ambition

Writespiration #21

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Like the last writespiration, I thought the post would work just as well thinking about your antagonist.

What would happen if you actually met your main characters nemesis? Would you get on? Would you love them, or hate them? Would you sit in a bar and catch up like old friends? Are you so similar you would argue? Or would you be so intrigued to meet them you would have to drill them with 20 questions?

Take half an hour and write about what would happen if you met your antagonist, it might just help you get to know your character better!

Writespiration #20

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Whatever your writing now, whether it is a short story, novel, play or anything else, what would happen if you actually met your main character? Would you get on? Would you love them, or hate them? Would you sit in a bar and catch up like old friends? Are you so similar you would argue? Or would you be so intrigued to meet them you would have to drill them with 20 questions?

Take half an hour and write about what would happen if you met your protagonist, it might just help you get to know your character better.

The Crafting Characters Series #1

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The Crafting Characters Series #1

This brings the start of another series to this blog. All about crafting characters. Creating believable fully rounded characters with the depth necessary to make your readers keep turning those pages is really difficult. I am still learning how to do it. It’s one of the things, as I start to edit the first half of my WIP that I am going to focus on. I thought I would share some of the things I learn, the tips I find and any advice I’m given as I craft my characters. I thought it would be helpful to share the struggles, successes and lessons I learn along the way.

The first thing I wanted to share was some books that I find absolutely invaluable.

emotion thesarus

The Emotion Thesaurus  by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The blurb says: One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

This book is like my own personal bible. It’s one of my key books in my reference collection for writing. If I am getting my laptop out to write, then that book comes out with it. It’s scruffy, battered, covered in coffee stains and has food crumbled in between the pages, but it really is one of the best books I own for writing. It takes an emotion – say ‘confidence’ and it gives you a definition, an entire page of physical signs of confidence – what a person who was confident would do with their body, how they express confidence and the reactions they have, they describe the internal sensations and mental responses. What long term confidence can lead to and what suppressed confidence might look like. And they do this for every emotion – of which there are a LOT in the book. I recommend this book whole heartedly when at the beginning of creating and crafting any new character.

I hope this has helped, let me know what you thought, and what you might like to see in this series.

Writespiration #17

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You can do this with a dictionary, but one of my favourite websites when I am really stuck in a writers block rut, is One Word where it does it for you. Every day or every couple of days – I forget now, it generates a new word at random. It has a time limit of 60 seconds. It’s a sprint to get as many words down as you can, and then if you choose to, you can click submit after the 60 second timer finishes. You can see other people’s submissions, which I like to do. But I chose this as a writespiration because it has genuinely inspired me before, and got me out of a hole too.

I thought I would share some of the one word challenges I have done – I do cheat sometimes, when I get in the flow I tend to just keep going rather than sticking to the 60 second limit, but anyway – you can see how it works from my examples:

Grateful

 I would never be grateful. She was meant to love me, and she let them cut my arm off. My arm. My only source of income, how can I ever be an artist without my tools, my hands are my life.

“David, you were going to die,” She pleaded.

“Fuck you Marie,” I spat. I glared at her with a hate so penetrating I thought it would consume me.

“So I should have let you die then?” She said throwing her arms up in the air.

“I wish I were dead. I am nothing now. Nothing,” I couldn’t even look at her. Every time I tried to look into those sea green eyes I used to love I felt sick. My stomach ached to be whole again. She had taken everything from me. I am not whole. I am not a man anymore. I am nothing.

I sank into hospital bed pleading it to take me to whatever was next. I wanted it to swallow my body and let me die in peace.

Ash

 I stood in front of the charred remains of my home and let my arm drift through the air as flakes of silvery ash kissed my skin. I was numb. Everything I owned was gone. Forever. I had no history, no memories, nothing.

Crept

 The guilt crept across my skin like waves creeping across a darkened shore. It was suffocating. Every pore was being strangled, oxygen exiled from my throat. I dropped to my knees and clawed at the dirt. Pushing my face hard into grass I inhaled dirt and leaves desperately hoping to choke the pain away. My last shred of energy drained out of me in a pathetic swipe to the grass. I just laid there silent and still till the cold ground had penetrated through to my bones. My soul was shattered and empty. He was gone. And it was my fault.

Moon

As the sixth moon hurtled round the third moon of Uriah, we knew this was the end. The apocalypse had been predicted and speculated about for months but this really was it. It grew so fast that the whole planet knew there was only a matter of minutes before it smashed into the Earth and obliterated mankind.

And instead of Mrs Black frantically making love to me or spending our time confessing our love or even our regrets, she picked up the Hoover an started cleaning.

