Don’t Do That! – Five for Friday

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I’m running so late today.

It’s been a frantic week as we’ve had builders working on the house.

‘The noisy one’, was sent home from school with chronic earache and ‘The bitey one’, is teething and as a result, extra bitey. He has also become a fan of early wake up calls, the most recent being 3am.

So I apologise as this may well become Five for Saturday which really doesn’t have the same ring to it, but at least my intentions were good and my caffeine levels high  🙂

I’m currently knee-deep in editing my novel and really enjoying it, even if I am lacking a little in time and focus.

I began reading my draft I’d completed in November during NaNoWriMo. This brought me to the horrible conclusion that I’m a terrible writer and should probably take up woodworm breeding as I seem to have little talent for anything else.

Therefore, I decided I would make this week’s Five for Friday about,

5 Things to avoid when Writing a Novel.

1. He grinned, he shrugged, he smiled…

Apparently I seem to write first drafts full of these. Everyone is shrugging, grinning and smiling at each other so much that it’s a wonder they haven’t all been committed. All that’s missing is a little maniacal laughter a maybe a shopping trolley full of tins.

Don’t do it. It’s not clever. It’s repetitive and lazy writing. Instead hit yourself on the head with your keyboard twice and go lie down with a damp flannel over your face.

2. She decided to run as he would probably kill her. 

Okay, this one’s a little clunky, but you get the idea. I see this a lot and it’s just bad, bad, bad.

NEVER warn the reader what’s going to happen before it happens. It’s annoying and WILL result in me flinging the book across the room, or, if it’s my kindle, trying to close the page down, miss, and end up hitting the screen repeatedly like some kind of zombie typist.

3. Really, very, suddenly…etc,

…and a number of other weasel words.

If you ‘d like to see a list, that’s by no means exhaustive, take a look under ‘Writer’s Resources’ on my page.

My first drafts are littered with these and I pull out every single one unless they are absolutely necessary. Especially ‘Suddenly’. This word should be tied to a chair and left watching re-runs of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, until it’s very sorry.

4. Bad formatting. 

I have read so many kindle books where the words stop abruptly and begin again half way down the page, or they have large random spaces between words like the book suddenly forgot what it was talking about.

Go through your book again and again. Re-check when you add it onto kindle and then bore all your friends to death by making them check it too. It’s worth it.

5. I don’t know/I think you should/Why is that?

I hate wooden dialogue.

There’s nothing worse than wading through a page long conversation between Data from Star Trek and The Terminator, or worse, a book full of characters that ALL sound the same.

I have a wonderful acting friend who helps me with mine. She runs through it over the phone or highlights potentially hazardous wording via email and returns it to me, accompanied with a recent entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, to teach me a lesson.

Either way, read through all your dialogue out loud. Get a friend to read any opposing parts and it will become clear where needs work.

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That’s it for today. It’s now 1am and officially Saturday.

Thank you so much for reading, and good luck to anyone else on the long road to Editville.

Have a great day and Happy Writing!

 

 

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Five for Friday – Things I’ve learned so far!

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Nope I haven’t left the country, fell down a well or been eaten by cats. I’m doing NaNoWriMo and am sooo behind I’ve taken to drinking more wine and walking round graveyards to prove to myself that things could be worse.

The first week was fantastic, I was full of energy and enthusiasm and flew along, each day creating more than I did the day before.

Then…

I slammed into the wall.

Some days I do above and beyond and others I do nothing at all which translates to me barely making the daily quota and me thinking I should have probably stayed in bed and watched Come Dine with Me.

I am terribly late in my Five for Friday today, but determined to do it anyway I thought I would write a note on Five Things I’ve Learned So Far!

