About Me

My photo

Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

SUMMARY: MY FESTIVAL OF WRITING EXPERIENCE

I attended the Festival back in September... seems like a lifetime ago now.  And I am finally about the complete my diary of the weekend.  Going through my notes has been useful, I did not realise how much I had taken in until I reviewed them.  I consider myself lucky to have been able to attend this weekend.  It was a real treat, I actually felt like a writer, like I belonged.  The fact I had self published interested many budding authors on the pursuit of an agent and a publishing contract.  It was funny to be asked for advice!

I have to admit that since February of this year I have been on the steepest learning curve of my life.  From learning how to format, create a cover, discovering the beauty of using Beta readers to help me edit my novels, self editing and downloading to Smashwords and then Amazon.  I learnt how to make my novels look as professional as possible.  I am sure they could do with some further editing, but then I have read many “traditionally” published novels that could have been edited extensively.  I am sure you can all name a few…

Anyway, I have posted a fair amount on this blog and I think some of the posts are very useful for all of you aspiring or already published authors.  As a teacher, I know we are always learning, moving forward, we never know it all.  These notes might help you find something you forgot or did not consider.  Enjoy, share and comment…

Thank you to The Writer Workshop for hosting the event,
Carry on reading, writing and reviewing,
Vanessa Wester J xx

Summary of the Main Posts:

Self Editing you Novel with Debi Alper (Part 1 &2) – Excellent
Jojo Moyes Key Address – Outstanding
Creating Tension with Claire McGowenSuperb (great advice)
Creating Character with Julie CohenFantastic (helps you kick start a story)
Reimagining SFF: Fantasy & SciFi for the Modern Market with Lee HarrisInformative & enjoyable
Breaking the Rules by Sam MillsA great alternative way to write

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

BREAKING THE RULES by Sam Mills

People don't say what they do, they show... SHOW DON'T TELL

E.g. Pride & Prejudice - Austen uses great control, Lolita

Narrators can be unusual, sympathetic or unreliable.  They are the window into another world.

Sam gave us an exercise... Have to see Sleeping Beauty from a different point of view, choose an unusual narrator.  This is what I wrote...

I had a thumping headache after my restless night.  Someday, I would find a nicer home, a quieter one.  The owl had finally shut up as the sun rose and I was stretching out my wings when I heard the most God auful moise.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the carnage.

Branches flew into the air, flowers shrieked in pain, birds scattered in all directions.  Everyone fled.  No-one remained.  No-one except me.

Frozen on the spot, I watched in absolute fear.  what was this beast, this evil, that came towards us?  What could want to get through so badly?  My eyes followed the debris, transfixed, as it passed under me and made its way to the castle.  And then I realised, the castle...My lady.  I would not let anyone harm my beautiful lady.  I had watched over her since birth.

I leapt into action, and hovered over the scene.  I didn't know how to save her, but I would do my best all the same.  I would save her.  I would find a way.  My body shuddered as I realised what I was about to commit to.  I could not figure out how someone of my stature could beat such a beast.  A giant.

The giant progressed.

In the entrance, up the stairs, down the corridor.  I searched all round for a weapon, I needed a weapon.

This excerpt (in case you did not guess) was written from the point of view of a bird...

We discussed many other issues, which I did not write extensive notes on.

Some of the things that came up included...

Literary Fiction - Books that stand the test of time

Conflict - Drive

Romantic comedy - The Beautiful & the Damned (characters tend to be more pessimistic. They don't resolve the problem).

Hawthorne - Explore different crimes & murders

It was great to just chat about different ideas and styles... and this concluded my workshop experience! It was time to get my bags and go... My summary post will follow shortly!

Thanks for reading,
Vanessa :) xx

BOOK DOCTOR: SAM MILLS

I briefly attending The Art of the... Pause with Harry Bingham but had to dash out quickly for my Book Doctor appointment with Sam Mills.  So, I can't really say too much about it, other than - feel free to pause...

Twitter: @sammillsauthor

Sam was lovely... and had a hand written sheet with notes! Amazing... but again, it was all good! This was her feedback.


