Aphorisms on NaNoWriMo

NaNo turns the spectator into the actor – the reader into the writer – the internal dialogue is expanded for all.

For anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel, implying ‘we all have a novel inside us’, takes away from the real, honed creativity of the true ‘time-served’ novelist.

Self publishing turns us all into writers.

Without control the quality of literary talent will be watered to a degree that we do not know what real writing ‘tastes’ like.

All you have to do is write what you know. But what if you know nothing?

Everyone is a winner. (which means that no one is a winner)

***


Acknowledgement – this post is the soup of the soup. Dr. J. Suglia got here first.

 

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Stop Stalling, Get Writing. NaNoWriMo is here !

NaNoWriMo 2017
Good Morning WriMo’s,

This is my 2nd year at NaNo. Last year I started a sci-fi novel, reached my 50,000 word count and continued it – it is still progressing, has passed 100,000; but that’s for another time. This year I am trying a new approach. Planning!!!!! 

I am late to the party this year, partly because of that and due to other writing commitments: I have a little map of the village in my notebook, all the villagers names, family connections and job roles in the community i.e. dyer, scribe, labourer etc. I have NEVER planned a story before.

I will be ‘trying’ to write a piece of Magical Realism, set in late 17th early 18th century. Suzanna is a 12 year old on the cusp of womanhood. All she wants is to be the May Queen and for James Joseph to fall in love with her. An isolated village, the Church, culture and conformity, and Oak Tree Jesus!

 

And so begins my introduction to this years NaNoWriMo event.

NaNoWriMo?? I hear you cry – what is wrong with you Alex, have you forgotten how to speak or are you making up new words?

National Novel Writing Month – shortened to nanowrimo –  is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. But you don’t have to!

If you’re a writer and need something to motivate you – this might prove to be worth a shout. I joined, last year, on the recommendation of a fellow Wirral Writer. I work alone, I like working alone, I don’t mix well when it comes to creativity, I don’t want to share my ideas and I don’t want to make new friends – if that sounds like you, then NaNo is still fit for purpose. You do not have to do anything you don’t want. But I got a hell of a lot of words written! I found that this works for me, I need a ‘kick-up-the-arse’, not because I don’t write or enjoy it, but because I get lost in the minutiae, or I wander off into the Land of Research – for example, did you know that not everyone in England in the 16th century had a chimney on their house? Chimneys were a luxury, a luxury!! – see what I mean?

Last year I was what is commonly called, a ‘Pantser’ – writing by the seat of your pants, not organised or planned. This year, it’s Planner; let’s see how that goes.

Sure, some people go all the way, they keep in touch, they communicate with new writing friends, they even meet up at venues for real-life ‘write-ins’ as well as virtual ones. It is a perfect writing platform as you use as little or as much of it as you want. You can see other people’s word counts – so you are either incentivized or proud as a peacock throughout.

So, if you are beginning a new story, or even in the middle of one, you can join the community and share as much, or as little, of your experience throughout the month of November – just get that story written!

Before NaNo – daydreaming, and during NaNo – working!

Reason To Love New Horror Anthology

‘Covering four specific horror-related themes: Halloween, ghost stories, nautical terrors, and cosmic horror, The Asterisk Anthology: Volume 1, brings readers eight extraordinary tales from new authors of weird fiction, winners of the Nosetouch Press calls throughout 2017. ‘

Nosetouch Press on Amazon

Asterisk-Antho-Now-Available-web
The Asterisk Anthology: Volume 1

 

Good Morning all!

I’m very pleased to announce that I have had my work published in this new anthology of horror stories. Not one, but two made it through the selection process! Yay!

It all began in October 2016; after reading a ‘call for submissions’ via Dark Markets, I entered my first story for Halloween. Nosetouch Press ran a 4 Round submission process – Halloween, Ghost Stories, Nautical Nightmares and finally Cosmic Horror. I came second in Rounds 1 and 4. It’s always great to see your work in print; validation through publication says that someone thought your work good enough – and few things feel better – for a writer.

There is a broad range of writing styles, tied together by the four themes. I am convinced you will find some you love in it (I have two reasons to love this anthology!)

I’d like to thank the two people involved in compiling this anthology; David T. Neal and Christine M. Scott, who must have spent hours reading through submissions, deliberating between them who had won and making final decisions. I know, from experience, how hard it is to get 10 writers work collected, edited and compiled into a form for publication, so what it must have been like for submissions from across the world, I cannot imagine.

You can buy your copy of The Asterisk Anthology here-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076ZB9KR6

Thanks for reading, have a lovely weekend. A

An Exercise To Develop Character Outlines

I am currently studying ‘An Introduction to Screen-writing‘( University of East Anglia) with FutureLearn – an online digital education platform. For me, being able to continue to learn and develop is as important as eating and bathing. This course is FREE! Many of the courses are free and are well designed, presented and are engaging.

Prior to this week, we have been learning about the Five Fingered Pitch and then extending into Ten fingers, or, Two Hand Pitch. I had an idea for a story which I thought might work well on the screen, so I pitched that. So today, we have been asked to do an exercise in developing character outlines. It is part of the the process of character development. We are to ‘create an outline for a character from a film that you’ve recently seen or use it as an opportunity to develop a character of your own.

