Jan 21st

On... writing...?

By EzBloke
Curiously... devoid of smut, this one. Dissapointed? I know, so am I. I'll still swear though; can't be doing with all that clean language at my age. Fuck it. Today I shall astound you with the wonderful world of EzWriting… Some of you have read the first draft of Paradise Falls, my Hopeless Opus. For those of you that have been saved this misfortune I can say it is without doubt the worst tosh I have ever had the misfortune to have set eyes on – and I’ve read all the Dan Brown novels, so there’s a yardstick to beat me mercilessly over the head with. Now, I don’t necessarily revel in the rubbish I have written, but I am a gloatingly smug kind of person, especially when you realise that it is finished. It’s complete crap, but it is finished. I have the words “The End”, appropriately enough, at the end, and prior to that there are some one hundred thousands words; some are real, some are imaginary and most are found in what can be considered “sentences” by any six year old. This is important for many reasons; one, I never finish anythi (See what I did there? Chuckle.) Ahhh, anyway… So I have a “complete” collection of words. Do you notice the care I am taking with collective nouns? I shall endeavour to refrain from calling it a “novel” because that has a tendency to romanticise the scrap paper it is currently printed on. And, some of you are aware that I have been systematically reading, editing and refining those words for at least a year now. My current exercise is, because PF is written entirely in the first person perspective, to write every single scene from the perspective of every single character in it and then to merge those together. To achieve this I have employed the use of a little (free) program called YWriter5. This expects you to either, in your original Word document, delineate scenes by special characters (which I have not) or to cut and paste every single “scene” (which I am doing). The truth is, reading tripe created by mine own hand is bad enough, but having then to analyse it too, is a nightmare. But it is absolutely amazing what you learn from it. I have learned, for instance that I have the attention span of a gnat. I’m in a deeply moving, serious and important scene and then bam! I’m off flying over rubblised fortresses and poking chicken spits in people’s arse’s. I have whole scenes that consist of two fat blokes running after another bloke, lasts for three (granted tortuously long) sentences and then terminates. And I don’t do this once, oh no, the whole bloody manuscript is full of the sodding stuff. I have more scenes than the whole Lord of The Rings Trilogy put together. Throw in the soon to be released “The Hobbit” and hey presto! I’ll still have more bloody scenes. So the culling begins… and this is where it gets interesting; if my whole writing premise is to make you buggers laugh, then where’s the snigger when an old fella dies of fright? With a metaphorical wave of the inky wand, ‘tis gone and with it, about seven hundred words that set it up, pad it out and warm it’s jets. Nice. Character list is now down one old fella and I’m off and running again. YWriter5 (and this is not an advert, I promise) also wants characters, locations, objects and plots listed against scenes too. It is with this toolset (still to be done, sadly) that I shall reduce my mountainous pile of locales, my scrofulous pile of characters and curiously my complex box set of plots. I won’t say interwoven neatly into the novel. It’s more, thrown in with gay abandon and left to fester where they fall. Sigh. So that’s what I’ve been doing these past weeks… what about you? How have you been? Ez
Jan 18th

The Fear

By Eshka
I feel rather peculiar as I write this. Having joined this forum, I have now labelled myself as a writer; until now, I've always thought of that label as something I had to earn. However, a change of tack is sometimes necessary in order to make progress, and seeing as my progress hasn't stretched past three paragraphs flung onto a screen, that is exactly what the doctor ordered. So yes...I am no longer struggling to become a writer - I AM a writer.

This new perspective brings with it a disconcerting fact. In declaring myself a writer, I'm taking it upon myself to share what I write with other people. This is where the fear comes in, and even now I can see it waiting in the wings ready to pounce. To me, letting another person read something that I have written makes me feel like a timid child that has been shoved onto a stage and ordered to perform.

Doing this - joining this site as though I was announcing to myself, ''You'll do this whether you like it or not, it's for your own good, woman!'' - put me in mind of being about seven years old at the swimming pool.
We had our Physical Education class there, and as someone who is still terrified of water, I was pale green with nerves. We had to line up by the side of the pool, and when the teacher tapped your shoulder, you had to jump in. I could just about cope with edging myself down the steps, so as I stood there looking down into the water all I could think was, ''There is no bottom, oh god there's no bottom, I'm not coming back up again''. I managed to wriggle my way out of doing it by begging and pleading the teacher not to make me jump; but somehow this is different. As the cliché goes, I'm going to feel the fear and do it anyway. And in this instance, I hope there is no bottom now that I have jumped in - I want it to be infinite, that way there is always something to learn, always room for improvement and above all, no end to my inspiration.
Jan 9th

A hard descision

By Josh
Hi everyone, I just thought I'd let you know what's been going on latley. Well, for the past two years I have been planning a series of novels that I want to get published. I have alot of faith in my work and so far, the people that have read extracts or all of it say the work is great! However, I am in year eleven and with exams getting closer I barely have any spare time in which to write. It got me thinking, am I really going to be able to go through the entire of sixth form and have time to write. I am considering to leave school and focus more on my work. Any thoughts about what I could do?
Jan 6th

Random Links

By Barb
I'm still shopping heartily in the middle of South East Asia and won't be back in the tartan wonderland until the weekend, but I have drawn myself away from haggling to try and catch up on some of my internet reading. What I have seen so far has been inspiring - here's a few links:

Lynn Viehl on how the critics can get it wrong.

