#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.

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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?

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#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?

Revising with Rebecca Bradley

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Today, I am over on Rebecca Bradley’s blog discussing my revision process – discover what state my NaNo novel is in right now and what I’m currently drinking!

A couple of years ago, I shared my first draft process, so it was great to be able to explain my next stage. Writing down exactly how I write is quite eye-opening. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone shares my methods!

#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?