Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I'm on a bit of a Superhero bent at the moment, having dressed as Batgirl at Butlins a few weeks ago (How come most of the famous female superheroes are DC?). I'm currently reading Demo, a brilliant comic by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan about disenfranchised youths with certain superhuman abilities. I'd like to say it's all research for Matti, but really it's just for fun. I'm still having problems with Matti; I'm still not sure how to write it. I mean, I have a plot, I have characters, but how to stylistically do it justice, I can't figure it out. At least I know not to make my heroine scream "Noooo!" anytime she finds someone dead. That's just plain annoying.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
My god-daughter is really into Monster High at the moment. I bought back a doll for her from New York in April, thinking how cool it was to have little goth dolls, as opposed to the normal pink-wearing Barbies or those Bratz dolls with their freakishly-large heads.
I really fell for the idea of them, these anti-Barbies who face the oppressive "Norms" to get an education and get on in life (afterlife?). So I was a tad disappointed when I saw that there was a Monster High website, which seemed to imply that all these monster teens actually cared about was cheerleading and stealing someone else's boyfriend. I know that's the bread and butter of teen dramas, but really. Perhaps they ran out of imagination after the initial product designs were completed.
Anyhow, she's asked for another one for Christmas, which I will happily supply, because she's currently too young to read the novels and I like the fact that not all of her dolls are blonde (OK, so Zombie-Blonde is allowed).
Thursday, October 20, 2011
All this considered, it may seem a little strange that I am not taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, and in fact it has only been over the last couple of months that I have really finalised that decision. It is not because I won't be writing, and it is not because I've become one of those snobs who looks down on the programme and can't see the benefits. Rather, I am going to use my time productively to create a first draft organically. By that I mean, I am going to give myself the time to let my prose develop, my characters breath, my plot develop at a natural rate, so that (hopefully) I don't have too many major problems when it comes to the second draft.
I believe that if I did not work full time (and wasn't also studying German) I may be able to write an excellent first draft for a novel through NaNoWriMo in 30 days. However, because work is crazy busy, because I can never seem to go long without adding a new extra-curricular activity into my schedule, what I get through NaNoWriMo is passionate if sketchy dream worlds that need a lot of elbow grease afterwards.
So that is why I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I will miss uploading my daily word count into the website and chatting with people in the forums, but it's for my own good.
Best of luck to all those who will be taking part! I hope you get what you want out of it.
For me, for now, I am moving on.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
First, write a story.
Second, print out said story and read it again, preferably after letting it sit for a few days. Mark on the manuscript where there are errors or where things need expanding or changing for the sake of the story/plot.
Third, create a new second draft, starting from a blank word document, using your notes and incorporating all the necessary changes from your notes.
Fourth, go back through this second draft, and think about phrasing and correct any errors.
Fifth, finished. Share with friends and have a night off.
I'm currently at step 3, and it is DIFFICULT. I'm out of my comfort zone now, writing with my editor's hat on (rather than my creative hat, which has daisies and paper windmills and bubbles coming out the top...). I'm determined to get it finished, I really need to get into the routine of finishing what I start.
And on that note, let me tell you that last week I workshopped a story from the "Corrie Flint" canon at Speculators and spent a little time outlining a plot. This might be my next big project, but I'm aware that I still have so many things unfinished, so near to completion.
I'll let you know how the re-writing system works out. For now, back to the grindstone.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
I'm glad it is autumn now. Autumn to me is so strongly associated with the start of school, and so I usually use it to kick off new writing projects and make new year's resolutions. One of my main aims for the next month is to think about which story I want to present as my first novel, so I can focus my energies on that, instead of spreading myself thinly across several ideas.
A couple of websites/blogs that I found interesting this past week:
This blog gives some advice about manuscript lengths.
Juliet E McKenna talks about the problem with women characters in Fantasy fiction
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Some people don't think that grammar is important. They are wrong. Grammar is important on a fundamental level. It wasn't established as a way to police how you write or to limit your creativity. It is there to help a reader gain clarity and understand the meaning of your words. This is obviously very important if you are trying to be a writer, but it is also good standard practice to have a good grounding in grammar for any job application or official correspondence you might have to write. I don't always get it right myself, so thought it would be good to do a post exploring common grammatical mistakes.
A few things to remember:
"It's" is used as a contraction of the phrase "it is". The apostrophe represents the missing letter "i". "Its" (no apostrophe) means something belonging to something else. If in doubt, try replacing the word in your sentence with the phrase "it is" instead. Does it still make sense? No? Then don't use an apostrophe.
