To me!

Audience of One: Daily Prompt

Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.

Dear Fibi,

If you’re reading this then you’ve probably gone a bit mad – because you’ve only just written it. Seek medical assistance immediately.

But I want you to remember how you feel right now. That fizz of excitement from laying tracks in front of a moving train. The MS is moving forward, track by track, week by week. Every time you come back to it, you’re amazed that you can keep moving forward. Well I’m going to tell you something important, something that you tell other people all the time. Have a little faith in yourself.

Yes, you might feel like you’ve been running uphill for far too long. But at least you’re halfway up now. Not only that, but this is the easier part. The home stretch. Continue the journey and then wrap it up. The giddiness growing day by day as the word count keeps creeping up. Not only are the words going down on screen – but they’re pretty good too. One day soon, you’ll take that next step of sending it all out again. Maybe you’ll even print out a full hardcopy to share with your mum.

Remember that at all times that the ‘Spelling’ is not your friend. It will deceive you. The computer, also with occasionally shut down and magically lose your work. So back it up with an obsessiveness created by the fear of impending doom. Delete all inclusions of the phrase ‘a little’ or ‘for a moment’ because these are pointless.

Pay attention to dialogue. No one ever says what they’re really thinking, so the characters should either. And how many times do you call someone by their name in one conversation? There is never a good reason to have a flat, uninteresting chapter. Invite tension and wibbly wobbly plot lines and at the same time, cut out anything unessential that is doing less than two things to the story. Either developing the world, adding depth, providing information, momentum or joy. But nothing that is only one.

Most of all, you must never give up (even if you run out of coffee.)

Love me.

What would you want to tell yourself?

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I Got Skills: Kabaam. Empathy!

So this daily prompt popped up and I was thinking about a post. The appalling acts in Paris are fresh and they’re raw. I’ve had a few moments wondering today, if writing fantasy is selfish? If there is so much anger in the world and injustice, then why do I feel the need to create a new one to explore? Why do I not tell the story’s that history might one day forget? Why write fiction at all, when there are so many truths to present to the reader. Now this is a post that I feel will need to be written and expanded on, but reading the prompt in its entirety, I was bulldozed by another idea.

If I could be mistress of anything in the world, what would it be? Now, I may be venturing onto a precarious limb here, but I’m going to interpret this as ‘what super power would you like?’ and I know. Today, I know.

I would like the power of enforcing empathy please, thank you. Imagine. Two squabbling neighbours arguing about why or why their mutual fence should be painted green. ZAPP! Empathy. They can both understand the other points of view. They’re suddenly imbued with knowledge and understand that the fence is very important to neighbour A because his mother, who passed away a month ago would always comment on how lovely it looks and to neighbour B – it’s important to him that the fence is painted blue, because he desperately needs something more cheerful to look out at in the morning. Perhaps painting the fence is trivial to one, and not the other, but they’re both standing their ground… KABAM! Empathy.

Now this is a poor example and I know, but imagine. Could many of the world’s problems be solved with a little empathy and understanding? There is so much anger out there and I feel like many people are desperately trying to keep the balance tipped toward peace.

The premise that we have no clue what is happening inside the heads of the people we meet. Yes, that shop assistant might have been a bit of a moody grumpuss when you told them you had the wrong change. Maybe they had bad grace in handling the situation and perhaps you then walked out feeling like a bear prematurely woken up from hibernation. But maybe it’s all that shop assistant can do, to keep standing at their till and scanning things through because their mind is a messy tangle of worries, thoughts and grief. Maybe they’re only just hanging on in their mind and when you leave, your anger is going to be the thing that pushes them beyond a point where they can cope.

The complexities of what we share, with who and what we hold back in our thoughts and even from ourselves, is something I’m currently exploring in my manuscript. I hope to share the prose with you all at some point. Mental Wellbeing is something that I believe is less often explored in fiction and perhaps most especially in fantasy. Robert Jordan provide an excellet character who’s mind fragments and explores perception and the importance of believing what you see thought dreams, but its something I feel is lacking. Something which could be done well and something I aim to do.

