The ramblings of aspiring author, Madeleine Sara, her dreams to become published and her trials and tribulations along the way. Plus other writerly nuggets of wisdom!
Apologies for my typos, I get very cold hands with Raynauds and sometimes there's a persistent kittie on my lap, nudging my hand as I type.
I've been creative writing all my life, though with various haitus(es) along the way. IFrom 2010 I started this blog and enjoyed sharing writing and other information with everyone. illness and bereavement supplied the more recent hiatus.
"Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating, by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer's make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road he wants to go. I would only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto." Ray Bradbury
How's your zest and gusto? Did it wain for this month-long blogfest challenge? I had a gas! I loved finding suitable themes for each letter of the alphabet that fitted with my blog/writing. I loved gaining new followers and hearing everyone's comments and I followed and commented along with them as much as life and health allowed.
Zero = No more A-Z blog posts this month. Time for a rest for a month perhaps?
And finally if you don't want to experience the trauma ofzero-ingyour entire blog, asTalli Rolandalmost had done to her.BACK IT UP
Hubby and I have just watched 3 televisations of a well known fantasy author's novels, which have sold in their millions and are, therefore, considered really good yarns. However, of the 3 we watched, we concluded that one was absolutely superb, one wasn't bad and the other seemed disappointingly dull.
For me, the best one had action throughout, humour and a good plot, but what made it stand out from the other two, was that it had a more identifiable MC with whom we could relate to and root for from the start. It was called Going Postal. My overall feeling of the other two was of slight confusion, as instead of seeming to following the MC the action kept switching to another set of characters and then another gaggle, making the story seem slightly fragmented. I began to wonder who or what I should be rooting for and I guess because I did not feel strongly enough about the apparent MC's, for one, at least, I just felt bored.
I really loved watching Going Postal. I foundThe Colour of Magic dramatisation rather dull and Hogfather was amusing, but less engaging than the first. Of course the actual novels may be more engaging.
There was conflict in all 3 of the stories; antagonists and protagonists. However, having a strong MC made all the difference to how enjoyable the yarn.
I intend to get the novels from the library and see whether reading them changes my opinion of the way the yarn is presented.
Have you read stories where the MC was so weak or absent that you lost interest?
What a lovely Royal Wedding and the sun decided not to outshine the bride!
In the latest issue 49 of Mslexia is an interview with author, Louise Welsh in which she says:
"After the success of The Cutting Room, it was a case of that difficult second album. I think I forced it a bit. I thought I ought to start writing before waiting for the right idea..."She advocated, carrying ideas around for a while, taking notes and letting the ideas germinate when they are ready.
Now this immediately struck a chord with me, as I feel like I'm trying so hard to write that successful story that I've frazzled my brain.
While I wait for that big idea, maybe I should do my nails? Read a magazine?
Do you panic and force your writing?
Or do you enjoy the whole writing experience?
Oh anyone tell me how many words they plan to write per chapter of their novel?
I tend to aim for 2,000 words per chapter and achieve more or less as befits what is happening.
I'm being patient Waiting for the right idea I hope it's not long.
Scott Cohen as Wolf in The 10th Kingdom was imprisoned in the Snow White Memorial Prison for sheep worrying, he is released by the Evil Queen after he swears allegiance to her. However, when he teams up with Virginia and Tony, he doesn't want Virginia to leave. At the same time, he must keep his deal with the Evil Queen hidden from them and protect their identities from her. He must also do what he can to keep his wolfish nature in check.
Hermione Granger starts out as a bookish school girl in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
and becomes a key protagonist throughout the 7 books.
Something to think about when designing our own MC's
Do you love any unlikely heroes/heroines of novels and films?
I was chatting with well known Sci Fi Author, Alistair Reynolds, about writing and I admitted that I cannot stop tweaking my MS every time I go back to it.
He agreed that this was something I should try very hard to stop doing because it's a good way to make your writing ground to a halt before you've even finished the first draft, so write down everything about the story and only start tweaking when the first draft is written.
Oh and if you have a QUESTION to ask Alistair Reynolds about writing post a comment below and he'll do a blog interview for us.
Are you disciplined about your writing or are you tempted to make it even better every step of the way?
In 300 words or less, write a passage (it can be an excerpt from your WIP, flash fiction, a poem, or any other writing) that shows (rather than tells) the following:
you're scared and hungry
you think someone is following you
and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses
AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.
