Back to this blogging thing…

So there are a number of things I could be writing about here. I’ve had some amazing, inspirational tutors in my writing MA. I’m trying to buy a house. There are a LOT of family ‘things’ going on and the months are whizzing by!

Quite excitingly, I’ve sent of a smidgen of my manuscript to an agent who I will be meeting in person (it’s a writing conference thing and you’re allowed to book a slot with someone EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK) I am VERY excited. If a bit terrified to hear what they think, face to face. I’m going to take tissues, and a disguise, just in case I can never show my face in public again…

I’ve also decided that the manuscript I have so keenly sent off to said Agent, needs a complete re-write. Again. AHAH! Yes, you didn’t seeing that coming, did you!? NO, sadly, me either…

But it needs the work. It’s work that, again, I’ve known in my heart of hearts has needed to be done, but I’ve been putting it off. It’s taken me the best part of 6 months, to come to terms with the fact that it needs a full re-write. Not just a painstaking edit. It’s not plot holes or character flaws…it’s just I’m a better writer now and if I’m going to do the story justice. I need to give it my best. Which means starting from scratch.

It’s going to be the same story. The same characters, same twists (kind of) but it’s going to be fresh and much better, much smoother and driven properly by theme not plot.

I’ve also found and subscribed to the wonderful Interzone. I sent them a short story, but unfortunately it wasn’t accepted. Once I’ve received the magazines though and gotten to grips with their style, I fully intend to write some more short pieces to send to them. Based in the world of my manuscript. I love writing the little pieces, they help add texture and use up the ideas that don’t fit into the journey of the novel.

What is everyone else up to?

Dialogue Advice – Reading Aloud? Nooooooooo

Following yesterday’s blog post, a fellow writer of Young Adult fiction replied that she always reads her dialogue aloud after writing it. That is, all around brilliant advice!

But what if you have a crippling phobia and inability to read aloud? Yes, yesterday’s blog post was about my fear of writing dialogue. Well, surprise! I’m also afraid of reading it out.

Why am I afraid? Well, I could give a few reasons and it all starts back at school. I was bullied throughout my school career, with very little support from teachers. It was however, a long time ago. But as a child being bullied, the last thing I ever wanted to do is draw attention to me, imagine!

“Yes – I spend most of my time in this school, trying to hide from the rest of the people in this classroom and what I really want to do, is stand up in front of them, have all of their attention devoted to me, and read aloud. This is my dream!” – No, it’s a nightmare.  It’s the mental equivalent to walking onto the stage and realising that you’re naked, or something.

Now combine this desire to hide from the spotlight and some minor dyslexia. Imagine staring at the white board, concentrating as hard as you can and still seeing absolute gibberish. Difficult. Very difficult. You begin to believe that you are stupid. The words are making sense to everyone else, but for me, at times I felt that I was trying to read hieroglyphics. Brain did not compute.

Reading however, is brilliant. I loved reading, I lived for reading and still live for words. But as a youngster it was my escape and I read much more quickly than I could ever write, or speak. The result? My eyes and my mind are far further ahead than my mouth. Cue tongue-tied-twisters. Combine with innate fear of a. reading aloud in the first place and b.  giving my classmates another reason to mock me and the results are a put of dread as the ‘turn’ to read goes around the room. The Turn is coming closer, creeping creeping, only three people away. I’d be so worried about having to read, that I’d start losing touch with the rest of the world and feel a bit spacey. I couldn’t breathe. The words would start to wriggle under my gaze, slipping over the page. Sweaty palms. The person reading is next to me. I’m next. What are they reading? At this stage there would be no understanding of the text or comprehension of what had just gone. Just a mad skim to the bit I was supposed to speak aloud before the inevitable doom arrived. My turn.

Moving onto University did wonders for my confidence. I was able to rebuild myself from the very shy and defensive person I had become. I was found and accepted by friends and it was wonderful. However, the fear of reading aloud had become a physical reaction as well as a mental one at this point. I studied creative writing, and so once a week during our seminar would need to read aloud my work. It was awful and still isn’t very pretty! Having to read once a week, every week made things a bit easier. But when it’s your own work? Well, at that point you’re definitely naked. I can’t help but feel that my work is a part of me. A creative output, it’s found form that I’m pleased enough to try and share with other people.

This year, I was privileged enough to have a piece acted out at RADA as part of my Masters. My classmates were elated to watch their pieces and each had a strong reaction to the work. The actors and actresses were also absolutely amazing. I couldn’t bring myself to watch however. Mine was a particularly personal and emotive piece. But all the dizziness came flooding back. There was nothing wrong with the writing and the feedback was astounding in its positivity. But this reading aloud thing – I think it’s really just not for me. Which might be a problem.

As my fellow writer replied to me on twitter, in order to publicise their work, writers are required to read aloud. Yikes! I hadn’t really considered this before. I’m of course, happy to work my socks off to publicise my writing and any future publications. But reading aloud?

