#ThrowbackThursday – Right hand/left hand

It’s Thursday, which means I’ve looked into the archives of my old blog to bring you something I think might interest you. This week, I’ve been playing around with my new novel, but the beginning isn’t right – I think I’ve started it in the wrong place, and I’m not sure how to fix it. Then I remembered a technique I’ve used in the past that might help. 


 

This is my attempt at a useful post. I’ve moaned about mentioned my tendency towards writers block since this blog was born. And today I thought I’d talk about a method that really helped me with one story in particular. The story Omelette won third place in the inaugural Words with Jam short story competition a couple of years ago, so I feel confident in sharing this method with you. (And is now free to read on WattPad!)

What you do is swap the hand you normally write with!

That’s it. How easy!

This isn’t my invention – I read about it, but I can’t remember where.

The theory behind it is that writing with the wrong hand makes you concentrate much harder on the actual mechanics of forming the words on the page, which leaves your subconscious mind free to be creative.

Try this:

Start with the sentence When I was younger my favourite toy was…

Remember to write it with the wrong hand, and don’t analyse the content – that’s very important: don’t censor yourself!

When I tried it myself, I managed to pull out a long forgotten incident involving my mum, which actually had nothing to do with my favourite toy. It’s a great way to stop writers block in its tracks.

Part of Omelette written normally…
… and with my left/wrong hand

This technique helped me past a particularly difficult part of the story. Don’t be fooled by how neat my writing looks – I remember having to concentrate very hard!

 

Have you tried something like this before? Or even, just now? How did you get on?
 
 

#ThrowbackThursday – You. I. Us is finally here! (And a giveaway)

Today’s Throwback Thursday post come from June 2016, just a few months ago, on the day my latest book was published. Below are details of a Goodreads giveaway that will be running for the next 10 days, so I thought a quick introduction for people who don’t know about it would be a good idea.

Happy birthday You. I. Us., you gorgeous thing!

It feels like I’ve been anticipating this day for a long time – in fact, I signed the contract in April 2015!

Writing these stories was a lot of fun, and completely different from the way I usually write. Because of the short length of each one, I curled up for a week – wrapped in a thick cardigan, because it was winter – and just wrote whatever came into my head. Several stories remain unchanged from those initial sessions, others merged together, a couple were thrown away for being rubbish. A few more – for example, Ode to River and Growing Apart – are autobiographical, which was an interesting experiment.

I want to say a huge thank you to Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius from Vine Leaves Press for all their hard work on this book, for the cover art (still so beautiful!) and for rapping my knuckles every time they saw a semi-colon. I have not completely overcome my semi-colon addiction, but I do consider their usage a little more.

Thank you too, to Kyra Lennon, for reading the first draft of the stories and throwing out the weakest links.

Next week, my blog tour starts. I’ll be answering a question a day, provided by some awesome bloggers. I hope you can join me!

Publication
date
: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)



Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // Kobo // iBooks // Nook



In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the
edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”



And here’s the giveaway. Please share – there are three books to give away, so the more the merrier.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

You. I. Us. by Annalisa Crawford

You. I. Us.

by Annalisa Crawford

Giveaway ends January 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

#ThrowbackThursday – Where’s the Fire?

Happy New Year! I know I’ve posted more Throwback posts than any other recently, but with Christmas and New Year in the way, it just got too busy and confused. I promise that my next post will be a brand new one. In the meantime, here’s one from April 2013 – I recently reworked the WIP in question into a short story (it was originally meant to be a novel) and don’t recall this mishap at all! 

 

“Where’s the fire?”

It’s a phrase that can be used to mean What’s the hurry? of course, but today I’m going to take it literally.

Yesterday my WIP flew from my fingers onto the screen, running free and wild, as I watched my story taking shape… Until the moment one character noted that the fire had taken hold of part of the building and the firemen were retreating and regrouping.

Oops!  house-fire-2015081931-300px

What was the problem? I hadn’t even hinted at a fire in the previous 2165 words, not a plume of smoke, not a smell, not a single person pointing out that the rescue of two trapped people might be hampered by the extensive heat.

How had I missed something so vital? Erm, I don’t know. I was working from handwritten and typewritten versions, trying to merge them into something slightly different, and this fact kind of got missed off. In another part of the story that I’ve already written, a character mentions that even two days later the smell is still lingering, so you’d have thought I’d have remembered that at least! Except, I wrote that part of the story last week, so maybe not.

My choices are to delete what I’ve got and start again, or slide the fire into the scenes I’ve already written. I’m going to go with the second option, mostly because this is a first-and-a-half draft, and I know it will bear no resemblance to the final section anyway. I am in awe of people who edit as they go and have publishable work at the point they move on the next chapter. Me? No…

When I was at school, I loved technical drawing. If anyone has ever done it, you’ll know you start of with a lot of pencil marks and the page looks like a complete mess of unintelligible lines. Then you flourish your 0.5 black liner and slowly, out of the jumble of pencil, comes a shape that makes sense – a 3D box or, more advanced, the floor plans of a house. That’s what my writing is like, a jumbled mess until ta da!!

So, yes, today I will be squeezing a fire into my chapter, and shattering the zen-like calmness my characters have chosen to adopt!

What mistakes have you made when you’ve been writing?
Have you ever made glaring omissions?

#ThrowbackThursday – “So, what do you write?”