The neighbour’s television set sent a shimmer of lights across their window pane in the dwindling daylight. My stomach gurgled like a chemistry set, reminding me it was tea time, as I shivered; my breath forming white wisps in the chill, evening air. There was an odd lingering smell, like some banned substance invading my nose. I could hear footsteps pounding the concrete, coming closer. As I slowed my pace, theirs did too. I turned to look behind me. My heart began to pick up a rhythm of its own, bouncing like a fairground dial hit with a mallet. A figure in a hoody was loitering just past the bus stop and his eyes made a saccadic reconnoiter of my body from head to toe. As I quickened my step, his quickened. As I ran, my breath scorched my throat and my nose filled with liquid. I could taste salt in my mouth. I had bitten my cheek. I made it to my front door. A flood of relief surged through me as my dad stood, ushering me inside. I was safe and home in time for tea. (188 words)
Just lately I'm in a quandry because I'm hearing lots of people saying that we shouldn't read How to books or go on writing courses we should just write, submit and write, submit some more until success drops on our doormat.
I have been on courses, attended workshops, read how to books and written and submitted stuff and I find value in all of those things from learning where I'm probably going wrong, to getting ideas for stimulating my writing creativity to gaining valuable feedback from others including professional authors and also invaluable practice.
I have no qualms about referring to how to books, as I don't believe they will make me write like everyone else and I do believe they will make me more aware of the important background stuff of stories.
So stepping out of the quagmire of what we all should be doing, I will say that I would still love to go on a writer's retreat and I would love to re-gain my energy for my writing sometime soon so that I can just write and write.
Have you taken the time to study the opening lines and paragraphs of the novels you have read?
There's an excellent, free pdf article on this very subject at the Mslexia website.
When an agent or editor receives your submission, they will read your pitch letter and then turn straight to the Opening Page of your manuscript. If they like what they read, they’ll read on; if not, your submission will be returned to sender.
Here's some opening lines of books I own:
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway. At 06.27 hours on 1 January 1975, Alfred Archibald Jones was dressed in corduroy and sat in a fume-filled Cavalier Musketeer Estate face down on the steering wheel, hoping the judgment would not be too heavy upon him. He lay forward in a prostrate cross, jaw slack, arms splayed either side like some fallen angel; scrunched up in each fist he held his army service medals (left) and his marriage license (right), for he had decided to take his mistakes with him. A little green light flashed in his eye, signalling a right turn he had resolved never to make. He was resigned to it. He was prepared for it. He had flipped a coin and stood staunchly by its conclusions. It was a decided-upon suicide. In fact it was a New Year’s resolution.
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
A single line of blood trickles down the pale underside of her arm, a red seam on a white sleeve.
At first Alice thinks it’s just a fly and takes no notice. Insects are an occupational hazard at a dig, and for some reason there are more flies higher up in the mountain where she is working than at the main excavation site lower down. Then a drop of blood splashed onto her bare leg, exploding like a firework in the sky on Guy Fawkes night.
This time she does look and sees that the cut on the inside of her elbow has opened again. It’s a deep wound that doesn’t want to heal. She sighs and pushes the plaster and lint dressing tighter against her skin. Then, since there is no-one around to see, se licks the red smear from her wrist.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. "Was I minus numbers?"
"Hmmm?" Ma does a big stretch.
"In Heaven. Was I minus one, minus two, minus three- ?"
Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Shelton
Harris Goddard's life ran out on an otherwise ordinary afternoon in the middle of May, on the very day it seemed thed rest of the planet was pulsating with life. An unexpected warm front had blown toward the coast overnight, pushing out the last remains of the long, wet Connecticut winter and nudging the buds into a frantic, hurried bloom. By 11:00am the thermometer on the side barn read eighty-six damp degrees and Harris, standing on a ladder and scraping the peeling paint off the house, felt as though he might have missed out on the news flash that the world had slipped into the third circle of hell.
One eventually gets going though the style for me is rather un-engaging.
For the next two, the immediate focus is the main character involved in something interesting and idiosyncratic.
For the final excerpt, a dramatic event is described that sets off a chain of events for the MCs.
So, it seems, to be an engaging first paragraph your reader must be immediately led into the meaty details of the narrative.