Archive for the ‘The Write Practice’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

insecurewriterssupportgroup

Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

I have a frightening tale to tell…

For many years, I’ve thought about trying my hand at short fiction. Joe Bunting inspired me on his terrific blog, The Write Practice, when he was blogging about making the shift from novel writing to short stories. But, unlike the youthful abandon with which Joe leaped, I held back, feeling daunted by the concept. I felt afraid at the thought of having to minimise word count while at the same time freighting every word – much in the same way as poets do – as truth to tell, that just wasn’t me. I’ve always been the talker in the family. My books always make a good thick doorstop.

I felt challenged by the discipline needed for penning short stories and, I was too green at the time. I’m not a much better writer now, but I’m more willing to give things a go and fall flat on my face than I used to be when I was young. I’m more willing to get things wrong.

Daniel Jose Older

Last year, I signed up for a writing workshop with Daniel Jose Older, on writing short fiction. Daniel Jose Older was as informative and inspiring as expected. I felt electrified.

When he set us loose to write a short story, I had no preconceived agenda, no thought in my mind as to subject. We were given as broad a set of parameters as you could imagine, in that we could write about any subject.

I write for children and persons who are young at heart. I have always done so, since the day I began writing my first children’s story at the age of seventeen. That was my automatic go-to. As I moved the pen across the page, I was writing for children. And yet, the story which came to me on the ether was different, bustling and rustling. It wrapped me up and rushed me headlong on its dark wind. I particularly love when it’s like that, when the muse is speaking loud and strong and the ride is the most beautiful exceptional rush of creativity.

safe_image

Imagine my surprise! I looked up later and found that instead of the usual adventure/quest type stories I like to write, I had written my first ever spooky tale! I’m still not sure how that happened, or where I veered off the path.

Birdy is  set in a modern Kiwi suburb. It’s a story about an old Maori woman, who the neighbourhood kids believe is a legendary water demon, and the creepy way that Birdy preys upon the weaknesses of her neighbour’s child. The story takes place over one hour in the victim’s life, with the clock ticking.

This story is dark, macabre, tense, unlike anything I’ve written before.

Horror is a genre I tend to shy away from in all its forms. I far prefer fantasy that is uplifting. Even so, I had surrendered to the process and this chilling tale was the result.

The horrible thing is, I’m not sure if the story is any good. I have no idea. In fact, I sincerely doubt it is. While I might be unsure if I will ever go that way again, you can be sure my hands are clammy. I’m looking at every granny sideways, and hearing twigs creak in the night, and shadows slide out of the corner of my eye!

How about you, have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?

DSC_1094

Talk to you later…

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

*

‘I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.’ ~ Jack London

*

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

Advertisements

insecurewriterssupportgroup

Wednesday is time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

DSC00263

The wonderful writer and the guy behind the successful blog, The Write Practice, Joe Bunting said, ‘No one is born a writer. You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease becoming, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a writer. And so are you.’

Three chapters from the book I’m working on, had come back from critique, and one comment in particular came up again and again. Show it. Don’t tell it. This is basic, fiction writing 101. Yet, this is what the process of critique is for. By showing your prose to third parties for evaluation; you discover blind-spots. In my case, there have been seemingly endless ways and times in which I have told when I should have shown.

220px-lee_child_bouchercon_2010

I haven’t abandoned my earlier stance, my stated belief in the value of a good “tell.” I still feel the same way. Telling gets such a bad rap these days. I still align myself with the bestselling author, Lee Child, who once famously said, “I’m a storyteller, not a storyshower.” Me, too, Lee!

In her essay, ‘On Rules of Writing, or, Riffing on Rechy’, popular author Ursula Le Guin cautioned against the commonplace writing advice, ‘show, don’t tell.’ Says Le Guin: ‘Thanks to “show, don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented.’

However, too much exposition is like pepper in a meal, too much will spoil the dish.

ursula_k_le_guin

‘Adjectives and adverbs are rich and good and fattening. The main thing is not to overindulge.’ Says Le Guin. So, while telling is vital, the technique must also be leavened by lots of hearty showing.

I found a number of places in my story, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ where judicious tweaks along these lines elevated the material by miles.

Here’s an example:

On the long walk from the HAFH library back to their quarters, Aden pondered the news of the Forbidden Time.

I rewrote the opening paragraph:

On the long walk from the HAFH library back to their quarters, Aden recalled how they’d managed to get into the library. In his mind’s picture, he again stood peering at the framed page, which proclaimed the news of the Forbidden Time. His heart beat faster.

It’s a slight tweak and yet, it improves the whole flavor. Truth to tell, I’m constantly surprised and delighted by the power of the show.

psa-re-book-two

I’m editing my novel, The Sasori Empire, and yet rather than cutting words out, I’m adding words in. We coined a new term for it, “aditing.”

