Category Archives: Writing

Writing Blog Hop

This blog post is the result of not being able to talk my way out of doing something. Seriously. You might think you have the perfect excuse to dodge doing the work, but some folk just won’t be deterred. That’d be Frankie Whelan in this case (his blog hop post here). You can find out about his books here.

So without any further delays, let’s crack on with the questions.

1. What am I working on?

I’m currently working on three separate stories that I hope to eventually make into comics. The story that has my primary focus currently is a short story about a moutain climber. It’s still in the very early stages so there isn’t much to it yet aside from the lead character and a couple of scenes in the story.

The second is a story about a young man that has a reality that exists in parallel to ours revealed to him. The creatures that populate that world are quite different from anything he has ever seen before. The story will follow him as he attempts to survive this new reality.

The third is about an outcast mage living among regular people. He has to take action when a war between various magical factions begin to threaten those he cares about.

2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I would like to think that there are unique characters not seen before in other writings. And a different twist on familiar stories. It’s still early days with the writing so I’ve yet to see if the writing measures up to my aspirations.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I enjoy the magic of creating characters and seeing what happens to them in the world they inhabit. There really is nothing quite like writing a story, it’s one of the few truly free things a person can do. Something that didn’t exist is slowly built up by pen or keyboard.

Writing is something that I’ve always done. I can remember writing my own comics and short stories from a very young age. My dad would bring home a box of paper from work so I was never short of something to write on. It was just such a natural past-time for me growing up. It was probably all the gods, monsters and super-heroes that appealed to me then, and still does.

4. How does my writing process work?

Almost without fail, it begins with a character. They appear in my head and slowly reveal parts of their personality and their mannerisms. Then it’s a matter of getting them to explain what it is they want to do.

Once I have a feel for the story, I try and get the major plot points noted down to get a sense of the overall story. The next course of action is to put together the first draft of the story. This will allow me to see where the plot holes are or what isn’t working in the story.

This isn’t going so well with the current stories as the dreaded writers block has put the brakes on any progress. Usually when this happens I’ll move over to another story I’m working on. But this time all the stories are currently at an impasse. Even going back to an earlier point in the story hasn’t helped. So the stories have been put away in the hope that a spark of inspiration will happen while reading a book or watching a movie.

And so here I am doing the blog hop in the hope that putting a blog post together will get the old writing/creative gears turning once again. All finger-crossing and rabbit-foot rubbing will appreciated. 😉

Marching Onwards

Greetings once again. This entry is somewhat later than I had hoped but we shall attempt to soldier on regardless.

The last month has been spent doing a lot of reading about writing, with particular emphasis on writing a novel. It’s something I’m really interested in ever since I took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time. It was a really enjoyable November. The project demanded that time was spent on adding to the novel each day for the month.

As a result, I set myself a daily goal of five hundred words a day. I wasn’t attempting to write another novel, rather I was just giving myself the task of doing some writing every day. The hope was to keep the writing muscles limber for when I start the next writing project.

I don’t have any specific project as yet but I do have a couple of ideas rattling around my skull. Maybe with a bit more time one of the ideas will leap to the fore. There’s no rush as yet as I’m committed to a computer programming course until the end of June. But once I have the free time between courses I hope to get to writing something a bit more substantial.

The last piece that I started work on had way too many similarities to the early books in the Wheel of Time series. There were some good ideas for a story but I have to shave away anything that seems to me to be close to something from the Wheel of Time books.

There are plenty of things to get my teeth into in the weeks before the course ends. The plan is to build up some notes on the ideas so I can hit the ground running when July eventually comes around.

The February update

The blog is still going, although it’s not a frequent as I’d like. But I’ll use the “quality over quantity” excuse for now.

The year has started well regarding my goals for trying to achieve tasks that will help me improve with the writing. I have managed to dramatically cut down on my TV watching and use the free time to devour as many books as I can.

The books have been a mixture of philosophy, fiction and writing help-books. The writing books were particularly interesting when applied to whatever fiction I was also reading at the time. I still enjoyed the fiction but I could now appreciate the work that had gone into book also. I can see the development of the characters, the foreshadowing etc. And I’m sure that appreciation will only grow as I get more books into me.

