Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New Story!

I have had a busy summer, which means I haven't been able to write as much as I would have liked - HOWEVER I have been able to put together a short story which I will be releasing on my Wattpad chapter by chapter, each Friday up until Halloween!

Enthralled follows Stella, a huntress with only one mission: to kill. But one night she has decided to take on a Vampire hive completely alone and it seems she has an ulterior motive.

The first Chapter is to be released this Friday, but until then, here is a sneaky peek at the cover:

Friday, 4 October 2013

What’s the meaning of all this?

I enjoy writing stories (obviously!) but why?

It is often a question which plagues new writers (and some seasoned ones). It is a question I was asked a lot when I first started out, and now that I am starting my MA I have been asked the question again.

It is not out of incredulity: ‘Why on earth do you want to write stories?!’ – it is usually asked by teachers and other writers because once you have got to the root of WHY you are writing something, the whole journey can become a lot clearer.

Not just for your career, but for each and every piece of writing.

With my last story ‘Gretel’ I set out with a clear message in mind, I new that was why I was writing the story and every time I veered off that track I was able to go back to that core message and bring the story back to where I knew it should be going.

My current project is a follow up to ‘Gretel’ in that it is another reworking of a fairytale - although this time it is the more obscure Nordic tale of ‘Lorelei’ - and exactly the same thing has happened!

I initially set out with a very clear message in mind, a moral if you will, and as I have written the story I have been dragged about in different directions and allowed myself to go on tangents.

I won’t be too hard on myself, because I know from experience that tangents can turn out to be exactly the path you need to take, and so they are worthwhile pursuing. But as I review and edit the first draft, I have found it helpful to ask myself at each chapter ‘What is the meaning of this? What is it saying?’ because I am discovering that although I set out to make one point, in some cases I have started to make another.

Luckily, because I set out with a clear message in mind, it will only take a few subtle changes here and there to bring the whole story into alignment, but I think it shows that it is always worth asking yourself, why am I writing this?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A New Beginning

After the whole summer building up to it, I have FINALLY started my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Essex! WOOHOO

There is a LOT of reading to do and a LOT of writing to do but check out this video of the lift in the library:

How am I supposed to use that?!

I now have a new thing to addto my list of fears: Paternosters – it is TERRIFYING!!!! (I am using caps a lot in this post, can you tell I’m excited?) Although everyone claims it is safe, it looks so easy to fall out of that thing! I shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it, plus there are signs all over it saying that children aren’t allowed on it so that is a sure sign it is dangerous! – and if you don’t pay attention you can easily go all the way around and into the dark recesses of ‘above’ and ‘below’ where it warns of the dangers of stopping the machinery – I don’t want to stop the machinery!!!

Anyway, new fears aside (for now), it is all very exciting and I am especially looking forward to the fresher’s fair on Saturday where I can start choosing all the new societies I’m going to join!

But don’t worry! I am still going to dedicate time to working on my novella’s including my current story ‘Lorelei’ – I am having a bit of a fight with chapter four today and in the end I decided that it was just wrong, wrong, wrong and so I’ve cut out a great swathe of that chapter and started again, it just wasn’t where I wanted it to be and I really felt I wasn’t being brave enough… so it has been rebooted!

Also coming up soon (between lectures and writing sessions) I am going to be taking part in an author event at the Virtual Living Room – if you aren’t a member, you really should be! Check it out now! Because this is my very first event of any kind where I am being classed as an ‘author’ – I’ve never done any interviews or talks or anything, so I am a little bit terrified (should I add it to my list of fears?) about how it will go… wish me luck!

Or even better pop into the event between the 11th and 14th of this month and check it out!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

All the things are happening!

I know I have been rather quiet over social media recently. I’m afraid everything has gone on hold somewhat over the last few weeks of summer.

I have been working two jobs, which has kept me more than busy enough, although one of those jobs will be coming to an end next week, so I am hoping that will give me a few more precious hours a week!

Also, I finally got my welcome pack for university!

So I am now officially a student at the University of Essex, and I will be starting my two year MA course in creative writing on September 29th! Of course that will mean a lot of my writing time will be taken up with course work rather than the stories I want to write, but I think in the long term it will be a massive boost to my writing skills, and will give me more confidence about what I can do.

I will also be learning about screenwriting and play writing, so there may be a few short films that I write over the next couple of years, and I would be so excited to get them made by the film students! But that is all just speculation at this stage.

So, my big project at the moment, ‘Lorelei – a Fairytale Retold’ is still in the pipeline, I’ve had the odd few minutes here and there to add to the first draft, but those precious minutes have been few and far between. It seems that whenever I’ve had a few hours to spare those hours have been immediately taken up with something else!

Such is the life of a writer!

I have had the absolute luxury of having time to write over the last twelve months and now I have to get use to having to balance. It is a slow process which is even harder for someone with little patience!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Filling Blanks with Fantasy

As I get further and deeper into the first draft of my novella, I’m starting to join together the plot points originally created in my synopsis.