“Listen Sach, if we’re all going to die, the house at least needs to be tidy for when we come back.”

 “Babe I don’t think it matt…”

Hollow

I watched as every word I said rippled through the air and hit her. One by one, her eyes became more hollow and vacant with each word. I didn’t think she would ever recover.

Ocean

 It was the only way in. Through the sewer system attached to the ocean. I fucking hated deep water; it was the thought of all the fish and sea bugs touching my feet and legs without me seeing what they were. I shuddered. No matter how much I didn’t want to get off the boat and into the blackened water, I wasn’t going to let the bitch beat me, and that meant taking a deep-sea swim in the middle of the night.

“Suck it up Toni,” I said, and put the clunky breathing piece into my mouth and slipped into the Icey cold waves.

Hope this helps, if it did, let me know 🙂

 

The Reading Like a Writer Series #1 – Reading Non Fiction

Reading like a writer series

I don’t need to tell you that if you are a writer, you need to be able to read, and read well.

You need to be able to read for the love of it, to glean inspiration from it, to pick out strengths and weaknesses from it, and to critique it in order to learn from it. The other lesson I have learnt is that you need to be able to read both widely across varied genres as well as reading deeply into the genre you write.

This is the start of a set of new series for my blog, this one in particular is on reading like a writer.

This first post is on:

Reading Non Fiction 

I don’t even pretend to be a non fiction reader. Can’t stand it. Much to my father’s – who is a purely non fiction reader- disgust, I am a out and out fiction reader. I have no shame in losing myself in a story, delving into the characters, and disappearing into new worlds. I struggle to read non fiction because quite honestly I find it boring, I hate the lack of story and complete absence of characters.

However, in the last month or so I have come to realise that this way of thinking is a smidgen naive. Here’s why:

I recently developed an interest in space, physics and the concept of ‘alternative history’ more specifically the ancient astronaut theory. Just an interest mind – I haven’t suddenly converted to anything odd!

Anyway, the only way I could find out more was to research online, which I did, but everything I was finding out seemed to lack depth. There were articles, and opinions, and some interesting pictures. But I couldn’t quite get the detailed knowledge I wanted. Cue the search for Non Fiction books. The first two non fictions books I have found and started reading are:

A Brief History of Time‘ by Stephen Hawking

&

Aliens in Ancient Egypt‘ by Xaviant Haze

Both fascinating and giving me the depth I was seeking. But more importantly I already I have a million ideas for new stories. One of my pledges for this year is to read more, but in particular Non Fiction. I won’t be reading just non fiction because its too heavy and I would fail miserably. I want to read a minimum of 12 books this year, a far cry from the 2 or 3 I could sink a week before baby black was born, but still. If I do at least 12 this year I would be ecstatic.

What have I learnt about starting to read non fiction?

1. Non fiction (can – depending on what you read) provide interesting facts, ideas, new thoughts, new lessons, new concepts, new everything.

2. It can open your mind to completely new… everything. It will lead anyone with half a cell of imagination into world upon world of new ideas, places and characters.

3. You learn from it, and in topics your interested in

4. You build knowledge = building skills = more ideas = better writer

5. You can find new hobbies or interests and even better, build knowledge of those areas

Does anyone out there read non fiction? If so, what types of books/topics? How do you find reading non fiction versus fiction? If you don’t read it, then I hope you try a non fiction book this year, trust me when I tell you slogging through is absolutely worth it, if nothing else, to improve your writing.

 

Writespiration #16

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I am going to look at creating different series for this year so that these posts are themed and have some consistency, but whilst I do that, I shall continue on with the writespiration photo posts.

Writespiration #16 – Grab a dictionary – open a page, pick a word…. write…..

2015’s First Muse

So I pulled my head out of my own arse and after a few slaps to the face, self scalding and deprecation I well and truly got over myself!

When I say I got over myself, I mean I found a muse that inspired me enough to pull my head out my backside and see the light. A muse that made me realise: the piling emails lain untouched in my inbox, the 4000 word assignment still unwritten, the untouched 52K of my baby and my now week long hiatus of my blog, was, in sum, unacceptable.

I appeared to have momentarily tipped into an abyss of self loathing and depression. I do that sometimes… Actually quite regularly. But then I think a lot of writers fight depression or if not then a creative slump or whatever.

This particular slump is connected to a lot of other things I shall try not to elaborate on too much. My dear friend who is a hypnotherapist has agreed to treat me. I am extremely hopeful that she can help me work through whatever crap is going on in my head thats causing my absolute lack of self worth. Anyway…

This muse in particular happens to be a song. I stumbled upon it quite by mistake. I was given a voucher for iTunes for christmas and happened to be browsing the iTunes store and came across this beauty which has been on repeat ever since! Now I must caveat this song with a little explanation of me and music.