Well, this is one fear I’m going to need to work on. All of the above are reasons, and possibly excuses as to why I have managed to avoid reading aloud for so long. Like my desire to avoid dialogue – I’ll need to get on with it won’t I?  I’m thinking acting classes… Actors have to read dialogue, and after seeing professionals at work, their ability to read/act, in the same moment of being handed the script, is truly inspiring to watch.  I’m not longer the shy person I was either. I am, by necessity confident and far more outgoing than I was.

All the advice also says, that you should never submit something without first reading it aloud. I need to at least be able to read my work to myself.  This is my new mission, write, edit – read out. Put the words out there in the open air. Even if only the kittens can hear me.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to be on stage, but maybe if I push myself beyond my worry and so far beyond my comfort zone, then hopefully, possibly – sinking back to simply being able to read my work aloud to other people, and enjoy it will be comfortable; or at the very least easier.

What do you think? Do you have any tips and advice?

How necessary is it, for new writers to read aloud?

Speak now! – Or this will be a very silent story…

I have been informed that I’m quite good at writing dialogue. This was news to me, as I hate it. I never would have expected that detesting something would lead me to be good at it, but there we go. So why or rather how, has this happened?

When writing Chapters of Manuscript 1 – I’ve decided to name it this for the time being, as it’s getting rather confusing referring to other WIP’s and manuscripts. Anyway, when writing Manuscript numero uno, I would know that a dialogue heavy chapter would be coming up. Events had happened, results were due to come and discussions needed to be had. This would fill me with absolute dread. I started elongating the previous chapters so that I wouldn’t need to get to that particular hurdle. I’d rather write around and around in metaphorical circles than attempt the dreaded speech. Some of those sentences were okay, but most have been cut now.

But I couldn’t put it off any longer; I’m referring now to a particular chapter near the start of the story where a long and fairly complicated exchange took place – and it had to be written. Chapter named, headed…time to start the words. Excellent. I wrote several very very very long introductory paragraphs leading up to the impending conversation (my new cunning plan, have a long introduction and really ‘set the scene’ of the chapter – genius!) Or so I though, for about a week – until I realised that should actually just get on with it!

Facing my fear.

The benefit of disliking dialogue so much is that it somewhat improves my dialogue. It’s not exactly sparse, but the characters say what needs to be said in-character but concise.  That’s quite accurate to how people speak though, right? Unless telling a story or anecdote with added frills of hilarity, we don’t tend to go on and on and on to make our point. Unless there is reason, or character quirk.  For example

“Would you mind getting some milk from the shop? It’s on your way home and we ran out yesterday,” said Sam.

This is all very interesting; it reveals a lot of information. It sets a bit of character. But would you ask your flatmate to get the milk like this? Would you not just say:

“Can you grab some milk?” Sam asked.

The other information, although lovely, can be cut out. It’s all just bumph. Whoever Sam is addressing, will, I assume, know where the shop is.  The fact that they run out yesterday? Wouldn’t they know that to? Also, what does the reader really gain from those tidbits. If the local of the corner shop on the way home from work, is important – then surely it deserves more than just an aside in a random conversation?

Let’s say that Sam was talking to Steph and the location of the shop is in some way, vital. The reader MUST know this. Well then, Steph should probably be visit the shop on her way home from work. The reader will remember that more.

That is my advice on writing for the month. I know I’m not particularly qualified to preach but I thought I’d share some of my own processes.

What I also learnt from facing my phobia of dialogue, was that I need to let myself breathe. If I have to write the dialogue – I really should just do it. If it’s awful, fine – I’ll re-write it. I might have to take hours and hours when editing to get written, what actually needs to be written, and the way I want it. But you can’t edit something that isn’t on the page. Sometimes you just need to put something down, so that you can carry on and not lose momentum. The first draft shouldn’t be perfect. Well, aim for perfection but accept that sometimes you won’t be 100% satisfied with every  word that you drop, with pain staking care onto the page.

To recap then…

1 Get on with it.

2 You can’t improve on something that doesn’t exist

3 Remember to breath, first drafts are imperfect and they should be

4 Dialogue is evil – but it can improve over time

What do you think? Does anyone else have any hints or suggestion for writing dialogue?

 

 

Happy Birthday Mum!

There has already been one family birthday this week, but at a risk of jumping in before the Daily Prompt catches up with me, I would like to offer my Mum a very happy birthday.

My poor mother puts up with a lot of anecdotes about her unfortunate cookery, her sometimes strange world view and various other things, that my siblings and I find hilarious. However we can all be assured that she loves us, and would only want the best for her family. Her one wish has always been that her children and grandchildren are happy.

I’ve been scouring the internet for some Mum poetry but have come to the conclusion that I really should write my own – as I’m pretending to be a writer and all that. So, I will come up with something! Sadly, due to my own lack of planning, I don’t have anything fresh to offer today and will whip something up with a bit more time.