Kick-starting the Imagination

Sourdough

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know where I’ve gone wrong – the starter wasn’t active enough (I know just how it feels). Bear with me, though; this does have a correlation of sorts with the writing process. I’m attempting to make sourdough bread and this mini disaster has got me thinking about the similarities between baking and writing. I’m not an experienced or intuitive bread maker and I’ve never made sourdough before.The first thing I need is some ‘starter’. And this is where the comparison with writing comes in. As with sourdough, writing can also benefit from the addition of a starter that we’ve already got on the shelf – in the form of ready-made plot ideas. As I kneaded the dough I mentally listed a selection of plot devices and strategies to kick-start my imagination and help my creative writing. Some are quite specific, others more general, but all these scenarios can be played out in various ways – how you do it is up to you. Continue reading

10 Time Management Tips for Writers

Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re all under time constraints these days – work, partners, kids, parents, exercise, social media; the list goes on – so it pays to be flexible in our approach to how we allocate the precious minutes we do have and grab writing opportunities whenever and wherever they arise. Here’s a short list of time consuming activities that I’ve had a rethink about and turned to my advantage. Continue reading

New Year, New Growth

Gerbera

As I coaxed the Gerbera on my windowsill into bloom for a second time, I thought I should apply some of the same magic to my writing, and the New Year seemed a good time to think about setting some objectives for 2016. I don’t make resolutions that require any sort of denial – they’d be doomed to failure from the start, so Yes, I will still be eating the chocolate and drinking the wine – I’d much rather give myself goals that will enrich my writing life. Early in 2013 I wrote about using the SMART acronym for personal development. It fits well with this aspirational time of year, so I’ll roll it out again. Continue reading

Double Dilemma

Two dilemmas present themselves as I get close to finishing my new novel. The first one was prompted by a song on the radio that gave me an idea for a lovely little connection between an event and a character. The second one was a great plot twist that came to me in a dream. Really. Continue reading

Emotional Roller Coaster

We did a very good exercise at the writing group recently – write a short scene where a character expresses an extreme emotion, such as anger, joy, grief, passion, impatience. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But we’d been instructed to show the emotion, rather than tell it. So “she was frightened” was never going to cut it. We had to create a feeling with words. Continue reading

How Old is Young?

I’ve just finished reading Rosamunde Pilcher’s bestselling novel The Shell Seekers and while I would still recommend this beautifully written saga about family relationships I can’t help feeling that the characters display some very old-fashioned ideas, as if they inhabit a different era to the one portrayed. And here’s why: Continue reading

Credit where it’s due

I’ve been giving a few talks to local writing and book clubs recently and one of the questions that keeps popping up, particularly from aspiring writers, is, ‘How do you deal with the problem of potential plagiarism when you submit your work to agents and publishers/competitions/tutors/writing groups?’

I haven’t got an especially suspicious nature, nor do I think my writing is so ground-breakingly original, artistic and eloquent that someone might want to appropriate it and pass it off as their own, so the idea had never occurred to me. But it’s obviously a worry to a lot of people. Continue reading

Aides Memoires

Prompted by a magazine article about clearing out one’s kitchen cupboards, I decided to conduct a similar inventory on my writing notes, wherever they were lurking. Not having a very reliable memory these days, I jot down ideas and material for my second novel anywhere I happen to be, and that means using anything at my disposal to record my bon mots.

As well as the more obvious notebooks by the bedside, in the living room and in various handbags, I have collections of notes in ‘bits and pieces’ documents on my PC and snippets recorded on my iPhone. But I also scribble handwritten notes and leave them in all manner of strange locations. Here’s where I’ve found little missives so far:

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Short Story Writing

We’ve been doing a lot of work on what makes a satisfying short story at the writing group, and here’s an easily digested summary of what we’ve discussed.

A memorable short story will say something about the human condition, encapsulating one idea succinctly, with each scene building towards a crisis point, followed by a point of realisation or moment of clarity. The issue you address at the start of the story should be the issue that is resolved at the end.

A good short story starts in the middle of the action and as close to the climax as possible. At the end of the story, the main character should be in a better place than at the beginning, enabling them to move forward.

Once you’ve chosen an idea, remember these basic steps: Continue reading

Sagging Middle Syndrome: are you a victim?

We’ve all been there, and I don’t mean that rapidly expanding rear end through far too much sitting and writing (and eating snacks, let’s be honest) and not enough exercise. I mean that space between the opening of our novel and its climax, when we run out of steam.

Continue reading