MARKET APPEAL

The idea is imaginative. I am glad you have created something a bit different from the usual paranormal romacne - but you need to make sure the concept isn't just vampires awith a different name attached to them.

The Evolution Trilogy isn't, so she was happy with the concept...

PROSE STYLE

Yes, the writing has pace and energy and I found it compelling.  Occasionally, there are cliches, however "she resembles a rabbit caught in headlights" - try to think up a fresher image.

This was removed from HYBRID, and I have avoided cliches in my writing now...

OPENING CHAPTER

The prologue is gripping and dramatic.  I enjoyed the characters.  I liked the way that each character is clearly defined, though you could still build Caitlin up with a few more details here and there e.g. why doesn't Julia like what Caitlin is wearing?

I explained that Caitlin is further described through the eyes of my main character, Steven, when he appears on the scene - again she was happy with this.

NEXT STEPS

I did enjoy reading this - just take care to make sure this stand out from the crowd and is different from Twilight.

Most of my readers have found the idea for The Evolution Trilogy to be unique and different from Twilight... read the reviews for Hybrid & Complications!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hybrid-The-Evolution-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B0081EV8Z8/ref=cm_rdp_product

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Copmplications-The-Evolution-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00ADAXWDY/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353922590&sr=1-5

Reimagining SFF: Fantasy & SciFi for the modern market with Lee Harris

My first workshop on Sunday involved Science Fiction.  Now, I have a confession to make here... I love Science Fiction movies but I rarely read Science Fiction books. In fact, even though many class my Evolution Trilogy as Science fiction, I see it as Romantic Suspense with an edge (or with a paranormal twist).

So, I really enjoyed this workshop - I learned a lot about a world I know nothing about.  I also got the chance to chat to Lee about my Evolution Series at the end.  He gave me some great advice and I decided my series was going to become a Trilogy... it took a lot of pressure off! Thank you Lee for taking the time to give me advice and for being so nice...

So first, let me introduce Lee Harris

Angry Robot’s Editor. Helps Marco decide what an Angry Robot author looks like, and does more than his fair share of marketing and making the tea. [NB, we don't drink tea.] Nice guy – politer than him, that’s for sure. Also publishes a well-known weekly fiction eZine -Hub, reviewed TV shows for the excellent (now sadly defunct) DeathRay Magazine, blogs and writes for SFX and occasionally updates his own blog at LeeAHarris.com. He’s also a Twitter bod, and the current Chair of the British Fantasy Society.

http://www.angryrobotbooks.com/

SCIENCE FICTION
  • Space Opera/ Western (Firefly)
  • Cyber Punk - HiTec Machinery (biological)
  • Post Apocalyptic
  • Steam Punk (Victorian)/ Diesel (WW1/ WW2)/ Cyber
  • Contemporary/ Modern - Urban Fantasy (Paranormal Romance)
  • Alternative History
  • Dystopian/ Utopian
  • Soft SF (Economics)
  • Hard SF (Physics)
FANTASY
  • Urban Fantasy - Paranormal Romance
  • Zombie Fiction
  • High Fantasy
POPULAR WRITING CHOICES

1) FILMS

If you write to market you might miss the boat... not if SF

2) BOOK SALES

Everyone else will have the same idea and try to come up with similar books...look at Twilight, Fifty shades - the market was flooded.

3) BOOK COVERS

This is less emotional/ more about trying to connect with the reader (for example - and this made me laugh - how many of you have seen the picture of the girl in a long dress looking over her shoulder, sometimes holding a sword?)

Personally, I stopped looking at books because the covers were the same when I was in my Twilight obsession...lol

4) WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THE MARKET

Trends...
  • Steam Punk
  • Retro Geek punk - Player One
  • Geeks rule the world
  • Elitist HiTec
  • Robot book
  • Dystopian - Hunger Games
  • Comic SciFi
  • Time Travel
  • Fiction from other cultures - Gods/ Godesses
  • Fantasy set in another country
Best chance of success
  • Compare to recent success
  • Influenced by...
  • Reminiscent of...
  • Include "reviews"
  • Should appeal to...
TO STAND OUT
  1. Write well
  2. Research the Market
  3. Think of a fresh concept within a Genre
  4. Make it a good read...
  5. Commercial

GALA DINNER PICTURES

Finally, I get to Saturday night... when I actually wore a very nice dress & makeup (those of you who know me, try not to faint, okay...)

