Tuesday, 24 December 2013

And Now For Something Completely Light-Hearted

This will be the last post of the year, but that’s okay, I took some time off, got back on the horse and did well; and I’m sure all of you out there can say the same thing too about something or other this year. Today I don’t offer you advice, I’m not going to burden you with motivational speeches (not today anyway, pour yourself a drink, you’ve earned one). I just want to say happy holidays; because after all the beer, wine and tea has been drunk, the pork, beef and sprouts tucked away, presents unwrapped and crackers pulled; it will be time to get back on the treadmill and punch out that next achievement.
So, a gift from me to you, for following me so well and for just being you this year.

The crackers are there, we haven’t pulled them yet.
The presents all wrapped, out of sight.
The snowflakes are waiting, until the lights are out.
The world is cheering, but what about?

I’ve closed all the curtains, I’ve turned out the lights,
Cookies on the mantle, carrots in the chimney light.
I’m all tucked up in bed, I can’t see the stars,
But that doesn’t mean I’m not trying my hardest.
Like hell I’m asleep, I simply can’t wait. Night
Hasn’t fallen, and of course I’m still awake.

The family is calling; the presents all shout.
No cookies on the mantle. No carrot outlived the night.
There’s no more waiting and the end between us-
By the end of the day, I’ll be all tuckered out.

Not my best, but I think I’ve captured the mood, until the New Year, happy holidays. If you want to contact me before my next instalment:


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Show Me a Story, Don’t Tell Me, a Much More Technical Approach

As Promised last time, today I am actually going to give writing advice, (yes batten down the hatches and close those blinkers). A newbie giving advice is not exactly a popular idea, but who better to guide the next latest release than the current, right? I’m intending to talk you through the whole process of how to write a story anyone interested in your genre would go wild to read, that is, one aspect that will aid you in this purpose.
So, let’s get theoretical, which makes more sense than starting with practical examples. A story, as with life is made up of a series of actions, you are born, you live, and you one day in the distant future die; three transitive acts in succession. Another example, meeting someone for the first time. You get to know each other by sharing a few facts, this would be the ‘tell’; but if you start ‘telling’ everything straight away, they are going to be put off you pretty quickly as I have learned.
So, rather than saying; I’m Joseph, I practice martial arts, I write and I have a rather avid fear of riding horses; I will spend time with people, let them watch me practice, show them my uniform, show them my books (and watch them scoff) and if I’m adventurous try to get on a horse let them see me unseated for the umpteenth time. The whole point of these examples is, telling someone these things tells them something, letting them see it can be done with words.
Two tips in avoiding ‘the tell’: Avoid the verb ‘to be’ guaranteed that 90% of the instances of ‘I am’ he/she is’ etc. are instances of telling the situation.
Instead I offer this comparison – ‘He was angry’, ‘His brow furrows as a dark look crossed his face’ a purple vein began to throb on his forehead. I knew I had said the wrong thing’. Note I have used the taboo verb in this sentence, but only as a re-affirmation of the situation, emphasis only.
Second tip for the day: adverbs are not your friend. This may seem woefully vague but I believe it was Stephen King who wrote this before me that they are just clutter to your word count: ‘He ran quickly’ could be written more dynamically as, ‘his feet became a blur as he launched himself down the path’. Simple but I know which I would prefer to read.
Technically these two rules, are a good starting point for anyone who is moving up from nowhere to somewhere should start with, all in the aim of taking the reader by the hand and letting them delicately tread into the world you have created.
Until next time, practice, experience and procrastinate, as writing needs a little of all three.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Stop talking about it, write it!

It has come to my attention since the wonderful news of being taken on by Nocturnal Press that I have been surrounded by what I would like to kindly call ‘lifelong procrastinators’. I do not mean that these people are lazy, though some are (you know who you are) but what I would like to say is that though we all have a book inside us; we choose not to write it because we basically tell ourselves we just are not able to write one. Today I’m telling you all to shut up about wanting to write and make one day, today.
When I began this journey over thirteen years ago, I did not once tell myself I cannot do this, it is something I have learned from others telling me ‘you cannot do it’. Well I did, and you can do it too. We all have a hurdle to overcome and this one of writing is no higher than any other; admittedly I can give you several reasons why my hurdle was higher for my rather stout legs than yours, but there is no higher hurdle there is just high, have you jumped it yet?
My experience was probably not ideal to break into this tough and life-changing business, which existed in some shape or form before the written word, and in my view will never die out. I began by discovering poetry and novels. Though naturally adept to poetry and its formal forms I tackled what Jackie Kay puts as the hardest experience in one’s life, full of self-doubt, anxiety, depression, frustration – you get the idea. Today I am still working on that novel, hopefully one day it’ll be on your shelves.
But now, I poured my experiences and my obsessions into my latest book ‘Mr Locke’s Diary’ (Out in February 2014) and I hit gold. It takes lending your soul to the page, or to whatever else you want to achieve creatively, and not giving up at the first hurdle. This was certainly one of my harder short stories, due to tone, register and research involved in localizing it, but it was worth it, I can see myself before I finish a page and for an instant I fall in love – this is before I realise I’m supposed to be editing.
This I know is not much in the way of technical help, but those will follow. I have a few ideas including my next post ‘show me a story, don’t tell me’, a much more technical approach and so on. A writer is born to serve the people; whether it is with a story to teach the next generation or to fight political injustice and I intend to serve. Until next time, read, love, live.

 Ciao