  1. 1667 words are more difficult to write than I thought. Especially when you’re managing on three hours sleep, not brushed your hair in two days and forgotten where the children are.
  2. Some days the words just aren’t there. In which case, I make another cup of tea and write absolute rubbish till something manifests. And if it doesn’t at least I’ve added to my word count. Result!
  3. I love word sprints. It’s possible that I have become an addict and that will probably be the main thing that gets me to 50k.
  4. I need short term goals to keep me going. Just the act of going onto the NaNo site and updating my word count or adding a badge gives me a sense of satisfaction and helps when I’m really struggling to find the motivation.
  5. There’s lots of writers out there like me. You’re not all poised with quill in hand staring off into the distance with a look of the muse about you. Your in your pyjama’s, eating dry Coco Pops, possibly crying, just trying to get through the next 500 words.

So that’s my Five for Friday, rapidly written as I’m still behind and the wine’s running out.

Speak to you soon and Happy Writing 🙂

I don’t like Coffee!!!

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Well, actually I don’t mind it every now and then. But a good cup of tea is the way to go, for me.

You have to make it right though, ‘as it comes’ is definitely not an option!

I like mine milky, but not anaemic, dark enough to tell its tea but if you’ve hit the colour of David Dickinson’s tan, you’ve gone too far.

It’s been a while since I wrote an update…mostly because I spent the summer working on the same sentence. (Don’t worry, it will be a kick arse sentence when its done!).

The kids are back at school. I now only have ‘the wakey one’ home in the day, whom I’ve decided to rename ‘the bitey one’ after a number of incidents leaving me resembling Jasper from the Twilight books.

So I’m ready and raring to go.

I’ve begun clearing out old notes for my novel. It’s taken on so many changes over the years, I’ve literally got pages and pages of stuff that’s no longer relevant. I’ve also just changed from Writeway Pro to Scrivener so I want to get everything organised before I begin transferring.

I’m in the process of converting a sci-fi short story into a radio play. I think the format will serve the idea well and will get it across better.

I’m doing the ‘Writing 101’ course with Blogging University. They give you prompts each day to get you writing. I’m two weeks in, incredibly behind, but enjoying every minute of it.

Whenever I do anything like this I’m always taken aback by the sheer amount of talent on here. So many great writers, phenomenal sites and wonderful posts that either lift you up or make you think…or make me hungry and dream of cake.

And finally, I have signed up for NaNoWriMo. I’m both excited and scared about this. As many of you know, I’m not the best when it comes to focus. So I thought I’d change it up this year and try something different…lets be honest, it can’t get any worse, I’ve already been working on my book for the past six/seven years.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to.

So, how are you?

Buried Treasure

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Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Find yourself in a creative slump? Stuck for ideas?

I’m reluctant to use the term ‘writers block’. But every writer gets stumped from time to time. The white of the paper gleams, taunting you. That inner voice sneers. ‘You’ll never think of a good idea again’.

This time, skip the crying and eating all the biscuits in the house. Try something inspired by The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fuelling their creativity. Full of helpful assignments and exercises. One of which is very helpful when it comes to ‘writer’s block’.

You write stream-of-consciousness for about fifteen minutes every morning. It can be absolutely anything. If nothing comes to mind, just write ‘I can’t think of anything to say,’ over and over until something comes to you. Eventually it will.

I recently stumbled on one of my notebooks from 2011 and decided to have a read.

Apart from being quite cathartic, looking back at all my worries and stresses of the time, coming from a position now where I know everything worked out was a lovely feeling in itself. But I was also reading ideas that I’d totally forgotten about. This inspired me to write something now.

Keeping any kind of journal is, in my opinion, essential for any writer. There is a wealth of material desperate to make it onto the page. You just have to be present.

So, if you do happen to find yourself experiencing any kind of block, write stream-of-consciousness for a week, even better, for a month. Resist the urge to go back and read them at this stage. You want a pure outpouring of ideas, worries, strains, anything and everything.

Leave them for at least a week – the longer the better. Then start looking back over your work. Is there anything that jumps out at you or inspires you? You’ll be surprised what hidden treasures are hiding in your own words.

