Month: May 2016

3 Lessons the Great Stanislavski Taught Us About Characterisation

StanislavskiCharacterisation is yeast. Without it, your bread novel turns into a pancake yawn fest. But building well rounded characters that are captivating enough to keep readers up till 3am finishing your book can be a bit of an enigma.

If you’ve hung around long enough you’ll know I like to draw inspiration from all branches of the crazy tree.

Today, I’ve pilfered methodology from a thespian.

I know. I know. *Gasps dramatically* “But we’re writers. We’re introverts.”

*ahem, technically I’m not. Something about a mix up at the sperm bank, don’t tell anyone.*

But whether you’re introverted or not is irrelevant. It’s the methodology that’s important, not the acting itself. Although if anyone fancies throwing a little skit at the Bloggers Bash, I’m more than up for whipping out my inner diva…

Constantin Stanislavski was a Russian actor, director and all round smarty pants. He developed a model to train actors to act. Specifically, to improve their characterisation in order to make their portrayal of the written characters more believable.

There’s nothing like a bit of reverse engineering to sharpen your pencil…I think there are three key lessons we can take from Stanislavski to help us improve our written characters.

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The Zen of Earth – The Mystery of Our Origin

Mystery of Our OriginWhen I first heard the word Hiraeth, I knew it held greater significance than just the feeling assigned to its meaning. If you don’t know what it means, its:

“Homesickness for a place to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have lived in a shit load of places, more than 20 houses. But like this word states this homesickness is more than just wanting to plants seeds and sow your roots into one building. I don’t think I am the only one who has never quite found home.

It got me thinking. I have seen and read so many things that make me question whether we are really ‘from’ Earth. What if we’re not? What if that feeling so many people can’t get rid of is because  this isn’t really our home at all? (more…)

7 Lessons I Wish Someone Had Taught Me Before I Started Writing

lessons learntWhen I first started writing, I was worse than a kid in a toy store. I wanted it ALL…NOW. I was desperate to be ‘good’ at writing. I didn’t want to just ‘be’ a writer, I wanted to Stephen King that shit.

I was deluded. Not because of my dream, but because I was unconsciously incompetent!

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Which frankly, at that point, was less than fuck all. So I set about rampaging my way through everything that had even the faintest whiff of ‘writing tips’ attached to it.

The problem was, I got overwhelmed, saturated with conflicting advice and utterly bewildered as to which direction to go in. I didn’t know what to learn or how to learn it.

I realised there was no avoiding the fact it really does just take time to develop your writing muscle. However… along the way, I also picked up some pretty nifty tricks that helped me speed up the process. Tricks I wish I’d known earlier.

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VOTE NOW! Annual Bloggers Bash Awards NOW OPEN

VOTE NOWThis is it. The waiting is finally over.

The Bloggers Bash Awards are now open for voting.

We had a HUGE number of nominations, over 350, so thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate.

Voting Closes June 9th at 12pm. The winners will be announced on June 11th at the Bash. If you can’t make it then a winners post will go live at 5:15pm on June 11th.

Choose carefully, you can only vote ONCE per category. There are 10 awards, (so it’s a long post) make sure you vote in them all.

Good luck to all the nominees.

Disclaimer: The committee has done their best to coordinate the nominations and to ensure, where possible, we gave nominees a choice of which category they wanted to be in. Due to time constraints and limited resources this may not have always been possible. (more…)

Flash in a Flash – #Writespiration 89

flash flash 2Flash in a flash is back.

Get a timer, set it for 120 seconds and when and ONLY when you are ready to do the challenge, scroll to the very end of the post to see the one word prompt. Write hard and fast until your time is up. 

If you want to join in, post your flash in the comments or in a post and link back here. Mine is at the bottom under the word.

Please note I am extremely slow at responding to comments at the moment. I moderate everything. I do read everything, but expect a delay. (more…)

2 Super Easy Methods to Drastically Increase Your Subscriber List

subscriber listIf I had balls I’d be telling you I’m balls deep in marketing research. But I don’t, and frankly I’m a feminist anyway. So instead, I’ll tell you I’m vagina deep in marketing research.

And god it feels good! It’s like I’m on some kind of frenzied writing drug that’s given me wild zombie hair and a crazed look in my eye. I’m rampaging my way through non-fiction books faster than I can sift through Bloggers Bash nominations. I’m devouring articles, publications, magazines and anything else I can lay my chubby mitts on. (book recommendations welcome  – leave them in the comments)

Before the year is out I will have to make the choice as to which path I’m to follow. At the moment I’m 60/40 indie/attempting trad. *shrugs* maybe I’ll try the hybrid thing. Either way, I still need to know everything I can about marketing. Without those skills I can kiss goodbye to anyone other than Mumsy and the Wife buying my book.