I don’t hear lyrics. Like, at all. I constantly sing the wrong words, its a rare occasion I can tell you what a song is actually about. I only hear how the music makes me feel. I hear melody, and tune, and rhythm and beat, but never do I hear lyrics. So I don’t have a scoobies what this song is about either! But I sure do like the way it makes me feel. For the first time this year I felt motivated.

The song is ‘Warrior’ by Imagine Dragons

Has anyone else found a new muse this year? What is it?

 

I’ve Lost My Mojo Baby, Yeaaah

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I really hate January 1st. It’s the ultimate come down. You partied hard the night before, fuelled by booze, contagious enthusiasm and ever more ridiculous resolution promises. The night seemed alive, 2015 was going to be THE year. It’s your year, your time and your chance.

What a load of shit.

Woke up this morning, feeling more bloated and fatter than ever, with a raging hangover and more resolution promises I will break before the end of month. Stepped on the scales, didn’t I?

WHY, did I do that?

Now ELEVEN pounds heavier than I was in August.

Fuck January. Fuck my life.

January 1st – berroca in the morning 11am hangover starting to disappear, better make an effort – healthy yogurt and bagel for breakfast. By 1:45pm I’d eaten chocolate, hated myself for eating it so ate more to console myself.

F***ing January. I’ll start tomorrow!

Looked at the insanity DVD pile with enough hatred to send me straight back to the chocolate drawer for another round of “stuff my face and hate myself some more” I’ll start insanity tomorrow.

Looked at my beautiful treasured Mac laptop lain unused for the entire Christmas break. Not a word written, not a thought for my assignment nor my much in need of an edit WIP. Looked at it, hated on it. Then hated on myself for slacking. I’ll start tomorrow.

Looked at the calendar, only 3 more days off till I go back to work. And the awful realisation I’ve wasted my entire precious Christmas holiday doing sweet fuck all. Something I can’t abide – waste. Spent most of the first week off being ill with a stupid cold I couldn’t rid myself of for a month. Happy to say the last two days have seen it finally bite the dust. But still. I hated on myself some more for behaving like the thing I hate – a waster – sleep is for the weak!

So where did it go? When did I lose my mojo? It’s been gone at least a month. I have no motivation AT ALL. Not to exercise and lose the weight I need to, and not to pick up my technological pen and write.

How do you get motivated when you and your mojo are lost?

Maybe you should tell me tomorrow?!

New Years Resolutions

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I have tried on a number of occasions to set lots of objectives for the new year, and generally speaking failed, or taken two years to complete them!

However, I am going to set some resolutions anyway.

1. Read a book a month (trying to read more non-fiction)

2. Give £5 to charity every month. I actually started this in November, donating to Movember, and then to NaNoWriMo in December.

3. Finish a first draft of my novel

4. Spend more quality time with the wife and kid.

5. Get to my goal size… (this is the hardest, chocolate addiction is a hard one to break)

What are your New Years resolutions?

To Edit or Not to Edit? That is the Question

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HELP…

I have a wonderfully rare gift tomorrow. A day off from work, almost entirely child free that I intend to dedicate to writing. Whilst I am acutely aware I now have an overdue assignment, tomorrow is dedicated to my novel. But I have a problem.

I have 50 something thousand words written – that need a heavy edit, I have some major character development needed too, and probably before I carry on. I have also lost a bit of confidence due to the mis-timed feedback and I’m not sure how to get it back. But it has knocked me significantly off track, and now I feel like I need to go back and edit major storylines, sub-stories and character lines.

But here is my question, Should I go back and spend the time I have between life admin editing the 50K? Or do I spend a couple of hours on character development and then soldier on with the story and edit at the end?

Now – before you all charge in and tell me to plough on (because thats what everyone has said without exception)

There are a few caveats –

I need to either raise my confidence with what words I already have down on the page or I am not going to be able to continue, OR someone needs to provide me with an extremely rational logical argument as to why I should continue.

Listen to me. I already know the answer, I am inviting you to tell me to continue, but I am stuck. Stuck wanting to edit, to critique and perfect what I have before carrying on… the urge to edit is overwhelming.

Also now I haven’t looked at my novel since the 26th Nov when I completed NaNo, the usual ‘carry on to keep the flow going’ doesn’t really apply, as I am a bit out of the flow now anyway.

So what do I do???

Answers on a blogpostcard!