I can't explain it better than how it is here, and this has the added bonus of being humorous to boot.
Basically, "There" is used to denote direction ("over there") or an abstract sense of place ("there once was a boy") (there is more to it than that, but I'll try to keep it simply - for further details see here.) Use "Their" if you mean "belonging to them"."They're" (it's that apostrophe again!) is a contraction of the phrase "they are".
A little bit of old school grammar here, but generally speaking, "that" is used if what you are referring to is important to the meaning of the sentence ("restrictive clause"), "which" is used if you could leave that clause off completely and it would still make sense ("non-restrictive clause"). There should never be a comma before "that", but always with "which".
I did a google search, and here are a couple of stolen examples from http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/which-versus-that.aspx:
Example 1: Gems that sparkle often elicit forgiveness
If you remove "that sparkle", it changes the meaning to say that all gems elicit forgiveness (and note there are no commas).
Example 2: Diamonds, which are expensive, often elicit forgiveness.
Diamonds are always assumed expensive, so if you remove the "which", the meaning remains.
For more on grammar, do have a look at http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/, which I found whilst researching this post. I'd also recommend reading The Elements of Style; a very handy guide.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Works in progress at the moment are mainly Matti (still the working title, I really hope a better one pops into my head soon) and a revamp of my old Three Sisters idea. This newer version started off as a dialogue between two young teens in a cafe. It is now around 7000 words long, and I'm just seeing where it goes. I'm also about to start work on a new short story. I got the idea on the train back from Edinburgh, as I was sitting in my damp clothing looking out of the window. It is about a ghost and a boy. The challenge will be to keep it under 10,000 words long.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Hatred is such a strong thing. I think the only times I've ever really felt hatred (or something akin to it) has been caused by jealousy. Well, jealousy and hormones. It's strange how people can become obsessed with people they don't even know, and think that just because they're online all rules regarding etiquette and appropriateness don't exist.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Mine is currently this: After work, go to the library.
Just like starting any new routine, it's hard to get into. At first, I'd stop for a cuppa, take a few notes or check emails before actually getting down to the business of writing. Now I have a drink in the office before I finish work, so that as soon as I leave I can head straight to the "Silent Study" zone.
It gets easier. And now, if I don't go, I don't have to punish myself because it's starting to feel wrong. I'm becoming more productive, having finished 2 1/2 chapters of Matti and 2,500 words for something else that is Three Sisters related, just in the last fortnight.
On a separate note, I'm off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a couple of days at the beginning of August. Any recommendations? I've just finished compiling my usual matrix of shows I'm interested in. Top of the list is Paper Tom and The 90s in Half an Hour. Can't wait to get back to Edinburgh, if only for a flying visit.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I had a really nice rejection email the other day - sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it? - possibly a sign that I'm actually getting better at this craft. I'm feeling pretty positive right now. I feel like I am starting to establish my voice through my writing, and I have a good idea of what my brand will be when I do get published.
So, enough with the update already. I'm off to do some writing. Catch you later!
Monday, July 11, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Work is uber busy, but despite this I have managed to work out the story for my Matti novel. I just can't quite decide at what point in the story do I begin - I hate flashbacks, but the beginning isn't really the most interesting part. Decisions, decisions.
I am hopefully off to Alt.Fiction next weekend, and going to try to do some of the workshops this year as I didn't go to any last time. I hope it's good.
Uh! Stupid phone. Now it won't even let me send a text message. I think I'd better go and calm down before I throw it at something. Is there such a thing as "phone rage"?
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
I have been having a bit of a think about my Matti novel. I knew that what I had written for NaNoWriMo hadn't turned out as I had intended. It just didn't say what I wanted it to, and I have been flummoxed as to how to go about fixing it. After speaking to a couple of people at Speculators (the writing group that seems to have adopted me), I've decided to try again, starting with the short story that I wrote initially about Matti and Eva at the funeral of their mother, using this as the starting point of the story, rather than as a flashforward to the end. I know now what I want the story to be about (“sisters, and mothers and daughters, and loss”) but now I'm trying to put some plot to it, trying to find something that is fitting to the piece and won't threaten to take over the main themes, like my Whedon-esque plot did the first time around.