Today’s Throwback Thursday post comes from August 2010 (before my first book was published) and – like many of my early posts – didn’t have any comments. In fact, it barely had any readers, which is why I wanted to install this feature – as a writer, it hurts when people don’t read what I’ve written. I don’t necessarily want everyone to like what I’ve written, just to read it. Anyway, here’s the post…

 

“So, what do you write?”

I hate that question.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wander up to random people in the street and say, “I’m a writer, don’t you know?”, but sometimes it comes up in conversation that I like to write. Usually it’s because the question has already been, “What do you do?”, and when I tell people that I work part-time (14 hours per week), they wonder – aloud and incredulously – what I do with the rest of my time. And I feel compelled to tell them that I write.

aj-books-2-300pxThen the question is, “So, what do you write?”

They ask probably because it’s expected, to show an interest, and that’s great. I’m not knocking the question. I’m knocking my reply… which is always, “Er… stories, modern stuff, um… just stuff…. er, I like to have a few murders.”

“So, you write crime?”

“Er, no… it’s…”

I admit that I’m not very articulate for a writer. These poor people turn away at this point, mentally patting my head and saying, “Well, good for you.”

The reason I’m thinking about this question this morning is that last week I wrote the word surreal on this blog [my previous blog] and the more I’ve thought about it, the more that seems to sum up my work. It’s also a word that defies further explanation, so from now on that will be my answer!

Since 2010, I’ve settled on the tag of Contemporary Stories with a Hint of Paranormal. Of course, then I started writing stories that weren’t paranormal. So, I may have to go back to the drawing board again!

 

Do you struggle with this question?

Are you a genre writer? Does that make it easier to explain?

#ThrowbackThursday – Un-Studying Literature

Today’s Throwback Thursday post comes from the 2012 Blogging From A – Z Challenge, an annual blogging challenge that happens in April. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a great way to get out of your blogging comfort zone, and perhaps find some fantastic new bloggers. About now is a great time to think about topics and start to prepare. I don’t take part every year – I haven’t decided about 2017 yet.

About three days into my English Literature A Level, I realised I shouldn’t be on the course, because that was the time I realised literature shouldn’t be studied, it should be enjoyed.

I know… that’s a mind-bending statement, isn’t it? Well, no – not unless you’re an English teacher.

Think about the writers we study:

  • Shakespeare
  • The Brontes
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Charles Dickens
  • Wordsworth

What do all these writers have in common? They were all popular writers. They weren’t writing high literature – that’s the mantel we’ve placed them on. They were writing prose that the common man in the street, at the time they were writing, would find enjoyable. They probably didn’t place too much store on the symbolism and metaphors used. They just wrote, the same way you and I do, telling their story in the most effective way.

What I’d love to say to my English teacher is:

We shouldn’t be doing this. We should be enjoying the books the way they were intended. We should think about the themes, embrace the story, perhaps even consider the moment in history they are portraying. What better way to understand history than through the eyes of people who lived in it – these authors had important things to say about the world they were living in. They don’t deserve to have their prose broken down into blocks of text for 18 year olds to pour over in sticky school halls, extracting every last significance out of every last full stop and semi-colon. Sometimes, Mr English Teacher, Sir, I’m sure they chose to describe the sky as cloudy because it just was, not to foretell something terrible in a hundred pages time!

My English teacher is currently a member of the gym where I work. I could quite easily walk up to him while he’s a captive audience on the rowing machine tomorrow and say all of that to him.

You’ll probably be quite glad to hear I won’t. I’ll leave him to enjoy his workout.

wp_20161212_07_37_39_pro

This is my last post before Christmas, so I’d like to wish you Merry Christmas.

#ThrowbackThursday – Curious Incidents with Mirrors

Because this is a brand new blog, I’ve decided to start a #ThrowbackThursday feature, where I will be re-posting some of my older blog posts from my previous blog. 

How often do you look in the mirror and think: my long blond hair flows over my shoulders, a little straggly at the ends but nothing a good brushing won’t sort out. My eyes are wide and bright and eager, the colour of the sea on a summer’s day. My skin is porcelain, beautifully clear on account of the full skin regime my mother insisted on since I was fifteen; my neck is long and elegant… etc etc

My guess is not often, if ever. So why do authors invent such peculiar ways to describe their characters?

wp_20161214_15_13_39_proAs a writer, I rarely describe what my first person point of view character looks like unless it is vital to the plot. It doesn’t seem important, because as a reader it jars. I’ve been reading Light on Snow by Anita Shreve, which has inspired these thoughts. On the whole the book was enjoyable and seemed only to have the degree of description needed to convey the plot… until she had her twelve year old narrator look at herself in a mirror in a police station staff room and describe what she saw, in much the same awkward way I did at the start of this post. It was unnecessary to the plot at that point and totally jarred with the rest of the scene, which was quite tense and serious.

I much prefer to visualise for myself what the characters look like; I think that the personality is more important. If, for example, my character was very vain, yes I would definitely have her look in every single mirror and describe what she saw – because it would be relevant. If a character was obsessed by another, I’d probably use that to compare every insignificant detail because that’s what the obsessed person would be doing.

Perhaps I should try to describe my characters more fully: I could have people checking out their features in a turned off mobile phone, the concave of a desert spoon, the highly polished surface of a High Def flat screen TV…. oh, the possibilities 🙂

How do you describe your characters? Do you use strange and unique devices? How do you respond when you read something that jars with the rest of the scene?