ENJOY THE PICTURES...

Okay, me (in the middle - yeah that's me...ha ha) with Keri & Penelope - lovely ladies. I miss Keri, we instantly clicked!

Harry Bingham (on the right) giving thanks to various people...


 Some other people on my table...


Lots of budding writers looking for inspiration & hope (hmmmm... best not have too many of those!)



One to One with David Headley

During the workshop by Julie Cohen I had my second one to one with an agent, David Headley.

http://www.dhhliteraryagency.com/

David studied theology in London and Durham before co-founding and becoming the Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, a much admired independent bookseller, based in central London.

David has spent the last 14 years establishing Goldsboro Books and building good relationships with editors within the UK's major publishing houses. He has gained a reputation for championing debut authors and he created the UK's largest collectors' book club and is influential in selling large quantities of hardback fiction in the UK.


David is actively looking for new writers across the board, both general and genre fiction (excluding young adult, children’s, poetry, plays, screenplays and short stories). David is particularly interested in well written novels with strong characters and an original narrative voice.


I had heard from a friend that he had been very harsh on her writing, so I have to admit I was scared.  I had submitted three chapters of HYBRID and was ready to receive a grilling.

But, again it did not happen! I know, shock...

David mainly asked why I had choosen to go down the Self Publishing route, he did not understand the reasoning.  And then added that my writing was sound and very good, it just wasn't what he was looking for at the moment.  The fact it was kind of Young Adult was also an issue.

So, no slating, no critique, just a simple... not for me.

Might I add this is the problem for any debut novelist (I think)

QUESTION: How do you find the right agent for your writing and style?
ANSWER: Impossible... LOL



CREATING CHARACTER (JULIE COHEN)

I can't believe it has been so long since my last posting, so today I will try to finish my diary... Oh yes I will... (sorry I have doing a panto all of last week! Have to get it out of my system...lol)

Anyway, the next workshop I attended was Creating Character by the lovely Julie Cohen (a very bubbly lady - I want her energy!)

According to Julie, there are six ways to create character... I will expand on the exercises at the end.

1) Appearance/ Decription

Characters might fit their appearance, or be at odds with it. Beware of indigestible chunks of description, or cliches.
EXERCISE: Describe the Character's appearance)

2) Action: SHOWING not telling

Make characters active whenever possible, instead of telling what they're like
EXERCISE: Write about this character walking into a room and picking up an object

3) Symbolism

Use objects and settings to show significant aspects of your character
EXERCISE: Discover the significance of the object the character picked up

4) Conflict

This will drive your character forward through the entire story, and can be on an internal (emotional) and/ or external (plot) level.  The best conflicts grow out of internal conflicts.
EXERCISE: What's your character's biggest problem?

5) Character Arc

How does your character grow and change over the course of the story?
EXERCISE: What's your character's greatest quality and worst fault, and how do they connect?

6) Voice

Both the voice of the character as narrator, and voice in dialogue.
EXERCISE: Write dialogue as a script, and write first-person inner monolgue

TEN WAYS OF USING YOUR NEW CHARACTER (X) IN A STORY
  1. Put X in a place s/he doesn't belong
  2. Introduce X to a character with conflicting goals
  3. Introduce X to a chracter with the same goals but different motivation
  4. Make X face his/ her worst fear
  5. Give X an impossible task
  6. Make X make a horrible mistake
  7. Force X to confront the past
  8. Plunge X into unexpected fame
  9. Make X lose everything
  10. Make X win something unwanted, or which becomes unwanted
EXERCISES

During the course of this workshop we had to carry out the exercises.

My character was a male who I called TIGER QUINN, aged 19. (We had to select a number and letter cards to give us a start).  This is what I wrote...