A bit of a different contest from Nathan Bransford for entires that are an extract from a teen's diary, up to 500 words. But get in quick because it closes today.

Some top 10 lists from Query Tracker - for the US market, but some very interesting reading.
Dec 17th

Chewing the cud on writting a book

By claraw
It is quite common for people  to think writers don´t work hard enough, because all they do is write; and that anyone with a college degree, or even a high school certification can do it, no matter about the text nor story quality.
Indeed, writers can be both by the publishing business or by people who are not trully aware of the nature of writting, quite underestimated, which is to say, at least, odd.

Part of it is true: anyone can write.But I must say I feel like clarifying a few aspects.

It is certaintly not as simple as anyone would think. Especially when you are writting a book, and here follows a few personal insights on the matter, which I hope you will all discuss with me later:

First: Your first scratches will never be what you hope. Thus a writer can be easily compared to a carver, taking a block and transforming it into a statue. It takes loads of revisions for us to reach the desired point of our stories.

Second: Timing. I don´t know if any of you noticed, but every story has to have a good timing. If you put too much text or the wrong information in the wrong parts,for example, the reader will get easily bored.That sincrony is, in my opinion, the worst part, being such a detailist writer as myself, it is quite difficult.

Third: Always keep the readers attention. You must make him want to read the next chapter, which is also not as easy as one would imagine.People dont like loads of description  yet you have to let them aware of the world and context of what´s happening (which is very important with fantasy or historical books) as well as the character´s trade marks.Aligning always with the second element mentioned above.

Fourth: Words are powerful things. If wrongfully induced in a sentence, they can ruin the whole intention of "messages in between the lines".

Fifth: A writer does not have a time of peace, meaning he is a constant workaholic. He or she cannot write for 8 hours, and then think:" ok, done for the day, will do other stuff." The thing is, when you do other stuff, you start having ideas for the book, and I do believe Murphy has one or two fingers on this, because most of the bright ideas will come to you during your body pump class. Which is quite frustrating sometimes, and that is why you see many writers who suddenly start scribbling in restaurant napkins and such.

Sixth: A book is a complex thing. The writer is the master of everything that happens, everyone that enters the story,the way they react and feel,as well as when, where and why it all happens, we control their speeches, their manners. Think of a highly, really complicated SIMs.You see, we start from blank pages into 500 pages best selling (with luck!)stories. And everything has to connect with everything on the book, it´s like an orchestra, and the book, is a song. It must be played flawlessly. Need I rememeber that there are many people in an orchestra, but only one author (usually) of a book?

I believe these 6 reasons are enough to make anyone think twice, before saying a writer´s task is easy, or even underestimating it.

It is though, a very enjoyable work. We give our blood and sweat to the stories, our projects.We research for them, we read for them, we work for them. Sometimes, one can say they become our masters, and not the oher way arround.But still, we do it, loving every minute of it. And that is the true, vicious nature of writting, when your story has you.

A journalist one said to my mother he was a mercenary pen (something that can definetly make you to stop and think. It is quite a harsh statement).

I say I am an addicted pen, and that I can say merely upon myself: I am addicted to writting my stories, and some of them do become my masters. Isn´t that vicious? Writting is not such a light work in the end.

In conclusion,  we only hope readers will love it as much as we did (in some sort of masoquism, since I love something that enslaves me. Don´t be scared, I use these harsh words merely to intensify my passion and dedication to writting). And that, my friends, after all our blood and sweat, is the best reward a writer can get.

Cheers!
Dec 14th

Writers Rage Reloaded

By Malcolm

This may not make much sense if you haven't read the previous parts. Then again it doesnt make a lot of sense anyway! ;)



Jane Titantits managed to get the shower door open far enough to reach the button on the intercom. "Scotty, send help. I'm stuck in my shower. The damn thing won't let me out."

 

"Ach, dinna worry yerself, lassie," replied Scotty calmly. "It's just the lengthy, and entirely gratuitous, shower scene. It doesn't advance the plot a jot but it does wonders for the box office."

 

"But I'm starting to wrinkle!"

 

"Well try soaping yourself down then washing one thigh in a lingering and sultry sort of way. It won't actually get you any cleaner but it might give them what they need to wrap the scene."