10 Things I haven’t done yet!

As part of the “Writing 101” course, we’ve been asked to write a list. So here’s my list (by no means complete), of things I haven’t done yet 🙂

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Image courtesy of Photl.com

  1. Stuff chocolate cake in my mouth and then smile at a stranger.
  2. Finish my book. (Or, in fact, any project that I ‘ve started in the last five months).
  3. Bake a lemon meringue pie that isn’t brown or inedible.
  4. Finish reading one of the four books I’ve started reading during the past four weeks.
  5. Wear a sombrero to a parents evening.
  6. Laugh loudly in a lift full of people for no reason. (This is made slightly more difficult since I’ve got a buggy and not so many people can fit in the lift).
  7. Finish an important poem I’ve been working on for the last three years. (I fear there may be a pattern forming…)
  8. Meet some of my favourite authors without coming across as a crazed stalker.
  9. Find where the large spider in my front room has gone (while secretly hoping its made its way out of the house and far away and took all the other spiders with him).
  10. Eat dinner. I’m starving and now struggling to think of anything besides food.

Apologies…again!

I’m officially the worst blogger…ever!!!!

Sorry, but...

The bathroom is done! We’ve the cleared the clutter! So I enrolled on the Blogger 201 course and settled down to a great two weeks of stretching myself and my blog.

But with the school holidays already in full swing, my kids had other ideas!

I have three wonderfully, crazy boys.

The eldest, otherwise known as ‘the hungry one,’ has more social engagements than a Kardashian. I’m fighting for breath under an ocean of invites, summer school dates, camping trips and paintball parties.

The middle one, aka ‘the noisy one,’ challenged me to a Lego building extravaganza. Never one to shy away from a challenge I have successfully built a house, complete with garage, roof terrace, and a place for Ironman to breakfast with Darth Vader.

Never let it be said I don’t have goals!

This leads us finally to the youngest, also known as ‘the wakey one,’ in celebration of his penchant for five in the morning wake up calls and demands for Disney Junior.

Added to this, things like chores, household admin (meh!) and cooking, (Although I’m reminded that super noodles and custard creams are not considered a balanced healthy meal, according to hubby), I’m struggling to get even a sniff of a computer.

So I apologise profusely for my lack of posts and hope this proves it’s not just online where I’m deficient. (I work hard to achieve an equal work/life failure balance).

Starting today, I’ve set aside a little, and rather hopeful, time to work. So I promise to visit as many sites as I can and finally get some of the tasks done. If you leave me a message, rest assured, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you so much for visiting 🙂

…And so it goes!

As many of you know, I decided a year ago to dedicate more time to my writing projects and would post up my progress, or lack of, as I go.

With that in mind, I would also like to talk about ‘missed opportunity‘.

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original image can be found at www.rantlifestyle.com

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a magazine I love for about a year now. I knew it was perfect and I was looking forward to pitching it.

I’d already made contact with the magazine editor and she seemed open to viewing more of my ideas. The situation was primed.

The only problem – I couldn’t quite get the article down. 

I tinkered with it for a few weeks, then I’d put it aside for a few months thinking ‘I’ll come back to it later’.

I don’t know how many times I did this, but it’s safe to say that it was probably more than the current number of re-runs of ‘Come Dine with Me‘.

So I’m flicking through the latest copy of said magazine when I see a peek at next months articles. There in black and white bold print is not only my idea for an article, but it has my chosen title as well.

I stared at it for a few minutes in disbelief. All that played in my head was – that could’ve been me!

Hey, I’m a big believer in everything happens from the reason and I never like to pass up a situation without trying to learn something from it. Even if it is, I watch TV far too much (see original Come Dine with me comment).

I realised that ideas are around us all the time. You only have to reach up and seize it.

But if you don’t, somebody else will. Someone will be willing to work a little longer, or harder than you did. And they will make a success of your missed opportunity.

Now I’ll be committing that particular idea to the archive section of my computer, labelled ‘took too long and now I feel stupid’.

So, if the muse smiles upon you today and an idea happens to float past you, grab it with both hands and work on it now. Do it now. Don’t wait till tomorrow.

In the meantime, you’ll find me at the bar, downing whiskey and muttering in low tones about how I had a great idea once!

Happy Writing 🙂

p.s. Another thing I learnt today – always back up your work. Because something will happen, such as child impaled on broom, and you will lose your entire post and have to start again, if it wasn’t for browser back up that is – phew!