A very wise person once told me, that we’re all responsible for our own emotions. Another person also told me, that when you listen to what someone else is telling you, you don’t need to identify with them. Because they’ve done X,Y and Z – doesn’t mean you should go out and try it so that you can form a connection and it doesn’t mean you should step aside from your own moral boundaries. But we can be empathetic and understand that what we see, isn’t the whole picture of what is happening within a person. They might be having the worst day ever, or the best. Who knows? It’s our small, daily actions which have an impact on the world around us. I aim to continue with small acts of kindness and hope that somehow, in someway I’m keeping the balance in a better way.

Just imagine that place, where everyone used their empathy.

Links:

Here is Geek Ergo Sum. Although the link I’ve provided is not his repsonse to the prompt, I often find his blog posts amusing and well worth a read and this seems to tie in nicely with my thoughts for today:

Here is Sweat, Tears and Digital Ink. Their take on the prompts also caught my interest and I thought that I’d share.

 

Edit out the habits: How to Improve Work

There are certainly a few recurring ‘snags’ as it were in the cloth of my carefully constructed words. By editing and work-shopping I’ve been lucky to identify the trends in my work that make it less accessible to the reader. If you have to work hard to read something, then you’re more inclined to give up part-way though. For my rambling thoughts on what puts me off reading a story, there is a post here: Scared of Reading – actually funny story. I started writing this blog post and it originally turned into that one. So I decided to split it into two complete and hopefully coherent articles! Fingers are crossed.

But here are the trends that I learnt to look out for in my work.

  1. Passive verbs passive verbs.

My characters had many limbs that did things for them, but instead I needed to just write, that the characters –did-the-thing- much simpler, much clearer. So for example: Her hand reached out toward the glowing embers. – Passive. What would be better is: She reached toward the glowing embers. – Active. It’s just easier to imagine what the protagonist is doing.

  1. Did uh…did that just happen?

A lot tends to happen to my heroine as she goes about her journey. But I was informed, and then realised that although she reacts physically to the things around her and says things, the reader was being cut out of her thoughts. This was causing a second problem in that my reader felt disconnected from her and therefore my storytelling was less effective. The manuscript I’m working on, was supposed to have a close-third person narration, but too often it was just narration and I wasn’t as close in the third-person as I thought I was. Cue thoughts and responses! It sounds very juvenile but I listed a number of responses such as:

‘She was surprised’, ‘shocked, Sarah turned,’ ‘torn between’, ‘relieved’ etc and then used them as a prompt sheet to include things more in my writing. The result has so far been successful and feedback very positive. Hooray!

  1. Too many wonderful, amazing, blue, sparkling adjectives.

Description is a beautiful thing. However, going through everything with a cut-happy pixie on my shoulder I realised something else that I’d been previously told. I have a tendency to repeat myself. With repetition and a build-up of adjectives, some of the writing was getting lost in itself. Cut, cut, cut! And the work made more impact. I kept the best phrases and descriptions or reworked the ones I really loved and couldn’t bring myself to part with.

  1. For a moment she was a little afraid.

In a final bid to avoid unnecessary repetition in the manuscript I did a ctrl-f word search for a few phrases such as ‘For a moment’ and ‘a little’. I’ll tell you something, I use those tags far too often! I think within 30,000 words I ended up deleting them over 50 times. They didn’t add anything to the story, the plot, the description. They were filler! All they did was water down the writing and stop the protagonist committing to any particular emotion. If she was ‘A little afraid’ why is she just not afraid? If ‘she paused for a moment,’ why doesn’t she just ‘pause.’ Cut!

Everyone has different version of these phrases that they fall back on. My nemesis as I’ve started to refer to them. They’re things I don’t even remember writing! Maybe I don’t, maybe they just appear… That must be it. Those and spelling/grammar errors.

It may be worth going through any work under editing and seeing if you can find one or two and then doing a word search to find out just how many times they sneak in, pesky little things. I definitely go through additional phases of ‘word of the day’ that will sneak in over and again in a chapter if I took a shine to a certain sound when the chapter was in construction. Thank goodness for editing!

The best thing about recognising (the latest) failing of you work, is that when you go on to write new things, you are aware of them and so you make them less often. This does open up the path to making shiny new mistakes, but I like to believe that by slowly eliminating bad habits and trends I’m improving every time I do a thorough edit.

