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Posts Tagged ‘research’

With my visitors this last week, I have not thrown myself into a new book – but we have all been going for the non-fiction option.

It’s a long time since I did a history or science class, and I’ve never written a paper on disaster responses, but these were just some of the areas I was talking about with the people I had staying.

It’s reminded me that there is a whole lot of information out there that might give me a different approach to my work.

In fact one of the topics I was reading up on was a disaster I remember even though I was only about nine when it happened; the images were so memorable and I can still see the scene as though on a tv.

It’s given me an idea for a kind of memorial poem, a piece that never mentions the specific event but draws my memories together to make a new piece.

Which goes to show that even if I don’t read a book, a newspaper or a historical article might be a good substitute for learning something new.

And in this case, what I learnt was that we can be affected by something even if we weren’t personally involved – and even if we don’t think about it without encouragement.

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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I have recently been working on finding quotes about a variety of concepts.  I started by looking things up for my wall at work, where my Action for Happiness poster is a little lonely because I have taken down some photos – I need to change things up sometimes!

I have subsequently been looking for quotes for other things, and other people.

I am not sure why they help but they do.  Perhaps it is the knowledge we are not alone in feeling something, or that a positive thought has a positive impact, or even that it gives us a different way of looking at things.

Whatever it is, it’s actually quite fun to look at lists of quotes.  As you may remember I was even inspired by a quote to write my poem Cicero and now I am pulling together a new set list I may well use that technique again.

There is power in words to inspire, delight, agitate and infuriate – and all of these can spur the writing imagination. Plus you might find a comic gem or two along the way!

So quotes are now in my basket of writing tools to draw upon when I need to spur my imagination – or my sense of humour!

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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This week I have been doing too much, and not enough.

There have been a lot of things going on – appointments, extra meetings at work, extra hours at work, reading a script for the drama group and so on – and writing has taken a little bit of a back seat.

It’s frustrating, but just because the words haven’t quite hit the page it doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning – it’s important for me to remember that!

I have mapped out logistically how to take what I picked up from the crime writing convention and apply it to the whodunnit. I have a new storyline because one of the key things I realised as I sat in that audience was that a police procedural is not my style.

Now, that’s a bit of a worry, because I wrote a story wrapped around a police officer. But with some tweaks, I can make it effective as a more angsty/psychological story which is more about perception and not entirely about reality…

It became really clear as I listened to police officers and ex police officers, and civilians who are authorised to go out in uniform in police cars, that it’s not the route I want to take. They are experts and can bring years of experience to their work, they can use the language, the systems, without fear of getting a major detail wrong.

I can’t do that, and I am not in a position to give up work to go around chasing gangs in a police car any time soon, so my best bet, and the one I think will work better, is to work with what I know: people.

At last, a degree in Sociology might have a tangible benefit!

There are resources, of course – but one thing I know from research (yay Sociology again!) is that there’s nothing better than doing your own: only you will know exactly what it is you are looking for.  This isn’t science, it is about people in potentially dangerous situations responding based on their own experience and belief system.  If I only needed a few details to pin it together, I could ask one of my lovely contacts for help.  However, there’s a lot more than that to do, and I have to make it work for me.

All this sounds like another head-hitting-wall moment but it really isn’t, because a) I realised what I can bring to my writing from my own background and b) the whodunnit was never meant to be anything more than an exercise in twisting a tale – the fact I have now seen its possibilities is completely unexpected and quite marvellous!

I am going to leave it there today, on what I truly think is a positive point. Next week I have to get back into sending out my work but for now I’m focussing on the fact that I am working, even when my pen hasn’t really touched my paper.

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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This week I’ve started working on the second Family Tree story. This has involved starting to plan a timeframe, individual circumstances and storylines, mapping out what has happened in the intervening period between the end of the last story and the beginning of the new.

It is far from a finished plan, but it feels as though it is slotting together quite naturally and I am looking forward to building up the storyline. I need to finish re-reading the original story to make sure I have all details correct but I have a good idea of where I’ll be going and that’s a real pleasure.

I have also arranged to go to a crime writer’s convention with a couple of other members of my writing group. This came about from a twitter post I saw from a recently published crime writer; I thought it was a great opportunity to develop what I have done with the whodunnit and get a feel for a wider writing experience.

My next step with that story is to pick up on the police procedural side and start to get that right. If you like, I have the bones of the story now, and it’s time to make sure those bones form a proper skeleton!

I also think going to a writing convention in and of itself is a great opportunity to hear how other writer approach difficulties, how they plan, what they have learnt in their journey towards publication… As a genre I am still getting to grips with, I am really excited to see what I can learn.

So this has been a good week. I am really buzzing about building contacts and enjoying my writing again; I have a little more time to write over the next few weeks, and I have a plan for what I want, and need, to do.

If only I felt this buoyant every week!

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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This week I got a good bit of writing done. I did a couple of thousand words on the whodunnit, which took me into a discovery; I worked on some poetry and I finally got back to a Thursday post.

That last one might not sound much but I always feel they are the most useful posts for me to write, because they allow me to grapple with an idea, thought process, decision or discussion and come to some sort of conclusion. From the point of view of my own writing I can see over time if I’ve become too set in my ways, if I’m missing a (writing) trick and so on.

I’m going to try really hard to get a couple done each month now I’m getting used to the change of structure in my life.

In the whodunnit, the body has been found and questions are being raised about exactly who was where and why, when the victim disappeared…. The blame is sweeping towards someone – but are they the guilty party?  Ooh, it’s really a lot of fun writing something so outside my wheelhouse. I have no idea if it’s any good for the genre but it doesn’t really matter because I am learning how to twist a tale, which is the whole point!

In between, the poetry work has continued and I’m choosing my next two to bring up to standard for public performance.  I love this time of year for poetry, somehow the longer days and brighter weather makes writing poetry a little easier.  Perhaps its the sense of light and freedom that means my mind can wander a little more!

In other news – We’ve reached book 81 of the 100 novels list, Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.  I haven’t read this one but I have to say that Lessing isn’t one of my favourite writers.  I have given up on her books before and about this time last year I nearly did so again so this isn’t one I’ll be seeking out for now.  But who knows, in 10 years time it might really appeal to me 🙂

And finally – In a month I’ll be going on holiday (yay!) but before that we in the UK are facing a prolonged political campaign to see who will become our next government. I wrote last week about wanting to be more political in my writing and I’m going to be testing my abilities by writing about what I see over the next few weeks.  Whether anything worth sharing comes from it I don’t know but it’ll be an interesting exercise is social commentary if nothing else!

Until next time,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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