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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 I’m experiencing this for the first time. I hope the novelty never wears off.

Recently I’ve 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 you’re not experiencing the autumnal colours like me, I’m sure there’s 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, there’s 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 it’s easy when we’re 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. I’ve 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 I’m 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 don’t forget to take a notebook and pen with you.

Plot or Free Flow?
Category: Writing
Tags: writing plotting short stories novels

Something I’ve been giving some thought to recently is whether you should plot out your writing – whether it be short stories or novels – or whether you should just start and see where you end up.

When I first started writing, I had plenty of ideas. I would start and then get stuck and eventually abort. I still have files and files of half (or quarter) written stories. To help myself with this I set myself the challenge to write a piece of flash fiction every day for a year. I can’t say that I wrote 365 finished pieces, but I certainly got much better at being able to reach an end. I’ve heard some people say that even if you don’t know how the story is going to go, you should at least have an ending in mind; something you’re working towards.

For flash fiction it’s probably not even possible to plot out your story. But how about for longer pieces? Barbara Dynes in Masterclasses in Creative Writing says “[t]he amount of obstacles and complications you add to your initial idea depends on the length and tone of your story.” (p.11) This is her suggestion for a 2,000 word story: Problem, Obstacle 1, Obstacle 2, Obstacle 3, Crisis, Climax (pg.11). I’ve tried plotting out stories like this, but don’t find they flow particularly well when I write them. This may just be because 2,000 words is not a good length for me, or maybe it’s because plotting doesn’t work for me.

I’ve recently finished the first draft of my first novel. I didn’t plot anything. I knew the beginning and I had a rough idea of the ending and I wrote a couple of pages per day until it was finished. It will take a lot of editing, but is that any different to a plotter’s first draft? The 90-day novel, written by Alan Watt, is based around there being a story structure for the novel, which “can be applied to any story, from the most ‘traditionally structured’ to the most esoteric piece of writing” (pg. 285).

I know every writer needs to find his or her own way, but my question is: have you changed the way you write in the time that you’ve been writing? How? And why?

This Week - Monday 16th October 2017
Category: Site News
Tags: Blog Monday Muse

I’m going to pretend (please play along) that the reason “This Week” is up so late is because I wanted to wait for the blog/muses to be published first. The real reason is obviously that I forgot. Apologies to you all.

Well and truly on the Bragging Stool this week is Alyson who was not only Highly Commended with ‘Left Behind’ in the Morgen Freeman monthly comp, but also won the Mags4Dorset short story competition. And, if that wasn’t enough, her crime story ‘Sweet Revenge’ made it onto Writing Magazine’s short list. Congratulations!

Adhocers this week are Sue (on page one!), Angela, Chris, Maggie and myself.  

Monday Muse

Nicola has provided some scary muses for us this week. Here they are:

  1. You’re driving on a country road. It is late at night. You are far from home. You realize, as you check your mirrors, there is a man hiding on the floor of your back seat.
  2. You are falling. The 737 is 100 meters above you. You hear the rush of the wind, and it’s so cold. You realize you are still holding your…
  3. Something in the closet was making a strange noise, so I opened the door and…
  4. Write a story or poem that includes a church, a pumpkin and a black cat.
  5. Write a story or poem that takes place on a mortuary late at night

Blog

Jill has written a very interesting blog about what age people are when they start writing. I often think that I wish I’d started earlier, but I also think that you bring a lot more to your writing when you have experienced life a little. I’m sure it’s different for different people. Certainly interesting to think about whether your age affects your output.

October Challenges and Opportunities

Jill and I have pieces up in this section, but it’s certainly not too late to pen something for critiquing.

Meetings, etc.

The next Poetry Project (1) is scheduled for Friday October 27th 3pm.

The next Formal meeting is scheduled for Sunday October 29th with Sue in the chair.

 

Hope you all have a great, and productive, writing week! 

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Break Out
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