I’m choosing to stick with my own story, in the hope that this exercise will help me to develop Reg – who currently doesn’t even have a surname!

  • List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)

    Saves his neighbourhood. Scares the drug dealers half to death. Accepts help. Falls into despondency. Discovers son has drugs. Asks new neighbours to be more respectful.

  • Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?

    Reg wants things to be like they used to be, he wants his family safe, and a quiet life. Reg feels impotent, he initially pleads for peace but is disregarded, in Reg’s eyes, his son has been tainted by the badness of the world. Finally realising that others feel the same, Reg is persuaded to join forces, under the ‘guidance’ of an archetypal mentor. They set about scaring off the dealers and thugs. Reg is aware of what he wants – a peaceful life – but the invading force (new neighbours) paralyse him.

  • Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?

    Reg is a thoughtful considerate father and husband. His wife thinks he’s ‘too vanilla’. He is rare amongst his peers in that he has a college education. He listens to reggae, classical and jazz music. He reads history books and sporting fiction. He learnt to play the piano and violin at school, but parents could never afford instruments of their own. Wanted to be a jazz musician, but ended up working at the local steel yard. He enjoys the simple things in life; a pint with his pals at the weekend, a game of pool, football in the park with 10 and 12 year old kids on Saturday, sex on Sunday. Reg is quite philosophical about where his life is in comparison to original plans.

  • Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?

    A nice guy.

  • List any important physical characteristics

    None. Just your average dad.

This is just an outline, so stick to that format and make lists; avoid long prose descriptions.

So this is my character outline for Reg, aka; Reginald, Reggie, or Barnsey (because he looks like a young John Barnes; footballer).

The working title for the story/script is ‘Regilante’!!

This is something I have never done before in my story writing; plan the character, and this course is helping me look at writing in quite a different way. I have also stepped out of my comfort zone – writing from a male POV and a Black Comedy – I have never written comedy before and do not know if I am even up to the task!

 

Writing Prompts Linked List

Writing Prompts

It’s a list day!

Some people write for pleasure, some people write to inform, some write for money, others for therapy. Whatever your reason, sometimes you might find yourself stuck for an idea. Don’t be; there’s loads of sites out there to get your creative juices flowing.

As a writer however, I would urge everyone to at least try to come up with your own ideas – take pictures, go for a walk, even in your own neighbourhood, take a bus ride and write down what other passengers say (old people are the best!), sit alone in silence for fifteen minutes, keep a dream diary, question yourself.

It’s a list day!

So you tried all that and today your brain went on holiday. Instead of trawling through your search engine, I have dragged together a list of 15 sites you might like to visit. I have included fiction, non-fiction, poetry and Y.A links.

1.Penguin Random House Writers Academy                                                                

Divided into categories – so you can find the genre you prefer. This is a shareable site, so you can add your own prompts if you like.

http://www.thewritersacademy.co.uk/writing-prompts/

2.Daily Writing Prompts

As well as a list of prompts to get your ideas started, they have other suggestions for making your own prompts.

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

3.Edutopia

Primarily aimed at school students, but there is no reason why an adult could not find something of interest here. Can also be used to prompt essay writing as much as fiction. N.B: Star Wars fans might be interested to learn that this was set up by George Lucas as part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF)

https://www.edutopia.org/article/50-writing-prompts-all-grade-levels-todd-finley

4.Tumblr

Snapshots of quotes, opening lines, pictures and more to get the juices flowing. Great idea as some of us are visually stimulated rather than through other people’s words.

http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

5.Pinterest

Similar to tumblr. If you are not familiar with Pinterest it is like a massive series of online message boards. You can find quotes, images and text to get you started.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/writing-prompts/?autologin=true

6.Think Written

Need a prompt for each day of the year? Here you will find 365 writing prompts, simple one-liners without too much input from the creators.

http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

7.Reddit

Ideas submitted by members of the public (you can too!) Some of these ideas are really interesting.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/

8.Writers Digest

Hundreds of ideas to scroll through here, from the light-hearted and fun to more potentially serious issues. Click on one of the idea links and you are provided with some background to start you off.

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

9.Poets & Writers

I found this site a little awkward to use, you have to read through a lot of other stuff until realising, oh, this is the prompt.

https://www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises

10. The Writer magazine

As well as having lots of prompts ready to use, right there on the first page, you can sign up (free) to get weekly prompts in your mailbox!

https://www.writermag.com/writing-prompts/

11. Letterpile

Although small and limited, in comparison to other sites, I quite like the mixture of pictures and single lines as prompts.

https://letterpile.com/writing/200-Creative-Writing-Prompts

12. The New York Times

For narrative and personal writing, the New York Times has collected ideas from students, who had previously been prompted to write something in response to articles in the NYT.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/learning/lesson-plans/650-prompts-for-narrative-and-personal-writing.html?mcubz=3

13. The Poetry Society

Ideas from tutors and poets, not just prompts but how to go about writing a poem on a theme. Contains links to poets and other helpful sites. You can download and print off a PDF of ideas so that you can get off the computer and let your poetic mind wander over paper!

https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/national-poetry-competition/resources/poetry-writing-prompts/

14. Poetry Prompts

Although this is a tumblr blog, and I already have included tumblr, I thought this was beautifully clean and simple in its presentation. Looks like a series of prompt cards with a single sentence or word.

http://poetryprompts.tumblr.com/

15. Bookfox

Non-fiction writers don’t get much inspiration handed to them, so here’s a site for those of you who love writing creatively, but not fiction. He also has extra links at the bottom of the page – to push yourself!

https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/creative-nonfiction-prompts/

 

Happy writing!