Tiger Quinn was not the type of person who had ever been described as bright.  As long as Lisa could remember, he had been the drop out loser guy that every girls aspired to have as a boyfriend.  She was not one of those girls.  From the moment she set eyes on his muscular, tanned body and striking hazel eyes, she had known he was that type.  The type that would never be interested in someone like her.  And funnily enough, his idea to trip her up five years ealier had only solidified her hatred.  She would not forget, her memory was long.

Lisa happened to watch the door as he grabbed the handle and made his way in.  His slow, almost calculated (and obviously staged), walk was smooth. As he continued to move in her direction a smile broke out over his face.  She glanced over her shoulder, paranoid. she faced him again and realised he was actually smiling at her. He stopped next to her, leaned one hand on the table and winked.  then he picked up a chip from her plate, dipped it in her ketchup, and popped it in his mouth.  He chewed slowly, it was almost an attempt at seduction.  Almost.

He moved his hand to take another just as Lisa broke out of her trance and slapped his hand away.  Her eyes narrowed.

(This covered points 1 & 2)

Best attribute: Looks, kind, sharing
Worst attribute: Attitude, arrogance, pride

(For point 3)

Now we had to make them talk (she asked us not to embellish, just make them talk)

'Ouch.'
'I'm glad it hurt.'
'Come on, you know you don't mind sharing with me. Most girls I know would love to split a meal with me.'
'Well, I'm not one of them.'
'Serious?' 
Lisa stared.
'You are serious? Wow! Anyway, I know something you don't and you're going to have to be nice to me so that I tell you what it is.'
'You don't know shit.'
'Go girl.  I didn't even know you knew how to swear.'
'Well, I do.'
'So, I guess I'll be going then.  You don't want to know what I know. Right?'
'Right.'
'Okay then.'
'Okay.'
He started to walk away, but then stopped and turned back to face her. 'Fine, I'll tell you already. I'm in love with you.'
Before Lisa could react his lips were on hers.  That completely threw her off.

I did not get the chance to carry on with the exercise since I had my next one to one with an agent... but what I managed to do was excellent! Thank you Julie...

Monday, 22 October 2012

One-To-One with CAROLINE HARDMAN

My first one to one session was with Caroline Harman, and I have to say I was really impressed.  She must be a great agent.

Considering this was only 10 minutes... you did not have a lot of time to gush over writing... and she only read the first 3000 words.

Overall, I was very happy.  She thought my writing had real potential.  She gave me a few tips and thought I should tweak my dialogue slightly... other than that no bad views. 

Shocking!

In a way, I wish I had more to say but I don't I was stumped...

Vanessa :) xx

CAROLINE HARDMAN has now founded...

Hardman & Swainson



Nice website... http://www.hardmanswainson.com/about.html

Before founding Hardman & Swainson I was an agent at the Christopher Little Literary Agency and The Marsh Agency, where I also specialized in translation rights. I have an excellent understanding of global trade publishing and have had the honour of selling rights on behalf of bestselling and prize-winning authors such as Kate Atkinson, Iain Banks, Bill Bryson, Linwood Barclay, Meg Cabot, Vikram Seth, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Jonathan Lethem.  Before The Marsh Agency, I was a bookseller for Waterstones for a short time following university. I have a 1st class BA and an MA in English Literature from the University of Leeds.

Nothing excites me more than discovering new talent. I'm interested in accessible literary fiction, from dark, moving and emotional novels to warm and cozy – great writing in all its guises, but nothing too rarefied. I'm also interested in quality commercial fiction, particularly the elusive book group novel, upmarket women's fiction and I'm on the lookout for crime and thrillers – I'd love to find the next Sophie Hannah. Whether it's literary or genre fiction, I look for strong writing, great characterization and originality. I like to be challenged, surprised, moved to tears or on the edge of my seat by the novels I read.

As I grew up reading Sweet Valley High, Judy Blume, and the Point Horror books (not to mention adult novels with mass-market appeal like Virginia Andrews and Maeve Binchy), I enjoy YA and crossover fiction and would like to add more authors in that area to my list.

