Another fiction archive.

I’ve signed up to this morning. Not much time to do anything with it. The free service allows a maximum of 10 items in the portfolio. With Elfwood it is 35. For $19.99(US) a year I can upgrade that to 50. For the time being I’m going to stick with 10 and see how things go on there. I will, of course, post the link as soon as the page is up and running.

And as Halloween is tomorrow, let me give a final plug to “Evil begets Evil” and “Tartarus”.


Quite simply, don’t be afraid to do it.

Sometimes you just reach a dead end with a character or a plot thread and there is nowhere else to go. In that case, don’t try to flog a dead horse but don’t despair. Try a different route. Go back to a point where you felt things started to go wrong and cut out everything after that point.

We call this “murdering your darlings”. If we have come to the end of the line with a certain thread, we have to let it go. Like putting an old, sick pet out of its misery or ending a relationship that has clearly reached the end of the line.

That is what I’ve decided to do with this ghost story. I think the fatal flaw is probably that the Abbot could also see the man. Perhaps if it was only the monk, then there is better scope to develop the story. Hopefully, better luck with this thread.

Setting a target

I didn’t actually get any writing done this weekend, mostly because the weather was better than expected and we were out for a good portion of it.

But here starts a new week and a new month is just a week away. November is the month I usually do most of my Christmas preparation and shopping so I am setting myself a target to get the 4 year old Christmas ghost story completed before the end of November so that it will get through the Elfwood ticketing system early in the month.

Ideally, I would like to get it finished before the first of our planned Christmas festivals on the 20th. I will of course keep this blog updated on my progress.

So basically here is the premise: The year is 1345, the place is Tintern Abbey and it is the early hours of Christmas Eve. A young monk is woken just after midnight by a voice calling his name. He follows the voice to the Abbey Church and sees a man asleep in the transcept. The Abbot has also heard the voice. They have no idea who he is or how he got into the secure precinct of the Abbey but what is clear is that they are the only two that can see him.

I have played with many ideas in the last couple of years and I’m hoping I finally have it.

Second post of the day – some writing advice on characterisation

For long term projects such as novels, I have always found it a good idea to set up a mock interview to develop your characters. It always helps to flesh them out beyond words on a page and sometimes asking slightly difficult questions, even completely unrelated to the story, will help you to develop them as a person and shape their direction within the narrative. Basic questions I tend to ask include the obvious:

* What is your name?
* How old are you?
* Where were you born?
* Are you married? Do you have children?
* Where do you live?

We could come up with an endless list of these basic questions but what really helps me to give my characters definition out is asking something a little more intimate and engaging:

* What is your greatest fault?
* What is your greatest virtue?
* What is your happiest childhood memory?
* What is your earliest memory?
* What are your personal feelings toward [insert another character in the book]?
* What did you want to be when you were a child?
* What is your favourite quote/poem/song?

Or something a little more abstract:

* Would you rather be a brick or a house?
* Would you rather be a river or an ocean?
* Do you prefer sunset or sunrise?
* Cats or dogs?

And perhaps even some really penetrating or difficult questions:

* What is the single biggest mistake you have ever made in life?
* What is your proudest achievement?
* Do you have anything in your past you are particularly ashamed of?
* What would be worse than being dead?

Do not merely impose your own views, beliefs and opinions onto this character. In order to truly create a character you must let him or her express his/her own feelings within the context of their personality, even if you might find those opinions to be the complete opposite of what you personally believe or even abhorrent to your own beliefs.

Nor must you restrict yourself to the beginning of character development. The exercise of going back and asking complex or specific questions can sometimes help in a particular tight spot when you are not sure how your character might act in a given situation.

Cold snap on the way

So the weather people tell us we have freezing temperatures on the way. The festive spirit here will really start to kick off soon with Bonfire Night on the doorstep. It is usually after 5th November that I start to feel in the mood for Christmas. Perhaps this early cold snap (or ‘Big Freeze’ as the media like to call the first frost of the season) will inspire me to get into my Christmas ghost story and maybe push it in a more festive direction?

Monday morning after the weekend before

So, I had a weekend at my mum’s and while there I picked up my collection of books on how to write. This might seem a little like painting by numbers for somebody with a complete novel but at the moment I am willing to try anything to get the bug back.

I have a small collection of books on writing advice and techniques so I’m hoping to pick up some tips or rediscover some inspiration or methods I have used in the past.

The books are:
Worlds of Wonder – David Gerrold (a helpful and amusing guide to writing scifi and fantasy)
Word Painting – Rebecca McClanahan (a guide to writing descriptions)
Solutions for Novelists – Sol Stein (advice on editing)

The others escape my memory right now but I have found the above three particularly useful in the past.

My major problem at the moment is moving beyond an opening, finding the inspiration to close a short story. I have had many ideas for an opening, or a key scene, but often struggle to take it in any direction. Any help readers can give would be appreciated on this matter.

Welcome to my blog :oD

So, welcome to my writer’s blog. I know there isn’t much to it at the moment but I hope to expand the facilities of this blog as I become more acquainted with the WordPress software. I’m hoping to use this initially just as a way to get myself writing every day and hopefully later on to get regular commenters talking about writing related problems, helping each other out with ideas and overcoming the worst disease to affect a writer… writer’s block.

At the moment I have several short stories on the boil, several of which have ground to a halt and have been in limbo for several years. One of them I started about three years ago with the hope of finishing it “by Christmas” and several Christmasses have passed since starting it.

So my challenge for now is to finish this as yet untitled short story (which is about Christmas and also features a ghost) by 24/12/10. Watch this space.