Books, Reading & Fairies…

I am one of those individuals who come up with lots of ideas and follow few of them through. I’m a ‘Scanner’, a dilettante, a jack-of-all-trades, but more on that another time.

A couple of ideas I came up with about 12 – 15 years ago were to do with sharing one’s own reading selection. I worked at a well-known book shop at the time and ran a Book Swap. So easy and free – everyone brings a book wrapped in paper, place it in a box, take another out. That’s it, but you often get something you may never have thought of purchasing, you may get exposed to a genre that previously you had avoided. The other idea never came to anything – it was to do with leaving books in public spaces; one’s own publications or some other author you really had enjoyed.

So thank goodness for Goodreads and Book Fairies!

for blog-book-book-fairy
A ‘real’ book fairy!

 

I have been a member of Goodreads for some time now, admittedly I do not share or rate or converse with others as often as I might, but yesterday this information dropped into my mailbox –

Hide a Book Day with Goodreads

When I read it, I thought, well finally someone’s doing it, because I sure as hell am too lazy!!!

The basic gist is this, You leave out one of your own books or share a favourite book from another author. It’s a way of sharing literature, and what can be better than that.
There are a couple of things you need to take part; two stickers for each book, you can get them from The Book Fairies.
Next; you hide the book in a semi-obvious spot for someone to find. But as Goodreads states, watch the weather forecast as you don’t want your book to get soggy.
Then; take a picture and share it with your fellow Goodreads members and Book Fairies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #goodreadsturns10 #hideabookday, #ibelieveinbookfairies.

for blog book fairies
‘Hiding’ a book in a rickshaw in Mumbai

I love this idea (not only because I thought of it , privately, yonks ago!), it incorporates two positive aspects of human behaviour – reading and sharing.
I know I will be keeping a lookout, though I cannot imagine anyone in my town will get involved.
I do have one quibble with the ‘event’. It is happening on a Monday, working people such as myself will possibly not have time to hide or look for books. I would have preferred it to be run on a weekend, but that’s just me.

Which book will you hide for other readers to find on September 18?

Read more at Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1012-goodreads-believes-in-book-fairies-and-you-can-too

You can find the Book Fairies at:

http://ibelieveinbookfairies.com/checkout/order-received/27117/?key=wc_order_59b26576c83d8&utm_nooverride=

See also:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/book-fairies-are-leaving-novels-all-over-mumbai-have-you-found-one-yet/story-OudJCoeu7WtRAZlmag770O.html

for blog pressed faery brian-froud-fairytale-art
Pressed Faerie by Brian Froud

 

Writing is…Hard

Writing is….Hard

Well, writing per se is not hard. However, writing well is!

It is quite easy to put pen to paper, finger tips to keys, or quill to parchment; whatever takes your fancy, I do it all the time. It does not make what I write worthy of reading, or even particularly good.

As an adult who is fairly new to the world of writing, I realise how very little I was taught at school, and probably because teachers work to a curriculum which itself is about passing exams. I am not alone in this lack of education regarding how to write. I was not, for example, taught the difference between an essay and a story, an assignment, a dissertation, or a thesis. I have had to pick these up in the later years of my life – a huge indictment on the English Education system.

Writing is not hard because I am dull-witted; I am not.

Writing is a creative activity, it demands a skill with words that, sadly, many so-called authors do not have. Word-smiths work hard at compiling and re-arranging 26 letters (in English) into a plethora of ideas, and use the same 26 letters over again for completely different themes.

Writing well is demanding.
It requires practise. It requires persistence. It requires commitment. It requires creativity. It requires honesty. Anyone can produce word vomit – it’s recognising the good bits that makes the difference.

Recently, I have been asking myself – who cares? Or, So what?

Who cares if you wrote a tragedy about a lovelorn grass snake? So what if you ‘have a story inside’, do you really have to share it? What make you think anyone wants to read it? I have been guilty of producing some trite nonsense, I need to stop. And so do a lot of people.

Self criticism seems to be sorely lacking in many individuals. I blame the school system; everyone can be creative, everyone is a winner – no they can’t and no they are not. This lack of competition has created a society with a watery attitude to the arts; vapid outpourings of equally vapid individuals.

And this criticism is not only levelled at ‘young up and coming’ authors – there are many brilliant new writers – no, I have read some tosh from long established writers who seem to pump out vast quantities of barely edited text, in the infuriating belief that more is better. It is not.

Many authors have only ever produced one or two novels – would that the others had!!!!

Writing is hard for blog snoopy
Writing is hard for Snoopy…