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Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

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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I had very little time over the last few days, so I chose a bit of a cheat rather than to miss a week, and read one of my convention freebies!

Book 16 – The Double Clue, by Agatha Christie.  This is a selection of four short stories featuring Hercule Poirot, and with introductions by Sophie Hannah (who recently wrote a new Hercule Poirot book) and John Curran (an expert on Agatha Christie, who was a panellist at the Crime Writing Convention I attended).  The stories take the reader from London to Egypt, with Poirot and his friend Hastings foiling theft, murder, fraud and misrepresentation.

This was aThe Double Clue really easy, quick read, and had nothing of the complexity I expect from Christie due to the length of the stories; I even knew the outcome in a couple of cases!  However, this book wasn’t designed for that: it’s more a coffee break with a slice of cake book.  You can probably read a story in around 15-20 minutes if you’re a reasonably fast reader so it would be perfect on a train or waiting for an appointment, that sort of thing.  From a practical point of view it’s a great little book.

As for the stories – they were fun, if not complex.  I particularly liked the seasick, dishevelled version of Poirot (briefly) described in the last tale.  My favourite line in the book was ‘Also the heat, it causes my moustaches to become limp – but limp!’. The idea of Poirot ending a sea voyage with his moustache flopping down his face made me chuckle 🙂

I don’t think there’s too much more to say about this without giving away any plot points, but it has made me think about digging out some more short reads for those brief moments in between things when I don’t really want to get into my writing because I haven’t got enough time or peace, but I want to do something other than sit expectantly!

 

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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This week I’ve split my writing between poetry and prose again.

In the prose corner, it’s all been about whodunnit. I’ve been gaily writing away and building up the story; although I said at the start it would be a short story (I thought about 20,000 words) I think it is drifting towards novella lengths and when completed it’ll be about 50,000.

I know there’s a writing purpose to this – all about the twisty-turny plot points – but the story exists in its own right and I have to go with my gut and get it on paper. I’m going to keep my target at 3000 words this week but hope to exceed that to keep the momentum up.

There are some technical points I need to address but that’ll come with the first revisions.

In the poetry corner sit a few pieces that I’ve drafted up, that now need a bit of tlc to get them reading-ready. I am working on building my set for the listening lunches, as I’ve said before, so it’s important not to lose sight of the flow from one piece to another. There needs to be some link between them, whether that is style, tone, subject, emotion – whatever, really; it just needs to be right.

I started a new one today that sits with a couple I’ve already done – there’s an underwater theme, but each one tells a different story – of hope, finding a place in the world, loneliness, captivity and so on. It’s a really exciting theme for me; almost as exciting as the space theme I was working on a couple of years ago!

In other news – Book 78 on the 100 novels list is another American classic (that I haven’t read): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It came up as an option for reading group this year but based on my desire to read less dramatic/difficult/depressing books we opted for something else first!  I won’t read it yet but it may come up through the group later in the year.

And finally – a bit about B4Peace.  This one is falling well off my radar as I am struggling to find time for two posts a week at the moment, let alone adding in B4Peace posts or Thoughts on a Thursday.  This is bothering me quite a lot!  However, I am trying to keep peace in my life: I am off to a mindfulness in the workplace event (which I’ll tell you about next week) and I am seeking out sayings and quotes I can share to add a little calmness to the end of my post each week.

Here’s one of Cicero’s that I recently found:

Peace is liberty in tranquility

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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Three times this week I’ve been amazed we’re in March already – where does time go?

This week I didn’t want to see it slip between my fingers and although a few drops did get away I managed to get a lot done this week. So much so, in fact, that I have about 10 minutes to write this post!

From a writing point of view, the most important aim was to get back on track with my whodunnit and get 3000 words further towards the conclusion. Well, I will tick this one off as completed – I actually came in about 100 words short but we have everything set up for the discovery of the victim, alibis with built-in problems, a breakdown on the way and everyone with a range of motives and unfortunate choices of words.

It’s fun, doing this – if I can just keep on track, and keep building up the story I think I’ll learn a lot about using small details to manufacture misleading strands of stories.

Phew, try saying ‘manufacture misleading strands of stories’ a few times!

Other than writing I’ve had two family events; dance class; gym time; a visit to a charity clairvoyant evening and of course work. Being busy is definitely better than being bored but next week I hope will be a little less frenetic!

The good thing about all this life stuff, of course, is that it inspires many different things, from lines of poetry to scene-setting and character traits.  This week a few things have really struck me and I want to start recording potential character profiles for future use!

I am going to leave in other news for today as it’s gone 11pm and I need to get some sleep soon; however I will take this opportunity to say I’ll set another 3000 word target for this week, which will see me through discovery and the first suspect being identified. This is my favourite suspect so I am looking forwards to getting them into an interrogation!

Until next time,
Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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Sorry this is late – my internet issues summed up last week, really: one minute I was jogging along, and the next something went awry.

So first of all the lost (other than my wi-fi!) – I have somehow lost all the work I did on the whodunnit after 15 February. I was typing it up on the go, on my new phone, and I think I must have done something wrong because the document has vanished into the cyber-ether. I am frustrated, but not horrified: I am wallowing in the story and I will treat this as a chance to re-boot. By way of this post I will give myself a target of 3000 word this week to make up for what’s vanished.

And onto the found.  I’ve found a bit of poetry mojo; I want to write a whole new set of works in the coming months, and the poetry really seems to be firing right now. My lovely husband made a comment that led me into one, and our general chit-chat on a journey through Wiltshire led to another. Two in a weekend, both of which have something in them I like, is a really positive outcome for me.

I found time to spend with my friends at reading group.  We didn’t actually discuss any reading though, just had a meal and a chinwag – so it was basically a girl’s night!