In addition to the increased reading, I’ve assigned myself a weekly task to write a piece with a minimum of 1,000 words. That has been more of a challenge compared to the reading, probably as it requires me to produce the piece. The pieces I’ve produced so far have been somewhat lacking in beauty.

The pieces are generally a self contained scene. Some of the pieces have interesting ideas under the surface but the language and structure of the piece wouldn’t entice a reader to stick with it. I’d be hard pressed to do so myself to be perfectly honest. But I imagine it’ll be much like my experience with learning to play soccer. I couldn’t do much on the pitch at the start but as time progressed I began to realise where my strengths lay. Here’s hoping that the writing will be much the same. At least then I will have a few things that I know that I can do well. I guess time will tell in that regard.

And so 2013 has begun.

The first month of a new year has just passed the halfway point and I’ve managed to start as I mean to go on. I’m getting plenty of reading done. It’s a mix of fiction and books providing tips/pointers about writing. So I’m managing to get a better understanding of what I do and don’t like in a story as well as reading some pointers for when I actually sit down to write my own stories. It’s definitely feeling like time well spent.

My mind is demanding more and more books be fed to it. It’s nice that the motivation is there to spend some time each day reading. The desire to write is also growing and thanks to the notebook I filled over the course of 2012 I have some ideas for stories that I can possibly attempt during the coming year. There are snippets of three different stories that currently are somewhat appealing to me but I need to go through all the notes before I know what one I’ll tackle first.

Something that really lit the fire to do more writing this year was NaNoWriMo last year. The result of that month of writing was over 100 pages of story, which amounts to the last amount of writing I’ve ever done for a single story. The story itself is very rough and raw but it was the fact that I could write so many pages that really excited me. Some editing/revision could fix the problems that were bugging me but you can’t do that without first committing the story to paper.

Anyway, this year looks like it’ll be a good year for getting some writing done. I can’t wait to see what the next 11 months reveals.

As November draws to a close.

The blog hasn’t been getting as much love as it deserves but it couldn’t be helped as I’m focusing all my free writing time on NaNoWriMo.

The month has gone better than expected but it could have been better also. I have managed to maintain an average wordcount of 1,000 words which is below the 1,667 wordcount that is required. I think part of the problem is that between work and study, the window for inspiration on the NaNoWriMo is quite small. I have about 2-3 hours spread over the course of the day where I just need to be in “writer mode” once the allocated time comes round.

For most of the month it hasn’t been a problem as the story is developing from a blank page. So characters/plot all have to introduced and developed while trying to move the story along at a pace to keep the reader interested. I would say up to around 19k words things flowed pretty well. Once past that marker though, things needed to more focused if I’m to have any hope of tying things up by 50k words.

I have discovered that I’m a “planner” not a “pantser”. I had some basic character and story put down before I started. Then the story fleshed out the details. The problem is that some of the story went off on a tangent and means that my inner editor isn’t happy with the opening of the story. That’s not to say I’m unhappy with the story, it’s just that I wouldn’t have used the opener that I used knowing what the story now is.

Another problem is that because I didn’t plan the story out in better detail, there are large sections of the story that are a rambling mess. They need to be pared down otherwise the story would cruel and unusual punishment to inflict on any potential reader.

Even though the wordcount has slowed right down, the month has been a great eye-opener. I now know I do have the discipline to sit down each day and get part of a large story done. I’m also no longer put off by the blank page. It’s now a page waiting to be filled, even if takes a couple of weeks to get it completed.

I don’t know if the NaNoWriMo story will get completed any time soon as it needs a lot rewriting and plot fixing. But I do know that I’m going to be doing a lot more writing as a result of taking part in NaNoWriMo. And that’s a big positive to take away from the experience.

NaNoWriMo so far.

My first attempt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has officially started. I have to say that right now the novelity of it has me quite excited about what might be achieved over the month.

The wordcount is already behind what it is supposed to be, but it has given me time to mull over some possible ideas for the story as a side-effect.

I’ve informed my immediate family and some of my friends as to what the general idea of the novel is. I’m really pleased by the positive reaction to the idea. Up to now, it was just something that I thought might be an interesting/possibly funny story. But I’ve gotten some questions about the story that suggest it might have more legs than I initially suspected.

