Saturday, March 7, 2015

Back to the writing


Trying again to overcome resistance and fear. Trying to stick to a daily writing habit.  Feeling inspired by the exercises in a gem of a book by Dorothea Brande - Becoming a Writer.  

First exercise - write first thing every morning, before you do anything else. Without Fail. Write anything. And if you get stuck just write 'I Can't Think of Anything to Write' again and again, until boredom forces your brain to stop farting around and get to work.

I started writing in an old diary - feeling good about the way I could churn out 5-6 pages every morning. I scribbled out memories and how I felt about stuff. Then moved to writing out scenes and ideas for stories still floating in my head. And discovered (once again) that the act of writing really really helps the brain to solve problems. Possibilities come up - possibilities that wouldn't have risen up if I'd just been staring in space thinking about a problem. So I've been churning out tiny story scenes instead of stream of consciousness stuff.

Then I decided to type out the morning pages in a secret blog. So I can add tags and find stuff later. Also - hand written scrawl doesn't look like 'real' writing to me. 

Some mornings I type out a few sentences on the iphone on the way to work. Because the morning writing session got me inspired and I want to keep experimenting. Even though I might have woken up with No Desire At All to write.

This morning I copied out a section from a short story by Jean Bedford - Through Road. It was a long paragraph showing the thoughts of woman who at that moment is feeling rage and resentment towards her husband. There's a long flow of angry thoughts - and then she laughs at herself and the story has an upbeat ending. Decided to re-work this for a scene in one of my stories.  I love the sense of thoughts flooding out, the way significant moments across many years are linked. But in my story the girl will suddenly see reality and the relationship will end.  There's pain, but also relief about finally being able to let go. 

AND - Thanks to Jean Bedford I realised the back story I wanted to put at the start of the story can be there in the girl's thoughts at the end instead. The back story won't be an info dump because it will show why the girl is so sad and angry.





Saturday, September 27, 2014

Make Back Story the hook


I came back to a short story I read in Strange Horizons. The opening paragraphs really stuck with me. 

Interesting how the writer Rich Larson starts with 'back story' and piles on the adjectives - two things the learner writer is told to avoid. 

The back story works for me because it raises questions : Why has Cedric come to work at this place? Why did he run away from his father and then his girl friend? What went wrong with his relationship? What happened before he arrived at the rig?

Rich uses vivid poetic language that paints an alien and dark scene.

Back story works when there are gaps in the facts provided - and those gaps intrigue the reader.

In Baltic waters, gnashed by dark waves, there stood an old oil platform on rusted legs. It was populated as rigs always are, by coarse men young and strong whose faces soon overgrew with bristle and bloat. Cedric was one of these.
He’d fled his father in New Zealand, then a pregnant girlfriend in Perth, arriving on the rig with insomniac eyes and an inchoate smile and a bank account in need of filling. In the pocket of his dull blue coverall, he carried an old Kindle with a spider-webbed screen and a Polaroid photograph of Violet when she was still slim and still laughed.
His days were filled by the slow geometry of pipefitting, the bone-deep clank of machinery, the shrieks and swoops of soot-stained gulls. At night, when the running lights cast wavery orange on the black water and a sea-breeze scoured at the omnipresent stench of oil, Cedric thought the rig was not so bad. At night he read Moby Dick and anything else vaguely nautical. At night, Violet was blurred beautiful by the webcam window, distended curve of her stomach cropped neatly away, and he nearly loved her again.
Some nights, Cedric stayed up top for hours to watch the starless sky and the ink-black sea. Dregs from this or that leak shimmered around the derrick’s legs. Scabs of tangled plastic bobbed between them. Some nights, Cedric thought he saw a shape moving in the water, but he knew all fish had fled long ago.

Strange Horizons Fiction: The Air We Breathe Is Stormy, Stormy, by Rich Larson:



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Flash Fiction Challenge: One Amazing Sentence « terribleminds: chuck wendig



This week's challenge from Terribleminds - write one amazing sentence.

I've discovered that revenge is a dish you should serve when it's still hot.

Flash Fiction Challenge: One Amazing Sentence « terribleminds: chuck wendig:



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Friday, June 13, 2014

Stuck

I keep coming back to the flash about the girl who suddenly realises (finally admits?) her boy friend doesn't love her. I've got loads of writing 'doodles', some moments I like, but nothing to show in an interesting way, that things have changed.

I'm in love with the story title - Now I just need to find an actual story to attach it to.

In all my drafts the girl is seeing stuff and reacting internally. Then there's this moment of shock and revelation. And then what? She can't just turn to her boy friend and say "today I realised your guru is a sleazy little creep, a fake. He's as fake as our relationship. I don't want to be with you anymore."


Problem - How to show a series of small moments that lead up to her waking up to reality?  


Maybe end it with the girl still clinging to illusion, the same way her BF continues to cling to a guru who is obviously fake. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Writing The Perfect Scene: Advanced Fiction Writing Tips

Writing The Perfect Scene: Advanced Fiction Writing Tips:



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The Writing Café - HUGE list of writing links to revisit

The Writing Café:



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Third person and deep POV

Been trawling the net, desperate to find a copy of Fallen, a short story by Alicia Gifford. One of the most perfect pieces of flash fiction I've ever read. 

Note to Self - when you fall in love with a piece of fiction, make a COPY.  Don't just paste in a link to the old magazine issue and assume you'll be able to find the story 2 years later.

SOB

This morning I found and read another piece by Gifford - After the Fire

Liked the way Gifford doesn't always use dialogue marks or tags, the way it added to a deep 3rd person POV, a feeling of momentum.

I've also seen writers strip away marks and tags when there's only a few lines of dialogue - so the dialogue doesn't take on more significance than it should

Want to experiment with this for draft no. 1057 of the WIP.



He reaches for the bong and knocks it over so that the stinky water empties onto his sofa. Just then the phone rings and it's his brother David on the caller ID.Fuck! But he picks up as he heads to the kitchen for a towel.
Has Tante Risa called you? David asks.
No. Why?
Oh, David says. God, she's supposed to call you.
Lenny has to steel himself. He can't help it. He accepts that his brother is gay, but does he have to talk all mincey like that? Is it required?
Anyway, David says, Mother has to go to an assisted living place. It's time.
The kitchen towels are wadded on the floor in a mildewed stink. The last paper towel slides off the roll. He grabs some dirty underwear from the laundry hamper and goes to mop up the bong water while David tells him how their mother wandered to the 7-Eleven half-naked and that the cops had to detain her like that until they located him.
You left her home alone?
Anna was taking a little siesta. I think she drinks.
Mom?
Anna.
There's one more swallow left of tequila, and a bottle of Manischewitz cherry wine in his cupboard. He slugs down the tequila and tears at the seal of the wine bottle while David tells him he's checked into a number of places and it would cost them each about $2,500 a month.