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Posts Tagged ‘exercises’

This week I had yet another bug (and we haven’t even got into the winter cold season yet!) which wiped me out for a few evenings. Hopefully I’ve seen the back of that now but it was a reminder that it only takes a few days to lose the writing habit.

In order to cheer myself up a little I invested in some new writing tools – a book of short exercises which I will be able to do in my lunchtimes (unlike the plot and structure ones which require longer sessions) and a big pack of pens in lots of different colours which I can use to mark up my output. I like to use colour as a tool in presenting ideas, as it can be useful at identifying themes and patterns.

Never let it be said you can have too many of either!!

It’s not all doom any gloom on the writing front though – I have done some writing exercises this week, trying to work out both Fred’s next move and whether there is any life left in the crime story I was working on before I got ill in the summer.

I have not really wanted to pick that one up again because I feel so removed from it, but the characters were interesting. I am considering keeping them and the setting, but building a new story around them.

I would like to do that. As there was a degree of confusion in my key character already – she wasn’t sure whether she trusted her perception of events – I think there is scope to change the storyline and bring a different outcome to bear without losing her voice or her sense of disequilibrium.

However, I know from my mistakes before I have to work hard at the planning stage – so daytime exercises will be generating ideas and imagery, evenings will be spent shuffling things around and seeing what has possibilities by leaning more heavily on my plot and structure tools.

Only when I have a full, strong, narrative will I actually start the writing phase. It’s like decorating a house – you have to do the prep work first!

So this week has been a little slow, but useful; next week I need to step it up a gear.

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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I have often talked about my love of space, and my personal belief (hope?) that there is other life out in the universe. For long-term readers, you may even remember I took a course on Astrobiology because of this interest.

For every academically rigorous course there is a more niche set of beliefs in abduction, ancient aliens and so on which I also lap up, watching tv programmes, films, and reading articles.

I won’t travel that road today, but maybe I will in the future!

This fascination with ETs is something I have often considered bringing into my writing – after all, there is clearly an audience for sci-fi and it’s something I find really exciting; I’m sure I could retain interest in the ideas.

The traditional ‘pioneers’ route is not my writing style at all; it’s more like a Western or perhaps even a historical empire-type novel transferred to a different location, and that’s not what I write. But could I write about a family living on a moon over the far side of the Milky Way? Probably.

The question is, would anyone read it? My genre is women’s commercial fiction. Genre writing generally – not always – follows certain rules and although the rules can be subverted there is no saying an audience would be interested. A tale of love amongst the stars might sound fun, but would someone shopping for a new book to take on holiday pick it over a story they could immediately relate to their own life?

I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I would pick it, but I’m not representative of my target audience! And as my first book hasn’t been picked up (yet) which may in part be due to its slightly contentious subject matter, should I worry whether it’ll be read anyway? If I want to write it, I just should.

One of my new exercises is to map out ideas and see if they have any real merit. Maybe I’ll have a special session for extra terrestrial stories and see what comes of it…

Who knows, a story about Out There might not be as out there as I think!

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of a Thursday post. I got caught up in a lot of things this week and never got around to sharing anything. I thought about doing something on Friday but the moment passed and now it’s Sunday so there’s no point trying to catch it up!

Now that’s out of the way…

I was reading last week’s post about Fred needing an outing and this week he has had a little adventure. For reasons best left in the Jurassic period where Fred currently resides, he is running away from a huge fire and has just shared his plan for survival with a very patronising adult who keeps patting him on the head.

Despite the temerity of this adult Fred is nevertheless willing to help out and get everyone to safety, even if no-one realises he is playing any part in the rescue efforts…

I scrapped his trip to Stonehenge though.  He wasn’t enjoying the journey and is going to a zoo instead…

What I had also intended to do this week was to set myself some writing exercises to build on the work I have done regarding plot and structure. That hasn’t worked out as I planned and I need to set it up better. The suggestion is to set aside an hour each week for an individual task on generating plotting ideas. In a few weeks I’d look at what I’d got and dispose of the rubbish and keep anything with possibilities. I want to do it but I have not had a quiet, uninterrupted time to do it this week.

I will make one next week, even if I have to unplug the phone!

In other news – I am seriously considering another writing course, possibly focussed on editing through to (self?) publication. I have thought a lot about why my completed novel hasn’t been picked up by an agent and a big part of me thinks I need to put that idea aside and move on. However, the part of me that thinks a dream should be pursued thinks I should do what I need to do to get there.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I found a course with seemingly very good reviews which is designed to help students pull a manuscript into the best possible order – so whether the book is traditionally or self published it is as professionally edited and presented as possible.

