Monthly Archives: February 2011

World Consistency – Magic

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On a long drive recently I listened to the audio book of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It’s good so far, but it got me thinking about world consistency and certain choices that need to be made before beginning to write.

My reading preference is Fantasy/Sci-Fi or Horror fiction, and it’s what I tend towards in my writing.  The scope and freedom afforded a writer by a fantasy world come with the burden of creating a believable and consistent environment in which to set the story.

I have a great book called “How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card. He devotes around 21 pages to “Make rules for your world” in his chapter on World Creation. He perhaps goes a little over the top on his advice about space travel or language, but the point is valid and the information useful, and shockingly neither of the two other ‘Creative Writing’ books I pulled off my shelf talked about this at all.

I think I’ll write a few entries on this subject, as otherwise it’s going to be a long read and will probably never make it online! I do, however, think it will be useful for me to get my head around some of these issues and of course, feedback is always welcome!

So I’m going to start with “Magic

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50 Word Story!?

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Sonia at Doing the Write Thing is going to think I’m going all “Single White Female” on her I’m sure 😉 I was inspired by her blog about The February Challenge – 50 word story by Mura over at Cafe Muravyets and so decided to give this challenge a go.

Wow, 50 words is nothing! Especially when you have to include 5 specific words, so it’s really just 45. Squeezing something that made any sort of sense, let alone had the essence of a story into so few words was a real…challenge. The bit I found hardest, however, was thinking up something other than a surprise birthday party. Which, I did go with at first. Then I read the other comments, and realised I was (probably unsurprising) by no means the only person to think of it!

So, I did what I find works for me best, I just wrote something and then made it fit the brief. I’m quite pleased with the end result. Well, pleased enough to post it on a stranger’s blog and here…

The facade of the family mausoleum looked as always. This was the tenth year she’d come, yearning for what she never understood.

Her brother watched from the shadows, infused by a vicarious thrill at her presence, so full of life, life he would drink in a blink of her eyes.

Turning to the sun

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Late last night my mobile phone told me (unless I was dreaming or hallucinating, both of which were possible due to the Man Flu I apparently have) that today we moved to British Summertime.

Before you rush off to check your clocks (or my sanity) I’ll clarify that my mobile phone was, of course, wrong. It’s the 27th March, not February that the clocks ‘spring’ forward and we lose a precious hour.

This experience, combined with the warm sun sneaking through the cracks in my black-out lined curtains, is making me impatient for Spring to hurry up and get a move on. The first signs of the new natural year, snowdrops, increased bird song and green daffodil leaves are only making it worse. It’s like these things are taunting us. “Spring is so close you can almost touch it…but you can’t have it for at least another month!”

As a teenager I would lie in the bath at my family home and sink as low as possible so I couldn’t see the tops of the leafless trees, but instead the expanse of blue sky, occaisional white cloud, and then, for a few minutes, I could pretend it was summer.

I like the sun. Winter makes me feel like I’m hibernating. Stuck in a holding pattern.Everything feels heavy and slow. Movements and brain waves. It’s almost as if the darkness of winter is a physical presence, pushing down on my creativity. Perhaps I’m solar powered? When the sun starts to shine (and it does on occaision through the winter months) I turn my face to it, like a flower, and it flows through me and energizes me and I feel buoyant and creative and as though there is promise of better things.

So roll on Spring. I’ll even give you an hour of my life as payment for the promise you bring.

Tweet, to who?

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I can’t tweet.

I’ve tried and tried but I just can’t do it. I don’t know what to say. I can’t put my thoughts succinctly enough and when I do they just come out sounding silly, boring or worse, pretentious. I’ve been following various writers and industry success stories and most of them tweet about what they’re writing, quote people or make practical comments about useful websites etc.

It’s not really creative or, for the most part, that interesting. There I said it, sorry! But really it isn’t. Some of it is useful, some of it is insightful, either about the world, or more often, the individual. Neil Gaiman for example tweets constantly and, as a fan, I like to hear how he’s spending his time, but that’s because I’m a fan. He has earned the right to chatter on twitter.