I’m sure there is even evidence to support this as whenever I write I feel it’s better than what I was able to write 6 months ago. I still need to edit the draft, but the process is less painful. I know what I’m looking for, what needs to be edited for clarity what is actually my style. Maybe I still use too many adjectives- but that is because I like long and rambling description. That is a choice, it’s not just the adjectives sneaking in a little.

What are the writing habits you have learnt to look out for? Let me know 🙂

Fibi xx

Scared of Reading?

As a writer I believe it is important that the words are clear and the meaning, vision of what I am saying is easy for the reader to picture. I’m not saying I would like to spoon feed plot because it is also important that ye old brain-cogs get a work out sometimes as well, and if you have to work and remember and think about the story, then you do get more from it.

But in terms of making the writing clear, for me I’m likely to turn away if the writing is too much like hard work and I think the same applies to a storyline that starts to seriously disappoint or concern me. I have to admit that I’ve become a terrible reader and so scared about the emotional impact of what I’m reading that I really have to take a mental run up to books. Luckily in all of this I have discovered Robin Hobb, and she is amazing.

What am I afraid of reading? Well, as an aspiring writer I’m terrified of finding my book already published. The story I’ve been slaving over, written by someone else (better) and in the bookshops. This has turned into something of a recurring nightmare.

Secondly, I worry too much about the characters. There has to be a happy ending for me to enjoy reading the book. I have to feel confident that the author will provide me with a sense of resolution. The first book I really put down half-way through the Juliet Marriliers Blade of Fortriu. I was so invested in the narrative that when it reached a mid-way point, and it would not be possible for resolution to be complete, I had to put it down. It took me over a year to re-gather my courage and return to the story and I couldn’t start at the beginning in case it was too much! (Such a reading wimp!)

But although this sense of ‘happy ever after’ is I demand from a story I’m not convinced if I would necessarily agree from a theoretical stand point. Shouldn’t ‘Happy ever after’ also be complicated, realistic, aspirational? Should I be a more emotionally mature and complex person and encourage that in my reader? I’m not promising anything.

Thirdly, a sure way to put me off a story is to falsely advertise.

I LOVED Trudi Canavans The Black Magicians Trilogy. I bought all three books because they were on offer and devoured them in two days back in 2005. I was therefore delighted when the first of the Age of Five was published and acquired it as a pre-order hardback. For the first chapter I was enchanted, enthralled and delighted that I would get to read the story of this amazing girl growing up to be a member of the white and the trials and challenges that would entail. Then the second chapter happened. Did anyone else feel utterly cheated? She was grown up. This was not the story of the girl growing into a woman. It may be petty by I felt so frustrated by the 360 of expected narrative that after struggling through the first third of the text, I put it down and haven’t picked it up again. I do plan to revisit it and hopefully connect with a series that I appreciate is loved by so many, but it’s at the bottom of my ‘to-read’ pile. I don’t forgive betrayal easily. Sorry book.

Finally, I tend not to read spooky stories, horror, crime or ‘true-life’ I know this narrows my field of literature and good writing but I realised a few years ago that my imagination doesn’t need help coming up with dream or nightmare material. I am usually very invested in what I’m reading and if I read for too long, I emerge a bit google-eyed and hazy on what is real and what is still the narrative replaying. When I read it is not so much imagining characters, it is experiencing their stories in 3d. It is amazing to go on so many adventures, but I certainly don’t want to provide my imagination with concrete horror to explore in my sleep! *shudder*

What would put you off a story? Should it have a happy ever after?

Off off off the hook! Daily Prompt

A second #RoyalBaby will soon be joining the Windsors in England. Given the choice, would you rather be heir to the throne, or the (probably) off-the-hook sibling?

This is my response to the Daily Prompt above:

Well baby news is something close to my heart at the moment. We’re currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby nephew. I am so excited to meet him. I’m a very lucky Aunt to have three nieces and a nephew and every day I can’t help but miss the little monkeys and wish I could see them more often. Every baby is so special and as my nieces and nephews have grown into such cheeky individual I can’t help but be reminded of how privileged I am to share in their lives.

I feel a bit young to have children of my own but delight in creating things for them, making them water-colour story books to treasure with the hope that, maybe one day, in years to come they’ll be worth something. Who knows, if I become a successful novelist people will be dead keen to get their hands on my early little cartoons and miniature books.

