Saturday, January 22, 2011

Useful writing tips

The past few weeks have been very productive writing wise.  In November I set myself a target to write a 60,000 word novel and have it ready to enter the Clendon Award deadline date 28th February.

Progress to date: 50,000 give or take a few so I am quietly pleased. The book is at the most difficult stage, for me, where all the loose ends of the plot needs to be tied up, a point where I always strike difficulties.

It necessitates extracting the red herrings and making sure all the telling little details were where they should have been all the way through the story.

Nothing annoys me more  when I've finished reading a book and I'm left thinking whatever happened to Joe Blog and that pesky little dog of his. He was there for quite a while and I enjoyed his forays and then he was left hanging and ended up being forgotten.

So how do I ensure all the loose ends are tied.

What works for me is putting away my editing hat and reading...wearing my reader's hat.
Some writers find this difficult.

And I'll admit that it's not easy but it's a skill I've developed that I find invaluable.
How do I do it.
When I think a ms is ready for reading I print it out, find a quiet seat where I won't be interupted  with a red pen in hand and read. And most important of all turn off my internal editor.

If anything's strikes me as not reading right I mark the margin with a notation:
PP for plot point
Ch for character point
OCH for out of character
Gr for grammar
SS for sentence structure

Where a whole papgraph is off one diagonal red strike through line.
These simple notations don't stop the flow of my reading and yet give me a quick reference  for anything that jars.

I've found this works and makes editing easier ensuring I can quickly find and fix any passage.
without bogging the writer down with my internal editor.

Try it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year Writing Goals and Celebrating a wonderful find

A new year is not only well under way for me it is also a new cycle in this journey we all call life.

Christmas time every year is a double whammy celebration as I also celebrate another birthday. And this year we had a lovely family dinner served on an antique dinner service a lovely G & J Meakin one. There is a very touching personal story behind this dinner service. For years as a Christmas baby, my grandmother and mother gave me cup saucer and plate sets. (Obviously stumped for choice of the double whammy gifts).

Most of these sets remain intact in my cabinet and are brought out and used with great pride on special occasions. I suspect this gift giving was the start of my love affair with china, and certainly led me into the field of antiques.

My Nana gave me one in this pattern, a lovely cream ware set with a big spray of luscious blackberries. It met a sad fate when my children decided on a mud pie tea party and borrowed it and alas it never survived.

I've never seen the pattern again until recently. I've since found the odd piece and was slowly amassing pieces then just before Christmas I found a whole dinner service.

Perhaps this is an omen but I decided to write another book at the same time as I found this dinner service.

And it is already three quarters finished.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the creative process. The writing down on words as they pour into my brain.
Where do they come from? I can never find an adequate answer.

Now I know where the original idea for the story came from. We used to live in a house that overlooked a much used walkway to the village centre. One day while doing the dishes I saw this woman running up the walkway at great speed looking over her shoulder long blonde hair streaming back over her shoulder. 

My rational mind said she was probably a local teacher late for school. My devious creative mind... ah that's a whole different ball game.

The image stuck in my mind.

And so Ashlyn Pritchard was born.  I've grown to love this feisty and yet vulnerable heroine.

And of course the man who steps in to save her. Katherine Bay bad boy Jace Mullein. I don't know what it is about bad boys. You've just got to love them even if you and your heroine could frequently slap them upside of the head.