But what of people like me, with my impressive two followers? What can I tweet that will interest them and encourage more? I’ve read lots of guides to tweeting, but essentially it’s “Be interesting”. Does this mean I’m not interesting? I’m not listening to that voice. It’s not lack of ideas. I could tweet about telling my adorable three year old that yes, she is a “big girl” but not a “big enough girl” to fit into that t-shirt. She is in fact a “medium sized girl”, but no, not a “little girl” all in the aisles of the local supermarket. Or how about my views on current affairs, over a 100 killed in Libya by a government turning heavy weaponry on their own people? Isn’t it great that the internet is making sure these people arn’t going through this behind closed doors? I could tweet about my cooking exploits as I trial new recipes and fail to get active yeast to go frothy before mixing it with flour. What about my experiences in the carpark as someone insists on undertaking me when I’m reversing into a parking space as waiting the extra 10 seconds was just not possible for them (but was, apparently for me).

Seriously, who, other than a few close friends and family, really wants to hear my thoughts on these things? So, if that’s all out. Then what, do I tweet about?

There are people out there doing great things with 140 characters, but they are few and far between. Most people seem to be whittering. Which is, I guess, where the idea came from. It’s babble of biblical proportions and I think I’m one of the ones who was counfounded early. Or perhaps I simply never joined in the first place.

Chocolate

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Sonia M over at Doing the write thing posted about Oneword.com nice little daily writing exercise. They give you a word, you get 60 seconds to write about it. It’s a fun little motivational thing, so I figured I’d give it a go.

Today’s word was “Chocolate”.

Chocolate is my heart’s desire right now, as I’m trying to be “good” so no to chocolate. And that is almost all I want most of the time. The melt of it in my mouth as I sip warm tea on chilled dark chocolate. Or the softness of praline and the nutty taste as it slides down my throat.

Brings to mind streams of conciousness, one of my personal favourite styles of writing. Of course it’s not great for long pieces that other people have to read, usually too convoluted, but it’s a nice starting point and can give inspiration!

End of books?

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I have quite a few irons in the proverbial fire at the moment… by which I mean I have quite a few half written or half conceived posts. I’ve been looking into how to protect your online content, do you need to copywrite? Also, how to make money writing from home. I’m also hoping to enter a couple of writing contests. I need a little more research and time on all those topics, so will come back to them later. Today I thought I’d talk about the Amazon Kindle. I got one of these for Christmas and I’ll say up front that I’m sold on it. I wasn’t always though.

I’ve been really snooty about electronic books. You can hardly curl up with a flat piece of tech. It’s nice to display your books on shelves, there’s something nice about turning real pages. Yes, I do buy most of my music as mp3’s but I also like to own the cds (how retro of me!). I’m not terribly materialistic, I don’t buy every film I like, I’m happy to pick and choose an artists songs, I don’t have a library of books. Yet I did feel quite strongly that electronic books were a sad sign of the times.

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Apartment 16 – Review

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I finished Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill a few days ago, so thought I’d do a quick review.

The story follows two key characters, Seth a struggling artist who is working nights as a porter in the upmarket apartments, Barrington House in London while trying to find his muse and the young American, Apryl, visiting to dispose of the belongings of her recently deceased great Aunt Lillian.

As Apryl sifts through her estranged aunt’s belongings she becomes increasingly consumed by a need to learn about Lillian’s life, especially when she discovers the strange circumstances of her death and her almost illegible diaries. It appears that something has been keeping the inhabitants of Barrington House from leaving, despite their fear and unhappiness at being there, the question is what and why?

Seth has been receiving complaints about a burning smell and his investigations take him to the door of the permanently empty apartment 16.  It’s not long before, first in his dreams, then his waking life he is dominated by the presence of a mysterious child who leads him through the next few terrifying weeks.

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