But back to the prompt. Which would I rather be? Power is something I explore in Burning Embers and the sequels. Can you ever feel prepared to rule over a country or does power always corrupt? Is it best to watch from the side-lines and enjoy the ‘freedom’ the comes from this. Or does being a sibling automatically open you to a more negative commentary in comparison to an older sibling? Will you never be as good, where as your sibling is considered charming as appropriate to a prince, will you automatically always be seen as verbose. Are you defined by the need to create a clear distinction between the favourable and unfavourable candidate for King or Queen?

I think being heir to the throne would be far too responsible a job for me. It would probably be best if I were far further down the list of possibilities. A castle would be nice though, and a sword…and a dragon……..please? (Just a tiny one????)

Happy lunch everyone,

Fibi xx

So Many Plans…

What am I working on now?

Well, my amazing cousin Alex is approaching the final stages of his ten adventures. It’s been emotional folks! But as a final project in support of this I will be editing/pulling together a second book with memories, blogs, poems and photographs about the ten different events he has completed from all the people who have helped along the way. This will (hopefully) be available to buy at a final shindig to celebrate all that has been achieved this year.

I’m also plugging away at the rest of my manuscript. I have 30,000 beautifully polished words and have realised that the rest of the book needs a good shine up too! I have written a (very long – how did that happen!?) new chapter but am approaching a point where the old manuscript and the new manuscript can marry up nicely. Whoopeee!!! So close, it’s so close now!

Other creative projects include the planning stages of not one, not two, but three murder mysteries with my partner in crime-writing Mr Lovely. Two of these events to be hosted at the gorgeous Racing Sea Horses B & B in England have already sold out. They’re fully booked! Eeek! We best get plotting! But it’s okay we have an A2 pad for brainstorming and everything…

Finally, blogging! I intend to create more blogs and return to my writing conundrums, explanations and explorations of craft.

So many plans.

Have wonderful Tuesdays!

Fibi xx

Challenge: 10 Books

So this challenge popped into my inbox today. The 10 books you read growing up that have stuck with you, from Write on the World and my list is of course below. I was quite surprised by my own choices and memory of the books that have stuck. I was trying to think way back into the origin of my Fairy and Folk-tale obsession and couldn’t find it. I have always loved Disney so perhaps these films are the cause of my fascination?

I’ve tried to put the books in order of how I remember them, so they’re listed as I grew up and they’re an odd mix! But they all had an impact on my life, reading and writing ambition. I was a voracious reader as a child but time and ‘being busy’ has limited my ability to just indulge in a good book.

  1. Narnia – Horse and his boy – C.S.Lewis

Again this was inspired by a film. We used to watch the animated Lion Witch and Wardrobe over Christmas and on sick days. I absolutely loved it! However I realised that our VHS recording ran out 5 minutes before the end of the film so I saw the Pevensie’s following the white stag and then….well I don’t know what I assumed happened!

But my older brother bought me the box set of the chronicles and I devoured them all. I must have read the whole set about 100 times, but my strongest memories are of the Horse and His boy. I have to admit, that it inspired a few of my early attempts at writing, a protagonist sent away as a baby to protect him from an evil wizard. Excellent work. Talking horses – even better!

The Pevensie’s always struck a particular chord with me in that I have three siblings. Including an older brother (the oldest) and gorgeous older sister. Two son’s of Adam and two daughters of Eve. Narnia, here we come!

So many disappointed attempts to cajole my siblings to climb into a wardrobe…

 

  1. Five go on a hike together / Valley of Adventure – Enid Blyton

There was a definitely point in my life when I was Enid Blyton obsessed. I read everything she’d written that I could lay may hands on. I even asked my Mum if I could go to boarding school and was more than a little bit heartbroken when she said no. So I started writing plays about what it would be like, largely based on Blyton, I have to admit! I planned out props, costumes, stage directions. I don’t think the drafts ever developed beyond coloured pencils on scrap paper, but I was determined.

The two books above are ones that I remember most clearly. Five on a hike has the children and Timmy (their dog) trying to recover ‘treasure’ from the bottom of a river. The scenes where lights are flashing over the moors and Julian is diving in freezing water has stayed with me. Including a love of Ginger Beer (Best hangover cure. Ever. I love how things evolve.) I was also beside myself when my family adopted a dog, not quite called Timmy, but Sammy was close enough.

