The Nuts and Bolts of Writing
Step Away from the Desk Tags: writing colour senses

I love the autumn colours. Walking around at the moment I often stop and look at the trees, or a few scattered leaves on the ground. Having lived in Hong Kong for seven years where the definition of seasons is less defined (and there are far fewer deciduous trees), it feels like Iím experiencing this for the first time. I hope the novelty never wears off.

Recently Iíve read that colour is a good detail to add into a story and where better to draw inspiration than from the nature around us. Even if youíre not experiencing the autumnal colours like me, Iím sure thereís plenty of colour to find if you look in the right places. In Hong Kong, there was always colour everywhere, which made it easy to overlook, but you can try walking a different route, see something (as if) for the first time. Stop, take out a notebook and jot down a few lines about it, go home and write about it in detail.

As I peg out the washing in the early morning, thereís often dew on the grass, sometimes I can see the plumes of my breath as I chat to my children. The sun is now noticeably lower in the sky, casting different shadows, and effecting the light. Fewer daylight hours evoke different feelings in people, many negative, and this in turn can be used in a variety of ways. Squirrels dart around the garden and that makes me think of animals hoarding food for the winter, and others preparing for hibernation.

I think itís easy when weíre working on a story, or a section of a novel, to get stuck inside; whether that be physically inside our homes, or the places where we choose to work, or stuck inside our heads. Iíve never been a big one for exercise, but am starting to see the benefits of spending time away from the desk. Sometimes a quick walk allows me to formulate a sentence or paragraph or story that Iím struggling with and sometimes I see something completely new that I just know will one day make it into a story.

So, get up and out. Just donít forget to take a notebook and pen with you.

Where to Begin Tags: writing fiction character-driven plot-driven theme

Where to Begin

Iím currently doing the free Start Writing Fiction course with Future Learn. You can still join but youíll have some catching up to do. For me, itís the second time around. The course might be for beginners but Iím aware of my shortcomings. One of them is where to start. Character-driven stories and the use of a notebook highlight this course. The suggestions and on-hand exercises are helpful and motivating, especially if youíre muse is on holiday.

Most of us have probably gone out on the street or sat in a cafť, noting small details of people around us: their clothing, gestures, physical features, the way they move or communicate with others. I like to pick out anything unusual and exaggerate it or give it a twist. A fictional character starts evolving. Pictures in magazines and newspapers can inspire too.† Iím off to a film festival this week so shall be on the look-out for how character is portrayed by actions, facial expressions and dialogue.

As part of my character-building study, I walked around my local market today where the usual fruit and veg, clothing, household bargains and Ďcraftworkí Ė usually mass-produced in China Ė are sold. Itís the sort of place youíll find a cross-section of society, intent on browsing, thus easy to watch undisturbed. Many are more interesting than the goods.

An impatient husband frowned and fidgeted as his wife fingered every dress on show. This struck me as a bit of a stereotype so I moved on. At the next stall, a young couple rifled through a rack of linen dresses. The man pulled out a crimson one to suggest to his partner. This was more interesting. I listened to snippets of their whispered conversation, whilst I hid being a row of jackets and noted the young manís charm, his engagement with her, his swarthy skin, bohemian clothes. I later built on this description to use in an exercise in my Future Learn course. Something about him triggered my imagination and a character started to form. What was their relationship? Was there a possible story here?

Recently, I visited the International Photojournalist Exhibition in Perpignan and was inspired by the words and photographs telling the story of an Afghan refugee. I wonít be using this for a novel Ė he should Ė but I plan on editing a flash piece I already began, which was inspired by both character and theme. Hopefully, a fascinating character leads to a strong plot. Admittedly, more important in a longer piece.

So where do your story ideas come from? Do you start with character, theme or plot? Or are you clever enough to have all three in place from the word go?

Hello

Hello

RSS

Who's Online
This Month on Writers Abroad
Monday, October 01, 2018
October 2018 News
Writers Abroad

Promote your Page too
Our Book Shelf

Writers Abroad's Bookshelf

The House at Zaronza
tagged: writers, abroad, vanessa, couchman, historical, and fiction
Love is All You Need: Ten tales of love from The Sophie King Prize
tagged: writers, abroad, sophie, king, prize, alyson, and hillbourne
Out of Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, croft, members, and publications
The Duke's Shadow
tagged: the, duke-s, shadow, louise, charles, debut, and novel
Foreign & Far Away
tagged: writers, abroad, amanda, hodkinson, books, charity, anthology, 2013...
Losing Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Enchantment
tagged: nina, croft, writes, and abroad
Conversations with S. Teri O'Type
tagged: writers, abroad, christopher, and allen
Break Out
tagged: writers, abroad, ninca, and croft
Deadly Pursuit
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
The Calling
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Big Book of New Short Horror
tagged: featuring, wa, member, alyson, and hillbourne
Tiger of Talmare
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft

goodreads.com
Networked Blogs