In non-fiction, I enjoy memoirs (particularly confessional memoirs by women), and well-written, subject-driven, narrative non-fiction in general. I'm always looking for popular science, philosophy and psychology, particularly when written by experts in their field. As a health and yoga fanatic, I'm also interested in any books with an emphasis on food, health, the mind and the body.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Creating Tension with Claire McGowan

AN EXCELLENT LECTURE/ WORKSHOP ON CREATING TENSION... hope you find these notes helpful.  I certainly did...

Vanessa :)

The Art of Suspense...
  • to hang
  • to be in abeyance
  • a state of mental instability
1) WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Suspense is about waiting...

* The Secret Keeper - the character, not the reader, knows...
* The locked room puzzle

a)

  • traumatised narrators
  • Unreliable narrators (The taming of the shrew)
  • young narrators (The Curious incident of the dog in the night time)


Consider... Tokyo, Room, Every vow you break...

Also, take into account 1st/ 3rd person variants


The "There or Not?" & "When and Where?"
b) Hercule Poirot's Christmas


2) WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
a) 

  • Jeopardy
  • Loss
  • High stakes
  • Posing big questions


E.g. Jurassic Park, One Day
b)
  • Reader knows, character doesn't 
  • race against time
  • race over distance
  • the killer speaks

3) CLIMAX
  • Start with the setting (opening scene, chracter introductions)
  • Set up (initiating event)
  • Rising Action (Conflict, sub-climaxes, turning points, attempt)
  • CLIMAX
  • Falling action
  • Resolution
4) TOOLS
  • PROLOGUE
  • OPENING PAGES
  • CUTTING BETWEEN STORYLINES
  • TWISTS
  • USE KEY WORDS - "Blood", "death", "body"
  • CLIFFHANGERS
  • CHANGE BETWEEN POV'S OR CHARACTERS
  • PACING
  • ESCALATION (layers ... think Jurassic Park)
  • PACING
  • ESCALATION
  • CONFLICT
  • DILEMNA'S
  • HURT YOUR CHARACTERS
  • USE OF DIALOGUE TO CREATE "DRAMA"
  • ACTION/ SITUATION - Is it necessary?
BUT THE MOST USEFUL...
  • CHARACTERISATION - Give them something to lose...
***CAVEAT***

The Art of withholding something forever...

E.g. The Little Friend, Something Might happen, Int the woods, The Little Stranger

5) BOOK LIST
  • A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Every Vow You Break by Julie Crouch
  • Relentless by Simon Kernick
  • Killing Floor by Lee Child
6) EXERCISE

The story starts with...

It was a Monday when I decided to kill Mary...

...continue - you have 1 minute!

This is what I wrote...

It was a Monday when I decided to kill Mary because I was tired.  I was tired of Mary. I don't feel bad about it. She deserved it. What I did wonder was whether I could have dealt with the body another way.  I was foolish and naive.  It should have been another way.

Women's Fiction

On Saturday I attended a workshop on women's fiction, chaired by Julia Crouch, Talli Roland (a very nice author I have met the previous day who moved from traditional publishing to self publishing...) and Julie Cohen.

It was lovely to meet all of them and we generally discussed the genre and they gave their perspective on the market trends.

Talli laughed at the fact some readers complain her books always have happy endings... "I like happy endings" is her reply.

Unfortunately, I had my first one to one so I have to shoot off... You can imagine that I was nervous...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Saturday - Jojo Moyes Key address

I have to say that I was very excited about meeting Jojo Moyes.  I had just read Me Before You and thought it was amazing...if extremely sad at the end.

Jojo was an incredible speaker... inspiring really. 

She told us how she had toiled over the years to find a publisher.  She wrote four books that were not up to the right standard (when asked she said she would not publish them now anyway...they weren't good enough - I am on the fence about this, I bet they were).  She had an agent and they did push for publication but it was only with the fifth they got lucky.

Eight books later things did not seem to be going so well... so she wrote Me Before You and moved with Penguin books.  No-one thought the book would be a hit, but it was a HUGE success and she was back in the game.  Apparently, if supermarkets agree to have your books you are back in the running.  The Richard & Judy show also selected it, so again it all helps.