 

"How did I get stuck in a movie scene anyway? I though this was about proper writers issues!" (The author dons his own steel helmet at this point. Hey, blame Jane not me. I'm just writing the material my characters give me!).

 

"I can't say," said Scotty having dropped his silly Scottish accent. "I suspect it has something to do with movie options though."

 

"Has anyone found my uniform buttons? I did manage to steal most of my underwear back from Taarg."

 

Suddenly the shower turned itself off and the door sprang open.

 

"Thank god," said Jane with feeling.

 

Meanwhile on the bridge Spark was, in his calm manner, calmly reporting to Dirk about their latest mission.

 

"Starfleet advise there is a spatial anomaly in the sector, Captain."

 

Dirk took the news calmly. "What sort of anomaly?"

 

"It’s a repetition anomaly of some kind. I wonder what kind of repetition it causes?" reflected Spark calmly.

 

Dirk reflected calmly on the news his First Officer had delivered. "I have no idea but we better stay calm. No need to panic yet."

 

"Actually," corrected Taarg. "I believe there is. Jane has escaped from her shower and she is on her way here. She doesn't look calm at all."

 

"Calm!" growled Jane entering the bridge. "I'll give you bloody calm! Alright which one of you bastards hired that damn film crew?"

 

"Hmmm," reflected Dirk calmly." I think using you as the movie hook may have been a mistake. I never realised how wrinkly you are."

 

Luckily Taarg already had his phaser set on stun or he would never have been able to stop her from ripping the Captain to shreds.

Dec 11th

2010 - The Year of the Query

By Barb
There's actually something worse that discovering that you've been doing it all wrong. That is becoming hyper-critical of your work. I have spent the last six months being told that we're good to go, but refusing to send anything off as I don't think it's perfect.

So, in the spirit of setting some sort of resolution, I'm going to be sending out my current WIP next year. It may take me until next December to get into an envelope, but I will do it. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Okay, that gives me 385 days. Divided by 30 chapters is... not a lot. Excuse me, off to chew the edge of the carpet now.
Dec 5th

Be Still My Beating Heart

By Barb
I've had to catch the early train to Glasgow the last few weeks, although it feels closer to the middle of the night. It's just not right getting into the office while it's still dark - but I digress, we're here to talk about something else. Writing, I think it was.

This enforced sitting on a train while drinking tea has allowed me to develop a new story. The characters are all here and jockeying for attention, the title came to me and the pieces I have been writing have flowed like a dream.

I refuse to lug my laptop to work and back, so I have been writing these bits of book on the back of dockets, the margins of newspaper pages, the inside of sweetie wrappers... well, you get the idea. Each night I have been adding them to a nicely growing stack on the dining room table.

I have my good friend, Saucy staying with me at the moment. While I was out shopping this morning she did a much welcomed tidy of the flat, leaving the place looking a tortured artist's residence, rather than just a tortured residence.

My bits of book were gone from the end of the table.

I may have given a wee sob at this point.

Then Saucy came and showed me where she had put them away, thinking they might be important.

Updated to add a pic of Saucy:
 
Dec 4th

Software

By Audrey


Good morning everyone :)

Following on from yesterday's question, and Mike's answer about using internal bookmarks... what are your absolute favorite tools for writing?  

I have four that I use, depending on what I am writing.

1. A really good pen and a fresh pad of paper.   Maybe that shows my age, but there are some times when just seeing the handwritten words appearing on the page which is very encouraging and, I think, inspires me to write a different kind of story.  

2. For non-fiction, I generally use MadCap Flare.   

3. For fiction, I use Power Structure.   

4. Finally, I just recently discovered Write-or-Die, a nifty, goading website that keeps me writing at the desired pace.   I used it to get through NaNoWriMo and plan to continue using it as it does seem to help me produce a quite different kind of story.

I know that there are countless other tools, from Q10 to Word.   Which one is your favorite?

Dec 3rd

Personal punctuation / Research & writing

By Audrey

Hi all,


Today's question is... have you created any non-standard punctuation that you use to help the writing process?  If you do, what are they and what do they mean/how do you use them?



For example, when I am writing, I will often use [--].   This is a multi-purpose symbol for me.    It can signify that I've skipped over a particular scene or bit of scene which I will need to address  later (for example, if I'm not sure how to finish a scene or, alternatively, if I've had an idea mid-scene for another scene and wanted to work on that while it was fresh in my mind.) or it can mean that there's a detail that I will need to check later, for example [-confirm Chadwick was there -]  



I find this handy, as I can use search functions for "[-" to jump between each of these items.    I was wondering if anyone else uses similar strategies?   The reason the question occurred to me is that I wanted to ask and see how others combine their research and writing tasks/time.    Do you generally write what you mean to say first, and then go research the supporting details?  Do you research as you write (I did try that, it's what I now call procrastination!).   Finally, do you research a topic completely, gathering all of the information you need before you even start writing?




Just curious ;)