 

As for the Valley of Adventure this gave me such a vivid image of a exotic jungle location and a secret civilization inside a volcano, that when I read H.Rider Haggard’s She for the first year of my degree, I felt I already knew the landscape and exactly where She resided. Very strange but quite amazing.

 

  1. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge and Heidi from Johanna Spyri

I loved both of these books equally and also feel that mention should be given to Anne of Green Gables as well, for some reason they all a grouped together in my mind. However, Katy and Heidi I always found poignant as my cousin had Cystic Fibrosis. Both Katy and Heidi’s cousin (Claire?) are ill. Katy is bedridden for much of her book after an accident and Claire seems to have a degenerative disease. Heidi definitely brings home the idea of healthy food, fresh air and good simple living. I loved the Grandpa that lived on the hill, and the image of Heidi sleep walking when she stays in the city is still haunting.

Ah just remembered, the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Another haunting novel of a young boy kept prisoner by his illness and inept medical professionals who inflict torture in misguided attempts to keep him alive despite being afflicted by ill-health. Fortunately the protagonist is a rule breaker and sneaks him out of his room and again, fresh air and good fun enact something of a cure. That is how I remember it anyway.

  1. Danny champion of the world – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a wizard of words. This was my favourite though, a boy who lives in the forest and tries to pheasant poach with his Dad. I can’t help but remember what Dahl says about baths in this book, and every time I see a pheasant I wonder how it would taste…

  1. Machine Gunners – Robert Westall

I found this book accidentally. It was just one that was in a book case at home and I’d never noticed it before. It’s a powerful portrayal of the second world war. A group of children create their own air raid bunker complete with anti-aircraft defence. My strongest images of WW2 on the home front is a mash of Dad’s Army and this text.

  1. And then there were none – Agatha Cristie

Between the ages of 12 -14 I went through a serious spooky phase and read a lot of Agatha Cristie. The chilling tale of how a group of men and woman are stranded on an island and killed off one by one still gives me nightmares! I think it’s the reason I stopped reading crime. Well a mixture of Cristie and Goosebumps. Too many dark tales. I realised that my imagination didn’t need help coming up with villains.

  1. Dragons of Autumn Twilight – Margarat Weis and Tracy Hickman

When I bought this battered, slightly mouldy copy for 5 pence from a Village Fete I fell in love. Yes Dragonlance has been criticised for bringing stock ‘Knight, cleric, wizard, barbarian etc’ to life but I loved it. It had dragons, it had a brooding half-elf. It had a beautiful princess who turned into leader of armies. After Narnia I’d entered a period where I needed fantasy in my life. Dragonlance opened up a whole series. And from Dragonlance I found Forgotten Realms, Drizzt Do’Urden, the Harpers and on and on. I was bowled away.

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I was a teenager when Harry Potter first emerged. My younger brother insisted that he had to have the first two books after reading the first at school. I don’t think he’s ever asked for a book before or after and so my parents were willing to oblige. I however, was far too cool at 13 to jump on any bandwagon! Then I got bored on the way to my grandparents and they were both in the back of the car. I finished the first and then spent the day sat in the loft of their bungalow devouring the second. I was just in time for the third book which is still the best in my opinion. It had enough of my Blyton boarding school nostalgia and my love of fantasy. It had depth, a mystery to be solved and a wrong to be righted.

  1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

I was introduced to Jane and Mr Rochester by the school curriculum and I have to admit that the ‘red room’ scene has inspired a similar claustrophobic and hysterical scene in my own manuscript. I just remember feeling young Jane’s heartbreak and fear at being locked in the room. The chapter still makes me cry. Amazing stuff.

10.Tamora Pierce – Page, Lady Knight then all of the rest of everything she’s ever written

I was so late to find Tamora Piece. I got a random book out the library called Page because it had a girl who was in training to be a Knight and I so badly wanted to be one to. I had to go back the next day and get out the rest of Tamora’s back collection. It was like finding a soul mate. Here was Alanna, Daine, Keladry. The female protagonist’s I’d spent my childhood searching for. I’d found them at long last! I find it really difficult to express my sheer joy at the discovery. It actually hurt. I might have cried a little bit.