She explained how difficult it is to get motivated when you are convinced your book is no good, she talked of the dip moment... we all know this as writers, right? The this is rubbish moment... lol and how you have to see through the hump, perservere and finish.  How many of you start to write a book but don't finish? You got to see it through to the end.

Another tip was something called "The Kick the Dog Test"

If you saw someone kicking a dog what would you do? Visualise different characters, give them a reaction, build a picture of them in your heads.  Its a start.

What do your characters do when put in extreme circumstances?

What? Who? Tastes?  Use all the senses... BRAINSTORM

Also, don't describe something that can be kept simple... (give readers some credit...lol)

After the talk there were a few questions and then we had a break.

I managed to catch Jojo later on and bought her new book, The girl who was left behind, which she signed - so chuffed! I loved this and have reviewed it on my blog, A Readers Perspective (http://vanessawester.blogspot.com)

She also took the time to explain the ending to Me Before You which had left me slightly unsatisfied.  I won't say what she said... I still have to review it... but it was great to understand.

A brilliant author that made the weekend extra special...

Friday - Literary Night Live

Sorry for the delay with the next posts but I have been exceptionally busy recently editing my second book.  It is now away with readers so time will tell what the intial feedback will be like.

Anyway, Friday was "Literary Night Live" - I managed to sit with a group of lovely people and was very lucky to be in great company.

The premise of the evening was to hear 500 words from each selected entrants.  Then a panel of three judges gave their opinion and at the end the audience voted by a show of hands.

I met Anne Corlett that night, a fantastic writer and great friend on the entire weekend.  I hope we keep in touch.  She was one of the lucky few to get her writing selected.  She had to read it out loud in front of the entire gathering.  She was very brave and did a great job.  She did not win but it was a very tight contest and she did herself proud.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for her to find an agent...

It was an enjoyable night but I do admit that the agents and publishers were not all around.  Perhaps they'd had enough already!  I did get chatting to a very nice publisher and an agent Sallyanne Sweeney (Watson, Little Ltd.), whose picture I had seen before.

I did not get drunk - sorry! No stories of debauchery I'm afraid... lol!

I went back to my room and felt like a student again... four lonely walls!  Strange but, because I could, I read a book until past midnight... no kids! Freedom...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Self Editing Your Novel PART TWO

Okay, I have more notes to add but I wanted to carry on in a new post and explain that there might be some holes in this one. 

We took a coffee break and I "thought" I had an agent one 2 one... You can imagine my stomach felt like it was doing a spin cycle and I really felt ill.  I had been so nervous all day... so I decided not to go to the second half until after my 121.

Of course, in an ideal world I would have got the right time (or more likely pressed the right button on the internet when I booked).  However, me being me I didn't do either.  It was not on Friday it was on Saturday...duh! I know, anyone who knows me will tell you how scatty I am.

So, I slunk back into the lecture will my tail firmly between my legs!  And I believe this was the second half of the notes (I hope Debi corrects me if I get anything wrong).  I hope I do it justice but as you can imagine my head was spinning...

STYLE

If you write in 3rd person you can write either from one POV (point of view) or from a range of POV's, preferably 3 to 4 close ones.

At the moment the current tense that is trending is the presnt tense, but you can write in the past tense. (I like to use a mixture...)

The voice can be either omniscent or that of a character. (I prefer the character option...)

Things to consider:

  • Prose rhythm
  • Sentence structure
  • Voice colouring the perceptions
  • Pace of prose has to change
  • Gradual change from a person's POV
  • Be careful with "head hopping"
  • Control number of characters (oops...I like having a range)
  • Unreliable author... Read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time
  • Restrict Adjectives and adverbs
  • Careful use of dialogue and long winded paragraph's
  • try and pick dictinctive sounds for each character
  • Think - internal, external & surround features (this makes my think of my surround sound system!)
  • Don't describe something that can be simplified
* SHOW DON'T TELL * (Have you all heard this mantra enough times? lol)

I hope this is helpful in some way and look out for my next instalment... a talk by Jo Jo Moyes

thanks for reading
Vanessa :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Self Editing your Novel with Debi Alper PART ONE

Okay, so first workshop.