I’ve been trying different methods to boost my subscriber list and these two methods, over a two week test period, have produced a 114% increase in NEW subscribers. Yeah really. 114% increase in NEW subscribers compared to the previous two weeks. (more…)

Impossibly Connected – Auras, Energy and Universal Life Forces

AurasI’ve had more than one of those jaw dropping moments. The excuse me while I demonstrate my gormless look and allow my brain to crap itself.

I’m talking about when you meet someone for the first time and are so overwhelmed by the ‘we must have been separated at birth‘ feeling that your soul has an orgasm over this impossible, unearthly connection.

I’m not sure I even have the word to describe?! But I’m better you know what I mean.

It’s not always positive either, have you ever met someone, or seen someone from across a room, and taken an instant dislike to them? A dislike so deep-seated you’d make Professor Umbridge look like child’s play?

           I have. (more…)

The Visual Writer’s Guide to Pacing & Tension

Pace Tension2I always thought being visual and a writer was a massive contradiction. I don’t mean having an imagination. Obviously a writer needs an imagination. I mean, in the way we process information.

See, when I think, or try to work out a problem, like how to prevent the terror tot shoving his finger up his nose in public, I think in pictures and voices. Yes, I hear a voice in my head, but not the kind of voice that whispers violent temptations, although sometimes it might be nice to blame my rage on it… Where was I? Some people think in words or numbers or actions. If you have synesthesia you might even think in colours, senses or feelings.

This has never been a problem for me. It just meant I created mood boards for my story worlds and characters on my pinterest or instagram, rather than filling out character templates and scene plans.

That was until I wanted to check the pacing and tension of my novel.

Once you’re knee-deep wading through the slush of your story, you know as well as I do, you can’t see the commas for the sentences. Let alone step back enough to see the shape of your newly trimmed bush manuscript.

So I set about some research and have figured out my own method, using a Sacha sandwich of pilfered ideas, to help visual writers figure out their uppers from their downers. (more…)

Writespiration #88 It’s a Dolls Life

doll islandAnyone who knows me, knows I am more than a little obsessed by dystopia. I’m like the uber geek fan girl constantly waving her burnt, shredded dystopia flag from the centre of whatever destroyed city I’m reading or writing about that day.

Diana wrote this post, and popped an image in I found a little spooky. Then Allie, told me about Doll Island. The myth goes that a guy found a drowned girl in the river, then her doll drifted up after her. He hung the doll up in respect for her lost soul. Then kept hanging dolls for 50 years after claiming he was haunted by the spirit of her and a bunch of other kids. Mysteriously he was found dead, drowned in exactly the same spot as her… *shudder*

The challenge:

Write a story about Doll Island, maybe its doll island in Mexico, or perhaps another kind of dystopian doll island, maybe they are all robots. Is it scary or a little girls heaven? Whatever you do include an island of dolls in your story. Less than 200 words please.

If you want to join in, leave your story in the comments below, or in a blog post using a ping back so I know you have participated. I am on a bit of a blog hiatus at the moment and because I read every entry it does take me up to a week to respond to your entry, I also moderate all comments so if you don’t see your story right away, it is there, I just haven’t got to it yet. (more…)

Don’t Let Writers’ Self-Doubt Beat You – 4 Steps to Conquer it

self doubtI’m getting increasingly frustrated. The kind of frustrated that leads to drastic, probably stupid, but definitely life changing behaviours.

I’m frustrated because I have shit to do, books to write, stories to tell. Yet two things are standing in my way. Life bullshit and self-doubt.

What do I mean by life bullshit? Oh you know… The crap, the stuff and the things… Shit that incessantly fills my day like, work. Fuck work, I should be writing. Having to pay bills. Tut. Such an inconvenience. Chores, cleaning, cooking. ALWAYS cooking. Then there’s life admin, you know, keeping myself clean enough I don’t get lice, my eyebrows neat enough I don’t poke someone’s eye out with a stray hair, emails, meter readings, food sho….sorry I fell asleep writing the list.

If that bore list isn’t enough to prevent me writing, I have to wage a daily war against the smarmy king of mind fucking himself: self-doubt. I hate it.

So here I am. Standing Sitting in front of you sharing my battle plan to nuke my self-doubt into the next mass extinction. (more…)