Some of the feedback has given me some ideas to get past parts of the plot that weren’t working for me. There are some parts of the story that still need a bit of work but it’s get closer to where it needs to be.

At this stage in NaNoWriMo, I would recommend anyone who has never tried it to give it a go. It really gives you focus and motivation to do some writing every day.

Counting down to November.

The prospect of doing NaNoWriMo has me is a quite optimistic mood since my last blog. I had at the time of the last blog two possible ideas for potential novels to do for NaNoWriMo.

Then out of the back of my imagination a character shoved his way to the front of my mind and declared he was the lead in the book I was to write. The other two possible books were somewhat muted by his appearance. His energy and constant nagging has removed the chance of any other book been written in November. He’s definitely the first character in quite some time that feels like a three-dimensional character. Some of the images and scenes that involve him made me laugh quite a bit. I really hope to capture the spirit of the character once I get started on the project.

The general idea for the story isn’t too well defined right now, and there aren’t any other characters appearing to keep the lead company. Some of the leads interests have put some possible directions for the book to go. But that could all change once the other characters throw their oars in. The book looks like it will have children as the lead characters, but I don’t think it’s going to be a book solely aimed at children.

I’m really itching to get going with NaNoWriMo. Until November arrives I’ll just use the time training myself into a daily routine of getting a nice amount of writing done. I can also do some research on the bits of the story that have already popped into my head.

This could all go horribly wrong.

I’ve been convinced to try something that I’ve not done before. I’m going to be taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s an event that takes place every November.

The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of November. This could be a great idea or a marvellous disaster as it’s more than I’ve ever managed to write in a single month. But having such a clearly defined goal should give me focus and motivation to put in the effort for the challenge.

I’m currently a little giddy about the prospect of the challenge as I’m in the overly-optimistic stage and believing I’ll manage to complete the challenge. There are one or two ideas for possible novels, but one of them is speaking louder than the others. If I produce the book that is currently floating around my brain, it’ll be worth the sweat and anxiety over the course of the month.

By posting about it here, I’m making the challenge all the more real in my head. Plus it means that it’ll be quite disappointing for me come December 1st if I didn’t give it a decent attempt.

So onwards with more adventures with pen and ink!

Get some perspective

The latest update on my exploration with writing is the subject of perspective, paricularly with regards to the lead character(s) in a story.

Who’s telling the story?

If it’s first person, the reader will only know what is shared with them. The teller may not be honest for a variety of reasons unknown to the reader. Best example would be the Usual Suspects movie. The teller is sharing the story but neglecting to mention important details, or adding fictional details. All of which adds to the the twist of the movie.

In the third person, the inner thoughts/motives can be hidden from the reader. This can affect the impression the reader forms about the characters. This means that dialogue and the actions of the characters have to try and convey something that might have been revealed through inner dialogue if the story had been in the first person.

Then you have a kind of “god” narrator where all thoughts of all characters are exposed to the narrator. There are probably some pros and cons for this type of narrator also, but I’m currently drawing a blank on this one.

There are probably rules about writing stories and what is the appropriate perspective, or at least the traditional perspective. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall any childrens books written in the first person. Generally it’s the third person (or possibly the “god narrator”) where it’s written something along the lines of “Plumber Pat got in his van and drove to the local supermarket.”

A good example that springs to mind, that is related to this topic, is a scene in the movie Good Will Hunting. In the scene, Will (Matt Damon) is telling Sean (Robin Williams) a story about one time he was on a plane. Will delivers the punchline, and Sean responds by asking him if he was ever on a plane. Will answers by saying that the joke works better in the first person.

Perspective can make or break a story/joke. So for now, I shall try out different perspectives in some scenes to see how they work or don’t.

Subject to status

Following on from the last post, the current topic of exploration is status. This ties in with the motivation of a character. Their status can determine their motivations.

Two people with different social status would probably be motivated differently on some level. Financial status would be another example. A wealthy person would have a different reaction to finding some food left on a park bench compared to someone who doesn’t have the money to eat regularly. And there are many, many more types of status that make one character different to another. The desire to achieve a certain status woiuld also be a motivator.

Examining the loss of status can also throw up some good possibilities for a story.

This is another example of something that should have been obvious when creating a character. But like many things, it wasn’t until it was spelled out for me that I realised the importance of it.