told myself to worry about that later in the re-writing/editing phase.

5. Go Where the Story Takes You

I know this flies in the face of what I mentioned before about doing an outline, but bear with me. There are occasions when stories can go off in a completely different direction than what we had originally planned. Sometimes characters can take a life of their own; you want a particular character to go one way, when they decide they want to go another. Like a determined child, no matter how much you try to rein them in, things don’t always work out the way you want it to. That’s when you need to give up and just go with it – you may find that the character knows better than you do. The same can also be said if a novella takes you along the path to an entirely different genre. Experiment, but above all, have fun!

Have you written a novella and what did you learn from the experience? Are you a plotter or a pantster? Do you worry about word count when you’re writing? Have you found your plot and/or characters take you on a completely different direction than what you had planned?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

Having an Accountability Buddy.

couple-1343944_1280Recently I read a blog post that clearly struck a lot of writers. Being a solitary endeavour, when we start out as writers, we can have a tendency to wonder why we even bother. Does anyone really care what we do? Does anyone really read what we write anyway? We can ask ourselves these questions when we reach our lowest point, which is why it is so important to have someone – at least just one person who is prepared to encourage us to keep on going.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of listening to the naysayers; those full of negativity who try to keep you down from achieving something or doing something which makes you happy. Finding someone, whether they are a partner, friend or relative that believes in you and is prepared to help you any way they can, can be beneficial to writers. Joining a writing group or even a couple of them on-line can help lift you out of the doldrums of your writing cave as mixing with other writers helps you to understand that you are not alone. Even in a group, you may find yourself drawn towards certain people, working up the courage to ask them to be beta readers and/or accountability buddies.

An accountability buddy can help keep you focused on your writing path and help steer you towards meeting your deadlines. They are also helpful in giving you the kick in the pants you need when you begin to slacken off, yet supportive in those times when you feel you’re not good enough. Being with a group of writers as accountability buddies can help energise you towards your goals as you may wish to emulate the success others may be having; proving that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

I’m fortunate that my husband believes in me enough to be my accountability buddy. Yes, he does indeed give me the kick in the pants I deserve, insisting I avoid listening to the negativity of others. I still have a long way to go, but I know that without the support of that one particular person, my goal of becoming a published writer would never have come this far.

Do you have someone who encourages you to keep writing? Do you have a partner, friend or relative as an accountability buddy? Are you part of a supportive writing group?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

The Freedom to Write What You Want.

tea-381235_1280Some years ago, I read a particular piece of writing advice that has always stuck in my mind. That advice was this – ‘Don’t write what you want to write. Write what a publisher wants to publish’. Yes, I understand that in order to get published, one has to keep an eye on the marketplace and what is currently being published, however, such advice can be overwhelming for the new and unpublished writer.

As unpublished writers, one needs to spend time concentrating on perfecting the craft, finding your writer’s voice and even experimenting with genres and different styles of writing. Like any art form, writing is no get rich quick scheme. You need to be writing for the love of it, and if you really enjoy doing it, then you are prepared to work at it. You are willing to place some of your own heart and soul into your writing and it is this very emotion in your stories that readers remember and are prepared to come back to. If you don’t feel passionate about what you’re writing, readers will notice that too.

This is why lately, I have been thinking about this very subject and I’m so glad to have stumbled upon other writers who have been thinking the same way. Author Kyla Bagnall also believes in the value of the writing process and being familiar with your genre, while author Rachel Aaron suggests that if you write the book you love and do it well, it will sell; you will find your audience. I guess there is truth in the saying ‘If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it’.

Being creative is being free to express your artistic side, whether it be writing, art, music or film. We may talk about our fictional characters evolving; so too, should we allow ourselves as writers to evolve. Through experimentation, we may find ourselves going down totally different paths and therefore discovering something about ourselves. As long as you find something you are passionate about when it comes to writing, you will find your audience.

In an age where discoverability is important, do you think about your potential audience/readers when you write or do you prefer to concentrate on the writing process? Have you found a topic or genre that you feel passionate about?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Keeping a Writer’s Journal.

writersjournalIn recent months, I have begun using a writer’s journal. I was never any good at writing in a diary to talk about the mundane, but I’m finding a writer’s journal different. I might slot in the odd piece of what’s happening in my life occasionally as it could prove helpful for future writing projects, however, I find that keeping a writer’s journal is best for the following reasons:-

It helps with the brainstorming process

Your writing journal may include your dreams, story ideas or blog posts. Whenever you come up with a new idea for a story, article, etc., write it down in your writing journal. It also helps in getting your feelings down on paper, preparing you for certain scenes or projects. Keeping all your ideas together in the one place, rather than scattered on pieces of paper everywhere (been there, done that), is also beneficial.

It helps you to concentrate on your goals

Recently, I had to step back and concentrate on my writing goals. Keeping a writer’s journal helped me with that as I was able to see which projects needed to be tackled first – starting small so that I would gradually work my way up to bigger projects. This then allowed me to concentrate upon my genres, possibly experimenting with other genres and my preferred options for publication.

It helps you to write every day

The old ‘rule’ of writing everyday enables us to form good writing habits. Getting into the routine of writing in a journal a few minutes a day helps us to put pen to paper. I write in my journal every morning over my morning cuppa as mornings are the best time for me to write. It usually only take me a few minutes and I’m done, ready to start my work for the day.

It keeps you away from the computer

Writing longhand is a great way to get you away from the keyboard and being distracted from the internet. It is a quick way of writing down your ideas and gives you the opportunity to write anywhere. Writing longhand also gives you the freedom to make mistakes without having to worry about how it looks, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me.😉

Do you keep a writer’s journal? What have you been doing to keep up with your goals this year? Were you any good at keeping a diary?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Back to the 80s: I is for INXS.

INXSThis month for my Back to the 80s challenge, I’m featuring another Aussie band. INXS came to my attention back in the summer of 1980/1, after the release of their single ‘Just Keep Walking’. Listening to this song would forever remind me of Christmas holidays down the south coast and hot summer days upon the beach. The song became their first Australian Top 40 single.

INXS were formed in Sydney in 1977, and were originally named The Farris Brothers. They began to regularly support local pub bands such as Midnight Oil and in 1980, released their first, self-titled album. By 1984, they had released three more albums, which began to see them receive international airplay and success, including Canada and the U.S. ‘Original Sin’ from their album The Swing, became their first No.1 single.

In 1985, they performed for the Oz for Africa concert, as part of Live Aid and later that year released their album Listen Like Thieves. Their album Kick was released in 1987, which made them popular worldwide, reaching No.1 in Australia, No.3 in the U.S and No.9 in the U.K. After the success of this album, they went on to release four more. By now they had reached international success, but sadly, on 22 November, 1997, lead singer Michael Hutchence was found dead in his hotel room in Sydney. A state funeral was given and televised and months later, the State Coroner ruled his death to be that of suicide. Despite this verdict, there is continued speculation over his death.

INXS would continue to perform over the coming years with various lead singers and in 2012, announced they would no longer be touring. Throughout their career, INXS won seven ARIA music awards and in 2001, was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

I was fortunate to see them live in Sydney during their Kick concert at the height of their career. Down near the front of the stage, I couldn’t help but notice that Michael Hutchence definitely had a kind of presence about him (sounds corny, I know, but it’s true). His untimely death was a great loss to the Australian music industry and the world. May he rest in peace.

Other bands formed or who had hits in the 1980s starting with the letter I include:- Icehouse, Ian Durry and the Blockheads, I’m Talking.

Is there a song or particular type of music that reminds you of summer? What other bands of the 1980s that begin with the letter I can you think of?

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