I also found challenges.  One challenge was a driving experience which I didn’t want to do but had to do, for work – I did it, and that’s enough for me 🙂 Another was a rather deep-end re-entry to dance classes where we had to perform six, none of which I’d ever done before!

On balance the week looks pretty good, in retrospect. Even the lost writing hasn’t fazed me as it might have done, because I know I’d gone down the wrong rabbit hole. For a short story, this one is really becoming over-complicated, and I will use my 3000 words this week not only to get back on track but to near completion.

In other news – I seem to have lost a week in the 100 novels, because book 76 was On the Road by Jack Kerouac and I never mentioned it.  It’s another classic of American literature, but I’ve only really become aware of it in the last few years.  I love the idea of it, but wonder if I should have read it when I was younger and more open to the idea of just going off.  I’ll add it to the ‘read me’ pile and maybe get to it one day!

Book 77 – Voss, by Patrick White – is another one I’ve never read.  It sounds full of anger and I don’t know that I want that now so it won’t go on the list but I do love books set in Australia – the sheer scope of the country is always so overwhelming and majestic.

And finally – having started a new job today I am going to have to reorganise my life for the next few months.  I don’t want my writing to sink under a lot of other daily tasks, so I am also intending to reconfigure the writing timesheet and report my progress.  I won’t do it all the time but maybe once a month, just so you can give me a virtual prod if I’m slacking!

Until next time – happy writing!

EJ

🙂

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This week I continued with the whodunnit, caught up on some of the coursework I should have done, and got back into the swing of writing group.

I’ve pressed on with the whodunnit despite still feeling a little conflicted about the detective.  I have gone for a police detective for realism but the more I think about it the more I think the likes of Marple or Holmes work precisely because they are not official – they are not constrained by the rules of the law and can do things that wouldn’t make good policy!  I also feel that it’s made the story become a bit sludgy as I try to get the jargon and legal process right.

In a last-ditch attempt to get a balance between professional detective and civilian sleuth, I have had a Miss Marple marathon running over the weekend in the background.  This week my writing time will be very limited as I have things on every evening after work – predominantly rehearsals, sadly! – but I will revisit the story and see which direction I want to go.  I am trying not to get too bogged down in the minutiae, bearing in mind my reason for trying this was purely to practise the written art of misdirection, and think if I continue down my current path I’ll lose focus again which I don’t want to do!

In the meantime, I have started work on a new poem for performances, called ‘The Ties That Bind’.  I like it and I feel it has legs so will be working on that in the next few weeks as well.

Alongside the writing, I am getting back into my studies, on a fairly basic level – I am doing the bare minimum work and no interactive elements such as forums, because I don’t have time, but I wanted to get back to learning which I find so inspirational.  I still have ideas to explore about history and society that may become poems rather than novels or short stories just because I want to get them onto paper!

And finally, this week also saw the return of writing group.  We have a new venue which is a local pub, and I’m not sure it’ll be entirely successful but we’ll give it a while to try it out.  As we arrived it was snowing, and a great big log fire was a very welcome sight!  I am pushing us all to have writing targets this year, and we are going to run a children’s writing competition locally, so I hope everyone’s a little more invested now.  We even have newbies joining us, which is great fun!

I’ll leave it there as it’s nearly midnight and I have to get up for work!  Decisions on detectives will be made soon…

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I have done a lot of reading this week. Three novels to be precise, by writers separated by a mix of gender, age, nationality and time period.

I compared them, seeing what drew me into them: characters, storylines, ideas, genre, settings all had an impact on my way of perceiving them, and it gave me a chance to think about what skills I need to develop in my own writing.

I was surprised how much the storyline of the third book appealed to me, as it was a crime novel, a modern-style ‘whodunnit’. I have found this genre more enticing over the last year or so, but historically it’s not really been that interesting to me and has never been what I would choose to write.

And yet… I think that might be a great way to get back into the art of writing. To try out a new challenge and a new genre. Not with any intention of getting a full novel or a marketable piece of work from it; more because I want to get myself out of the writing slump I am in right now.

There is something that puts me off completing my current work in progress, a sense that the tangled histories can’t be portrayed effectively using my natural style of writing.  The plot is there, the setting is there, the idea is there – but I am not sure I am able to sell it.  I think exploring a ‘whodunnit’ idea might help me with this block in my approach.  It will allow me to test out ways to mislead and misdirect the reader in a way that commercial fiction doesn’t really allow.

I remember being taught not to introduce ideas or characters that don’t affect story outline but that is precisely where ‘whodunnits’ succeed: they bring in red herrings, lines of enquiry that appear to go nowhere, characters who couldn’t have been the killer.  It is the way their information is used that makes them valuable, and that is the writing skill I want to develop.

So the next few weeks will see me planning a short crime story complete with cast, alibis, motives and of course victim.  If I can get to grips with the filtering of information from unreliable witnesses, untrustworthy narrators and unwilling conspirators I will be ready to go back to the work in progress and make something of it.

And if I can’t, I’ll know I need to consider another approach!

In other news – I am falling behind in the 100 novels list, but suffice it to say I haven’t read 66 or 67.  Now I am exploring the books I inherited I am far more likely to come across obscure and out of print books of the 40s/50s/60s than anything else for a while (just because these are currently the easiest to reach!) I am not going to add to my personal reading list for a while and will simply see where the tales take me!

And finally – with panto rehearsals, my new dance classes, book club and writing group, my evenings are going to be quite busy for the next few weeks, so I am not going to re-start the Thoughts on a Thursday posts yet.  I do, however, hope to get back on track with these once I’ve learnt all my lines and cues for the show.  Having never done any local am dram I may have taken on a bit more than I can chew with this one, but it’s all in good fun…

Happy new year to you all,

EJ

🙂

 

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