It has been a while since I've actually written something. I have done lots of planning, lots of rewriting, but not a lot of the 'creating' recently. So that's something I am trying to get my head back into. I think Matti and Dorcas are my main priorities right now, though I do need to write a new short story too. I have a lot of work to do, but I'm trying not to let that feeling of being under pressure and needing to rush consume me again. Trying to take it one piece at a time.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Loved Doctor Who this week, mainly for the ending. Can't wait til next week, but don't understand why the show is going on hiatus until the autumn. Is this a money-saving exercise by the BBC? A bid to get higher ratings? It's very annoying anyway, especially as it's basically the only TV I watch these days that isn't on DVD or Virgin on-demand.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Secondly, I went to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham's Theatre last Saturday. It was an excellent production, and made me remember how great the script is, especially the dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice. It actually crackles. Love it.
Thirdly, the rewriting of Matti is going ... slowly. But I've realised that that isn't a bad thing. Taking my time to analyse the manuscript and make considered changes is actually going to make it a lot stronger, in terms of story, character and language. I recently read the advice about revising on Fantasy Faction's website: http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/revisions-part2, which has helped to clarify the techniques I have been trying to use. Holly Lisle's method (see link in the margin to the right) involves doing all the stages at once, but I've realised there isn't enough space in my head to process like that, regardless of how many coloured pens I use.
And finally, I am working on something new. Well, it's really taking old things but making them work together. A sort of Frankenstein's Monster of a story, if you will. I am fleshing out the idea of it at the moment, but hope to start writing it properly as soon as I have all the kinks figured out.
Thank goodness it's another Bank Holiday on Monday!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Thumb flap. Oh yes. You read that right.
You see, on Saturday I trapped my thumb in the fridge door. It was highly embarrassing and extremely painful. Three days later, and the bleeding has stopped, but I have a hole in said thumb, which is covered by (you guessed it) a flap of skin.
Sorry. Perhaps I should have warned you that this post would be a bit icky.
Currently, my thumb is deathly white, though this may be because I've just removed the plaster rather than a sign that my thumb is about to drop off. One hopes anyway.
It's also making holding a pen difficult, so cue a writing session that is computer based for today. Today is a "Dorcas Day" so I will be spending this evening mainly working on my Dorcas Grubb novel. For further info, please follow the labels below. It's all about a girl dealing with bereavement and mending the hole in her family, much more than it is about her genetic ability to travel in time. Off now to do some work. I would still like to successfully reach my deadline of having a novel completed by September.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Rejection is as much a part of the writing process as the writing itself. I know this. I normally try to stay positive; I actually have a "rejection letter" folder where I store all the letters and emails and view it as a sign of achievement. Stephen King used to do a similar thing, only he had a nail in the wall where he'd pin his.
I suppose even the most positive people can have their off-days though, so maybe it's because I got three in a row that it has hit me a little harder than usual.
Rejections aside, I have started the rewrite of Matti (working title), which in this draft will be aimed squarely at the teen market. I think I'm also going to have a go at writing Dorcas Grubb at the same time, and just see how it goes.
Anyway, now I hope you don't mind but I'm going to go back to wallowing in self-pity for a while.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
My attention span is ridiculous. If only I could concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time I might actually have more things accomplished.
So on that note, I'm going to go back and do some writing.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I saw three shows whilst away; two Broadway musicals, The Book of Mormon and The Addams Family and an Off-off-Broadway play, Bring Me The Head Of Your Daughter. (warning: Spoilers below).
The Book of Mormon was excellent. So glad I went to see it. Whatever your views on the subject matter, the rest of Broadway could learn a lesson from the tight composition, relevant catchy hilarious songs, seamless directing, musical direction and choreography and talented cast. It never dragged, the pacing was spot on and it actually managed to be sentimental and quite sweet as well as full of the crude humour you'd sort of expect given the authors (here, here and here).
The second show was The Addams Family - The Musical. See, I can hear you groan already, and I should have trusted my instincts. But then I looked it up and found out that Andrew Lippa had written the score. So it couldn't be that bad, could it? Wrong. I don't think anyone involved (aside from the costume and set designers) had actually ever read or watched anything related to the Addams Family before. The songs were forgettable almost instantly (with the exception of "Pulled" which was quite good). The story was pretty feeble - Wednesday is now a teenager and in love with a "normal" person. Except that Wednesday and Lucas had no chemistry, and sang songs at each other so you never actually believed they were in love. It was almost like watching a school play where the children aren't allowed to so much as hold hands. The actor playing Lucas tried to sing to Wednesday but meant that he was in profile for most of the show so I have no idea what he looked like, if he can act, etc. It wasn't just the kids though who seemed to have a "no touching" policy. Gomez and Morticia had no chemistry whatsoever. Roger Rees, although game, was basically doing a "Nathan Lane" impression and so for me didn't feel connected to the role and all of the jokes fell flat. Morticia was cold. I just kept thinking back to the loved-up Angelica Houston and Raul Julia in the movie and thought - how could the musical get it so wrong? They even have Morticia and Gomez get into a fight because she is feeling insecure about her looks. Completely out of character.