One of my outstanding memories of Tortall is when Kel returns after becoming a traitor. She disobeys direct orders from the King to save refugees that had been under her care, and children who would have been murdered in the name of dark magic. Here is my more artistic representation of the moment Kel returns to Tortall and falls to her knees at the feet of the King. Prepared to face her punishment.

It’s been fascinating remember how important these books have been in my life and the decisions and choices I’ve made. I write because I want to return the feeling of euphoria to my readers. That sense that, as a growing child, a young adult, anything is possible.

Have lovely weekends.

Fibi xxx

Everything is going to plan – Panic!

So this is an update. Hello world! I feel as though I’m emerging out of a cocoon of books, writing, endless of paper with red, purple, blue scribbled notes.

I’ve finished and submitted my MA thesis. Party!!!!

So excited!

And yet…

Scared.

I remember handing in my undergraduate dissertation. I spent the week before it was due scrambling to pull 8000 words together in library. I would swipe in at midday and force myself to write at least 1000 words and then as I inevitably didn’t get that done, by the end of the week I was locked in a private study room until I’d finished the entire thing!

Then I was sat in the library with loads of time to spare the morning the assignment was due. It was beautifully formatted and I had two hours to print, bind and swipe it through the electronic system. I decided to casually browse through the requirements one last time. 8000 words to be handed in, including footnotes. What? Including footnotes. What?! PANIC! Suddenly I have just under two hours to remove 2000 words from my carefully crafted, painstakingly edited dissertation. 2000 words of content and footnotes to remove. Editing, re-formatting, re-reading and hoping that I find all the now half-words and cuts and manage to make everything into a proper sentence again once I’ve gone through with a brutal delete key! 30 minutes to print, dash around the library to find someone from the ‘unhelpful-desk’ to help me use the weird spiral binding machines. Which no-one knew how to use. They were like a dusty alien lifeform, left over from the 1970’s.

I had to run up six flights of stairs to swipe my student card in time. I managed it- just!

The ultimate lesson in how not to finish writing your dissertation.

Much beer was had in celebration.

And then I came back for an MA.

Hand – in this time was not traumatic. It was quite lovely. I was given a cookie by my tutor.

I’d managed to finish writing up a few days early. I spent three mornings re-writing an accompanying critical piece (I have never, never written a draft essay before this! I have to admit, they’re not wrong when they advise you to go back with fresh eyes after a few weeks. Especially if, like me, feedback consists of: ‘needed proof-reading’. Followed by my red-faced realisation that some of the sentences are not sentences and the odd word is missing. Just missing. Not miss-spelled or grammatically incorrect (my undergrad suffered from that) – missing. Anyway, essay was re-done commas’ were moved, reading aloud completed.

And I had a whole day and a half before going to print.

It was printed.

It was bound.

It was handed in.

Where is the panic.

WHAT HAVE I MISSED?!

Nothing. So far, honestly – I think all my hard work has just paid off.

Now I can return to my blog. Hooray!

*dusts shelves & generally spruces up the place*

Just as a further update. My cousin Alex is fast approaching his 8th adventure!!!!!

Good luck to him and the rest of the adventure crew.

Especially the little pony who would. Daisy. She’s going along for this one. I can’t wait for the posters.

I now go to celebrate with a more sophisticated beverage than my undergrad allowed.

10 Day Blogger Challenge: Day Four ….Or Fourteen?

I feel as though I’ve probably broken some cardinal rules when it comes to blogging and the blogging challenges. Ergo- I’ve missed a few days/weeks on my blog, eek! As always, I will endeavor to slink back into place and carry on as though nothing happened, nothing at all- you saw nothing you hear? Well, if you’ve been following my blog then really you would have. Anyway, continuing…

Challenge four of the 10 day blogger challenge from Hunters Writing

Profile 3 to 5 top writing craft books

I’m not sure about five, but I can certainly manage three, I think – if not then there is probably a huge problem! Okay, definitely two, two sprang into mind straight away.