There are moments and places I want to visit in the story that I feel are important in creating a tale that really explores the world I have in my imagination, and I am only now just getting to the really fun part where I am in the grip of the writing fever and my creativity is running on full steam.

fantasy is more fun!
Although I have written a synopsis, I am not sticking to it rigidly. It was written more as a framework on which to hang my story, a starting place, rather than a blueprint that need to be rigidly adhered to.

So now I am at the stage where I am putting the meat onto the skeleton and I am starting to see the picture coming together; motivations are making sense, sequences of events are beginning to flow naturally and even though I am not ‘there’ yet, I am close to a place where the first draft is looking pretty healthy.

There are some parts where I have had to stop and really think about what I am trying to say, what story I am trying to present, and one thing which kept coming up again and again was the idea of ‘realism’.

This strange idea of realism kept on stopping me from going ahead with ideas, I kept thinking ‘oh that can’t happen because it would take too long for those characters to travel from that realish place to the other realish place’ and this desire to be ‘true’ kept tripping me up when I was in full on writing mode.

I had to give myself a good talking to and remind me (ok I admit I have been working on my own for too long) what I write for.

I don’t write in order to present a gritty, true story, to tell it how it would have been at the time or (in this case) how a fairytale could have really happened. That is not my raison d'ĂȘtre.

In my fairytale stories I want to bring out that fantasy world, when I read I don’t want to be hit in the face by too much 'truth', I want to travel to places I could never visit and experience things I could never experience!

So with my writing inhibitions locked in a box for another day, I have now embarked on my exciting journey afresh.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Knowing When to Stop

For the last week I have been working on the first draft of my new novella ‘Lorelei’, it has not been a steady progression, a wonderful outpouring of words filling up a blank space (as one might imagine is the case with a writer) instead it has been a few snatched moments here and there between work and study in which I have stared at the page and jotted down a few bits here and there.

Because I only have these ‘snatched moments’ I have had to be very careful about managing my workload,
and my own expectations.

I may have a good day in which I write 1,000 words an hour, for a few hours in a row. But that doesn’t mean that in a snatched 30 minutes before I leave for work in the morning that I will definitely be able to hit a target of 500 words, all perfect poetry in their placement on the page.

But try telling that to my subconscious expectation!

So at the moment I am trying to find a careful balance between quality writing time and quality resting time – making sure that I find the time to stop and do nothing, allow my mind to wander, so that I am refreshed enough to make good use of the little time I have.

This last week has been particularly difficult as I know exactly what I want to write, plus I have had the time to write it – but my creative energy simply hasn’t been there. I have struggled each day to spit out a few hundred words. And that’s when I know I have to stop.

Just stop completely, take the day off, enjoy the sunshine, go to the beach, rest my body and my brain and allow that creative energy to slowly recharge.

The most difficult thing then is to manage the ‘writer’s guilt’ of resting when I could be writing!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Synopsis

Now, I know some authors go back over their finished project in order to create the synopsis, some even pay others to write the synopsis for them as they find the idea of condensing their story into a tiny fraction of it's natural length far too much of a burden and they need a pair fresh independent eyes.

However, I like to write the synopsis first and then work from it to create the story. It gives me a guideline to follow, it means I don’t wander off in different directions and have to come back and cut out great swathes of my work that simply doesn’t fit the story.

For me, working from a synopsis is the best way to maximise my creativity.

As you may know, I have spent the last few days plotting out my novella and then creating the storyline by filling in the gaps. What I ended up with was an A4 sheet (do my American friends use A4? I have heard a rumour that there are other mysterious paper sizes out there?!) listing all the events in the story as a series of bullet points.

I have now taken this list and written it as prose, colouring the bullet points with scene and character, all leading fluidly from one to the other, to create a very detailed synopsis. It will probably work out at roughly 10% of the finished piece so at 1,450 words it means the novella will end up at around 14,000 or thereabouts.

It will take an hour or so to comb through the synopsis in detail, making sure that things happening towards the end make sense with regard to what happened before, and ensuring that I haven’t started any threads which then go and get themselves lost.

But the next stage of the process is one of the most exiting!

The first draft!

This will be a case of speed writing the whole novella. I can’t afford to worry myself about mistakes, or inconsistencies at that point, it is all about letting the words flow. It is so easy to come to the computer and spend an hour playing around with a sentence, only for the whole paragraph to be cut later on!

So over the next few days I will try to ensure that every hour spent at the desk is used for writing (with brief breaks away to clear my head and maybe have a flit about on social media!) and I'm also going to set a word target and keep to it – with that in mind I will be tweeting and posting on Facebook during my writing days to keep you all up to date with how the first draft is progressing  and to keep myself motivated to keep going.

Wish me luck!