I didn't really know what to expect so I was glad to have a notepad with me... we were going to do some work!

We were asked to write about a situation between us and someone else that was emotionally charged in first person.  (I think those were her words... but since I don't have exact notes, I'm guessing!  Old age... memory is never as good...lol) 

Might I add that I missed the part about writing it in first person, so wrote it in third...duh!
I enjoyed it...lol!

We had ten 10 minutes...



After we stopped, Debi made us spend another ten minutes writing the excerpt again from the other person's POV.  This time I wrote in first person.  Another ten minutes...

I have included both attempts at the bottom of this post. 

Personally, I prefer the first but I'd be interested to hear what you think.  I'm not sure either are any good, but for ten minutes... there is not a lot more you can expect.  Anyway, the point of it was to try to get into the other characters head. 

According to Debi I was the compassionate type since I did actually feel for my sister and could relate better to her than to myself!


The point Debi made was that different perceptions, characters and roles are important.  You need to see things from their eyes to make the plot work better.  She was planning to expand on this idea on another workshop (unfortunately I did not attend that one on the next day...)

We did consider the following:

1) Structure

Introduce the main character.  Create some form of instability.  Ask yourself, does the writing grab you?  Resist the urge to info dump... don't try to tie up all the knots! (this linked in well with Harry bingham's workshop on "the Art of the Pause..." - more on that later)

A linear narrative is not always the most effective.  E.g. The Night Circus, Water For Elephants, the Time Travellors Wife

2) Plot

What happens?  What do they want?  What do they do to get it?
Make 3D characters...
Move the story forward... narrative drive.
Be careful with the use of subplots.  Think about your underlying theme...

3) Pace

Start on a high, has to be an outcome of their character...

Debi quoted, Chandler... When you can't think what happens next, bring in a man with a gun...
and Chekhov... If there's a gun on the wall in Act 1, it must be fired in Act 3.

If you have coincidences, explain and justify.  Even the most plausible ones look wrong once they are written down.

3) Character

* SHOW don't TELL
* Add more and more layers to a person gradually (this made me think of Shrek and his layers..."I'm an onion not a parfait!")
* "Vivid" writing - explain...
*  Revision... (don't I know this one)

4) Market

Can you sum up your plot in a single paragraph?  Or in a single sentence?

Personally, I hate this challenge...although I did come up with a one line description for HYBRID...

One man's journey of discovery.  (I used it in a tweet! lol!)


THERE IS NOT A LOT OF MONEY TO BE MADE IN PUBLISHING A BOOK
(unless you are EL James... sorry, bad joke!)

* A two book deal would raise approx. £30,000, spread over 5 years. 
* On average most authors earn £6-7000 P.A. 
* Write for the love, not the money...

After hearing all of this I was so glad I self published... what chance did I have!!!

Here is what I wrote... more tomorrow :)

FIRST POV

The whole week could have been summarised as one disaster after another.  Even though Amber was her sister, there were some things she found hard to forgive.  In that moment there was absolutely nothing Amber could say to make Becca feel better.

Nothing at all.

Becca’s hands shook as anger surged throughout her body.  Who did her sister think she was?  Why did she think she could say those things and get away with it?  But, more importantly what could Becca say that would not hurt Amber.

The problem remained; she did not care if she did hurt Amber.

‘Amber, drop it.  Please, just stop telling me what to do.’  Becca’s voice trembled, it betrayed her emotion.

‘Becca, I am not going to drop it.  You know that if you  had done what I said, everything would be fine.’  Her glossy, brown curls bounced off the side of her face.  Her eyes set, determined.

Unfortunately, Becca was just as stubborn.  ‘Let’s not talk about it.  Just walk faster and we’ll get the bus in time.’

Becca increased her pace and rounded the corner first.

The bus was already at the stop and poised to go.  Hurt and wounded, Becca had lost the urge to run.  She was surprised to see Amber make a run for it.  Becca did not know she had it in her.