Booko numero uno:

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers – Any writer that I meet, or generally just people that I meet and I happen to get into the conversation that I write, I’m bound to tell about this text.  If we’ve been friends for more than a few weeks, I’ve probably raved about it, at you – sorry. But it IS brilliant.  Joseph Campbell, in my mind is attributed for this idea that there are just seven main stories, or The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  (Note to self, profile this book second) But Vogler, I find to be excellent at clarifying the archetypal characters.  He names them all, and then explains their purpose. His explanation of how to structure a story really stuck in my mind. I had already written the majority of my first manuscript when I read Writer’s Journey but I found that it immediately sharpened my focus. I realised that things that had been niggling at the back of my mind, were really out of place and I was able to adjust the plot to make it more coherent and enjoyable for my reader.

Book Two:

For anyone interested in storytelling, structure or literature analysis, you’ve probably already heard of, or read Cambpell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I’m a bit rusty on this text, but I remember it being a gem! Well worth a read if you’re interested in why things work a certain way.

Book Three

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

This book was a set text for a creative writing module I did a few years ago. I studied the module in Canada along with a few others, however when I returned to the UK I had very limited funds and couldn’t either physically bring all of my belongings back with me, or b, afford to pay for postage to send them. It was a nightmare! In the end, I had to make some hard decisions and ended up selling over half of my school books back (the college had a handy buyback scheme). However, I was determined to keep Writing Fiction! And so I did, it was so satisfying to deliver it safely home. (I have a thing about books, it’s bad.)

Why was I so determined to keep the text? It has the most amazing examples of writing to inspire. It also has writing prompts and suggestions that I felt really helped me develop my characters. Having studied writing at University for a few years, I recognized in this book something I hadn’t found in others. I do really recommend it to anyone who wants something constructive to read.

(I also carried back my copy of the Watchmen – which I gave to my brother for Christmas and he LOVED)

Daily Prompt: State of Year – Sunny with bright spells and a threat of cloud.

So, this is my response to the Daily Prompt: Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.

Well, the state of my year is currently a mixed bag! It’s my birthday tomorrow, so I’m feeling particularly chipper and excited for the next few days to come. I’ve already been given the most thoughtful and touching birthday present, but I’ll be writing more about this at another time. All I can really say, are children are awesome and I love my little nieces and nephew to absolute bits. (Their parents are pretty amazing people as well!)

Perhaps this year needs a comparison to last year?  This July I have a different job to last year, and I love my job. I thoroughly enjoy wandering into work every morning and seeing where the day takes me. This time last year, I had several very close friends. This year, I’ve managed to maintain the majority of those friendships, but I’ve also gained the clichéd soul mate. Soul mate is a very strange term for me to use, I don’t consider myself to be a new-age hippy by any means. I mean quite like scented candles and walking barefoot, but I don’t want to live communally. But I’ve been very fortunate, that after a very very very verrrrry long wait, I found the right person. Or rather, we found each other. It’s very hard to put into words how happy I am in some areas of my life. A frustrating thing for a writer.

I’m also half way through a Master’s course in Creative Writing, and not only do I have one adorable and personality-filled kitten, I have two!

However, this time last year, I was elated that I had finished my manuscript. I was filled with buzzing enthusiasm and energy and determined to have my name in print. So far this year, I’ve been far more successful in my blog, and I’ve also completed a few other projects as a writer. As mentioned in a much earlier post, Rob and I co-wrote a murder mystery event for over twenty people. I am proud of our achievement.  However, so far this year, I’ve realised that the manuscript needs another of the endless re-writes and I’ve not managed to give it any time.

Writing is something too easy to side-line. It comes after the washing up, the laundry, the tidying. I comes after spending some quality time with friends and family and trying to keep friendships maintained. I can’t help but feel a knot of worry growing. I’ve been provided with an amazing opportunity to send my manuscript to a friend, who happens to be an editor. He may even recommend it to his friends who publish books – in my genre!  I can hardly bare thinking about it. I am currently so excited and so determined to give everything ‘my all’ but at the same time that I feel as though I’m (quite happily) running flat out on a treadmill, or down the road of life.  But if I don’t slow down soon, I’m going to miss an important turning.

New rules are needed. Writing needs to move up in my priority. Blogging is good for this, I’m forcing myself to blog something each day, even just a photo. But if I can take time out to write the blog, I should be taking time out to work on my manuscript – again.  I’ll set myself goals – this week, I will write 500 words of the new beginning. New words, not the words I’ve already started writing out.

I’ll let you know how it goes…