The thing is, we all know we have to show not tell most of the time and yet, for some reason perversely, it’s quite hard to do. Maybe we could work an 80/20 ratio on this.

Having acknowledged I needed to show more areas of the book, I have continued to wade through each chapter, like a “tell” seeking missile. I locate static areas on each page to break down and expose.

artout1-3

These areas of telling are really just momentary lapses of attention on my part, when I was originally writing the rough copy. With the help of my critique partners, we find more dark corners like this in my story all the time, areas badly in need of illumination.

The best ways to “show” parts of your story is to think as if you’re in a movie and tease apart all the elements that make up a scene, action, dialogue, and rendered thought.

Herein lays the real value of showing. It gives us detail, context, a sense of place. These things influence our sense of the stakes, whether we care about the story and the characters enough to keep reading.

How about you? Are you creating something? Editing? Writing? Aditing? Let us know, and share the pain!

023

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

“Now let’s write our brains out passionately and with minimal reference to grids and rules. Let’s write from a love of the art and the heart of fiction.” ~ PJ Reece

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

‘I have decided to keep a full journal, in the hope that my life will perhaps seem more interesting when it is written down.’ ~ Adrian Mole

066

‘Loneliness is a mist

Surrounding me

Enveloping me

Chilling me to the bone!’

(The first stanza from a poem I wrote aged 16)

Always having been interested in writing, I started keeping a journal and recording things on a daily basis from the age of sixteen.

Have you ever tried keeping a journal, a daily log of your life? Here are six very good reasons to start…

1: ‘By putting the thoughts swirling around your head all in one place, it can help you think more clearly about your life circumstances.’ 

It was Joe Bunting, of TheWritePractice who said this quote. He also said, ‘Writing in a journal is a great way to get your thoughts recorded. Although it might not always be the prettiest writing, journaling often provides insight and perspective.’

054

2: Journaling is a viable way of doing your “daily pages.”

The teacher and author, Julia Cameron, advocates writers do “the daily pages” and Kate de Goldi, one of my teachers was the same, advocating writing “non-stop for twenty minutes a day,” to keep the writing muscles lubricated and the muse flowing.

3: Keeping a journal gives those of us with overactive imaginations a place to safely vent and release, to process our past, and marshal our thoughts.

One of my former writing tutors, Joy Cowley actively encouraged us to write daily entries, as a way of exorcising the demons and ghosts of childhood. These things needed to come out, she told us. “I see many sad, lonely stories coming out in people’s writing. These sad experiences are still within us, but its therapy writing, these things need to come out. Even accomplished writers will write bleak books that are directly from their own painful childhoods.’

059

4: A journal is also an effective tool for getting some perspective on our own selves and insight to our own lives.

I remember an elderly friend of my mother’s, who upon hearing I kept a journal, praised me roundly. She said, ‘It’s a great practice because then you can look back and see patterns in your life and relationships.’

5: And also, our diaries are potential material for future stories or books.

063

As Joe Bunting said, ‘Just like your mind is often racing, so is your character’s. If you’re looking for an alternative way to tell a story, there are a couple reasons to try a diary or epistolary format.

‘Writing with a diary or with letters as the story framework can be a good way to challenge yourself and explore different writing formats while continuing to move your story forward. Just be sure that the story structure continues to make sense, and the plot development moves logically in the context of the existing story.’ ~ Liz Bureman

065

6: Journals are a terrific way of storing memories.

They keep people alive in a way. How’s this entry I found upon opening my journal from 1994: ‘Tanya rang this morning and after just talking to her for a short while my spirits are soaring. She’s an inspirational woman. She reminds me it’s easy to be happy.’ Although I had no way of knowing at the time, eight years later, Tanya would be dead. Reading snippets about her like this bring her to life and refresh her memory in a whole new way.

*Rule of Thumb*

Yet, in amongst all the happy journaling lies a hidden danger. Be responsible and intelligent about what you’re committing to paper or digital diary.

053

I read this cautionary tale over the weekend, in an old magazine I found at my father’s house. ‘I never dreamed of destroying my journals until a friend accidentally discovered a three-page rant his mother had scrawled many years before she died. “My children are takers,” she wrote. “They’re not good-natured. They’re selfish, self-centered, self-indulgent, and only need me when they want money.” ~ Mary Pleshette Willis

Oops!

Let this be your “rule of thumb:” only commit to a journal things you’d be happy with your child accidentally reading.

It is therefore wise to cull one’s collection of journals regularly. I haven’t kept all of them. And some of them I’ve taken great glee in burning on a bonfire at New Year’s! But the important diaries I’ve kept. I will continue to love them, to revisit them. And of course, I continue to write in my current journal every day. A good habit should be hard to break, and it’s how I do my daily pages!

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever kept one? Do you keep yours or throw them away?

001

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

‘Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.’ ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com