Friday, 15 January 2016

Things I wished I had said - or written

Do you write because you have to - because you must?  Do you write to make sense of the world?  

Is writing for publication then a very different thing? 

If you, like me, ponder these things - this great article entitled 'Because I do', by Shauna Gilligan is a must-read.

She says......

.....creativity doesn’t care about ego. It just is. We create stories – write fiction – in order to make sense of our world. Because what it really means to be a writer is to live and be vulnerable. To have the capacity for hope and disappointment; to reflect this in your writing. To be that mirror of emotion and action.

Find the full article, entitled Because I do, on HERE

For more great thoughts from Shauna check out her blog HERE

Thursday, 7 January 2016

10 minutes, four words, one story

Daniel was pale and silent in the back of the car.

For some reason this morning, when we pulled up and I handed him his schoolbag, I tried to hug him.  He resisted, but I noticed he was trembling.  He wouldn’t make eye contact.  He sloped off, eyes downcast, dragging his feet through the school gates.

I had been bringing him to the school since the parent teacher meeting.  If his mother tried he would lie on the ground and scream. I was the authority parent, the tougher one. The look of hopelessness in his stricken face didn’t cause me to falter.  When I commanded him to get in the car he would get in.  When he walked through the gates of the school without a wave I would pull off.  I would arrive at work at usual.  I would attend my meetings as usual.  Maeve, or indeed Daniel, were not to know that I’d hardly eaten since I’d taken on this task.  His face came between me and even my morning coffee.  Tea and a little toast in the canteen at lunchtime was all I could face. 

I wondered how we three were going to face the excesses of Christmas.  How would we behave? What would we talk about?



Sunday, 3 January 2016

22 New Year Resolutions




What was the most memorable writing tip you received in 2015?


What is your writing resolution for 2016?

Have you seen these 22 gems compiled by former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats?

1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Follow Emma Coats on Twitter here