As Amber got to the stop, the bus eased away.

Becca gawped as amber pelted the door and hurled abuse at the driver.  She made her way over full of dread.


SECOND POV - THE OTHER PERSON
I can’t believe it.  My youngest sister, the girl I practically raised, my little girl, has the audacity to argue with me, to say no to me.  She would not dare.  She just can't.  She has no idea how lucky she is.  She has it all.

‘Becca, I am not going to drop it.  You know that if you had done what I said, everything would be fine.’

I turned to face her.  Too right it would have.  I mean, is it that hard to turn right when I say right?  Does everything always have to be so negative?  I like to think I’ve always been upbeat.  Life is a gift.  But all she does is moan and whinge and act like, well, a brat.

Becca looked slightly deflated.  Her shoulders drooped and her eyes had lost their shine.  ‘Let’s not talk about it.  Just walk faster and we’ll get the bus in time.’

Like that was it.

Fine.

No talking.

As we rounded the corner the bus sat waiting.  I needed to get on that bus.  The thought of having to wait in silence for twenty minutes killed me.  I threw caution to the wind and raced to the stop, glad for once I wore sensible shoes.

I stopped by the bus and waited for the doors to open.  Instead, the driver made to leave.  Incensed I banged on the door, ‘let me in.’

I didn’t care about my sister, I needed to get in.

The bus continued.

I banged on the door harder and could not help but swear as the bus bus eased off.

Silence it was.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Journey and arrival...

Well, it is over a week since I returned from the Festival of Writing (I can't believe it) and my aim to write about my experience was obviously optimistic.  When will I get the time?  So, I will post gradually... please bear with me.

I arrived at Manchester Airport on the Thursday night.  I managed to get confused on arrival so walked outside the arrivals terminal until I figured out what I had to do to get to the Travelodge.  Eventually, I managed to get the transfer coach with a lovely couple on their way to Tenerif.  Festival or Tenerif ?  Tough call...

Anyway, I got chatting (as you do) and told them I was a writer.  I figured I might as well put myself out there.  As expected the Fifty Shades question came up - are you that kind of writer?  When I said no they both pursed their lips as the husband vowed they would never read that rubbish.  I'm not sure his wife was that sure...lol

At my room, alone, it was so strange.  An empty room with no kids stuff or memorabilia.  so, I got my P.J.'s on and flicked channels... I ended up watching the documentary by "the businesswoman from up North" - can't remember her name, the one from Dragon's Den.  It was excellent.  But, I was one of the women she was talking about.  A woman with a degree who choose not to go back to "work" when I had kids... a wasted resourse.  I'm not sure all the voluntary organisations I have helped would agree!  Anyway, I was glad I choose to put my skills to writing, I am doing something creative now at least!

I read a book and got ready for the next day.  Could I sleep?  Not really.  Did I wake up early?  YES.  Damn, why is it that when I have no kids waking me up in the morning I always wake up...ugh...

Anyway, I read a book in bed and waited for seven.  After a shower I went down for breakfast (very nice and peaceful...bliss) and then returned to my room to read.  BTW, I was reading a book by PC Cast from the library - nothing to rave about.  Eventually, I set off for the train station and made my way over to York by train...

York is beautiful, it really is.  I wish I'd had time to sightsee.  It was a shame to be indoors for an entire weekend of sun.  Oh well...

Once I had arrived I got chatting to a range of very nice writers... they were ALL really nice!  and got my room key, etc.  I was impressed by the organisation.  Very smooth.  Room was nicely equiped and did the job.  It did make me have a deja vu moment... to be a student again!

Bits and pieces ready, I made my way over to my first workshop... Self Editing your novel by Debi Alper!

I will write about it tomorrow...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Welcome

Welcome to my blog on the Festival of Writing, York, 2012.

I will go through my notes over the next few weeks and hopefully post helpful advice and feedback I received as well as give you a flavour of what it was all about.  It was an excellent experience and it has given me that boost that I needed to see my first Trilogy (yep it's no longer a series) to its fruition.

Thanks for the visit
Vanessa :) xx