It’s not the cheapest course but I was prepared to spend money on learning for fun so it seems silly to begrudge spending to achieve a dream.

I will do some more research and see if this is the best option for me and let you know!

Until next time,
Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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It’s the last day of my break now and I’m a little sad that I am back to work tomorrow. It’s been very restful even with going away for a few days but tomorrow it’ll all go back to normal.

I have to admit Fred hasn’t travelled much with me, and is languishing somewhere near Stonehenge but I have been reading about plot and structure as well as tackling some novels. I wasn’t going to read them but sitting down with a coffee on a squishy chair isn’t as relaxing when you’re reading a text book…

I am about to start re-reading the plot and structure book because it is filled with exercises I want to try out, but that is for next week’s post!

It’s been a useful exercise to revisit some basics though. When I write I tend to fall into certain patterns and behaviours, and the book should help with stripping out the bad behaviours and focussing on a cleaner, more precise, narrative flow.

As importantly, it gives me tools to check the narrative itself – specifically whether it is strong enough to be the foundation of a novel. That is a discipline I need to work on, now more than ever due to my restricted writing time.

The other thing I have been doing is getting back to photography. I went to a couple of Medieval religious buildings and duly paid for photography permits so I could at least attempt to record some of what I saw.

At it was Remembrance Day on the 11 November the buildings were dressed with poppies, which is always a poignant reminder of how history shapes our experience of life, especially when is buildings that have stood for so long.

The last couple of weeks have definitely been more about theory than practice, but I don’t think that is a bad thing for me. I just have to remember that Fred needs a bit of an outing too!

Happy Writing,
EJ
🙂

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I said on Sunday that my reading this week would be textbooks and guides to help me get back on the writing track. It’s a little like studying, only without a set book list…

I am currently reading a book called ‘Plot and Structure‘ by James Scott Bell. I have read it before but as planning is where I need to focus my writing development it seemed a good place to start. I clearly need to take more from it this time!

There is of course no way to review it in the usual sense, and I haven’t finished revisiting it, but so far it seems very practical, which I need.

This type of reading will replace novels for a little while – but I am happy to share my views of the writing guides instead, if you are interested – just let me know in the comments.

Happy reading,
EJ
🙂

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It’s been a running joke with a friend at work that he wants me to write a story for him.  Based on a variety of strange and unconnected discussions this week I began on an animal time traveller story…

It’s a concept that would work well for children, and therefore the story is definitely being written with that mindset; never mind the age of the audience, the story dictates the style!

This is really how I started writing as an adult – children’s short stories either made us as a joke with a friend or made up for my nieces and nephews. I was often called upon to tell multiple sequences of stories, where the same characters appeared time and time again.

I’d forgotten all that really – children’s writing was not the way I chose to go but there’s a degree of freedom in it that you don’t get in writing for adults.  It was a lovely way to spend time with the kids, and they would even make their own tales up for me after a while.

So in my return to writing, having a fun, silly, pressure-free project is a joy, quite honestly: it’s a return to a more organic nature of storytelling which I love. It’s like going back to basics where your imagination is completely free to go wild, there’s no constraint on the nature of reality and you can anthropomorphise anything you like to make the start of your story.

Maybe I’ll stick with children’s stories for a bit – they are the most effective way I have ever found to stretch the bounds of my imagination.

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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Well, the editing didn’t get finished as hoped, but that’s fairly standard – it always takes longer than I expect and there’s been quite a few other life distractions that have cut into my working time.  I just have to keep on tracking down all those little niggles and smoothing them out for a little bit longer.

I need to get it done before 1 March though, because I don’t want it hanging about for too long: I’ll be really busy with my paid job after that for a little while, and I probably won’t get a lot of writing time.

I have one other piece of writing work to get done this week too – an exercise for writing group.  I kind of feel that I have to do it as it’s the ‘homework’ I set people, to try out a particular technique and see if it helps them.  Much as I find with the blog, I never really know what people will want from one month to the next, but I figure it’s good to share exercises and approaches that work for me because worst case scenario, they won’t work for someone else – there’s no risk factor.

Anyway, rather than talk about what I haven’t done, I’m going to share some positives…

  • I got my tickets to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • I got a costume sorted out for a charity 1920’s dinner party next weekend
  • I planned a trip to see family in the North of England
  • I arranged not one but two reunions with school friends  It’s a big anniversary year this year so I have quite a few events with different people to plan!

So not all bad; in fact some pretty cool ticks on the list this week – they’re just not quite where I was intending to tick.

But I take the good where I can.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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