The rest of the story was about the two families - the Addams family and the "normal" family - meeting. They play a game of "full disclosure", which is made out to be something hideous, and it turns out to be a game of "Truth". The "normal" mum drinks a potion that's supposed to turn her "from Mary Poppins to Medea" but instead makes her act drunk, say what's on her mind and do a very mildly sexy dance. If that's what passes for Medea in this day and age, heaven help us! Anyway, it was awful and it put me off seeing any other Broadway shows in case they were terrible too.
"Bring Me The Head Of Your Daughter", was about a lesbian couple, one of whom is an alcoholic and abusive, the other raped by her brother when a child, and the lesbian couple's daughter, who is accused of being a cannibal. As you can sort of tell from my summary, too much happens in this play to make it really successful - it was only about an hour and a half long! When the brother turns up, the play segways into another story about his health and his relationship with his sister, and none of the stories are concluded satisfactorily (which was ok, but the ending they went for wasn't particularly strong). Good performances, direction and set, though a minor peeve was that the daughter, who had adopted an English accent, should have let the accent slip a few times when she was angry - it would have really have emphasised the theme of her story about illusion and truth.
So there are my reviews. Had a fantastic time, and glad that it's the Easter holidays soon because I can finish unpacking and tidy the house.
Had a couple of ideas for stories whilst away that I think I may look at. Have to do some planning first though before I start, and also finish off the couple of stories I've already started.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Like this one from a girl I used to be friends with and haven't spoken to in years.
At first, I was thinking that maybe this is some sign that we should reconnect. Then - oh my God, what if something bad has happened to her, and this is destiny's way of letting me know?
Now I'm convinced it's just some sort of Yahoo/Hotmail/BlackBerry bug.
Nice idea though.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
You see - two minds!
I'm working on some short fiction at the moment, and think I will approach the "Matti" question again when work is less hectic. So whether it will be finished by August... I can't rightly say.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I'll be so glad when it is April. April is this lovely land where I only have to work for 3 days for the entire month and I get to visit New York. April is this place that is free of stress and full of sunshine. I can't wait until it comes!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
But anyway, I am back from being all theatrical, and really do need to make a start again at the writing. I still have a novel to edit and rewrite, plus another one that needs completing, and an older one that I've been thinking of rewriting too. Think I'll give myself tonight to finish mopping about, and then get back to work.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Things are pretty much coming together now; I know most of my lines, most of my song lyrics, and have a pretty good idea where I'm supposed to stand at any given moment. Can't wait until we start running it all the way through though - I know I need to build up my stamina as the show rolls from one big number into the next, and I really don't want to be panting and wheezing my way through "Great Balls of Fire".
Just to plug the show again to y'all, I'm in Return To The Forbidden Planet at the Concordia Theatre, in Hinckley Leicestershire, from Mon 21st - Sat 26th February. Tickets are £8-£10 depending on which night you come, and details about how they can be obtained can be found here: www.concordiatheatre.co.uk. I play the Science Officer, "a woman with a mysterious past".
Because of the increased time I'm having to put into rehearsals, coupled with the busy period starting at work, I'm going to have to put the editing of Matti to one side for the time being - simply until the play is done - otherwise I might have some sort of break down. Big plans are afoot for the week beginning 28th February, don't you worry.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Speaking of presents, I have bought myself a little post-Christmas gift, James Scott Bell's guide Revision and Self-Editing in preparation for revising my Matti novel. I'll post a review once I've finished reading it, but I found his guide on "Plot and Structure" very good (one of the first writing guide books I've read that is actually useful). In the past, when I was editing Inter Vivos, I followed Holly Lisle's online advice for revision (see link in the margin), but thought it might be useful to get more guidance as this is the area of writing where I have the least experience.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Then Christmas and New Year flew by, and I missed the perfect opportunity to ease myself back into blogging with a quick non-judgemental Christmas greeting. But I didn't, because I was having an off-line Christmas, like we did in 1996 before the internet was commonplace and you actually had to turn on the telly and wait for a designated timeslot to find out the news.
And now it has come to this. A month with no new updates.
What can I say? I psyched myself out.
So here it is, not particularly witty, well written or interesting, but a blog post nonetheless, in the hope to get this thing moving again.
What I'm reading now: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
What I'm procrastinating from doing now: Learning my lines for Return to the Forbidden Planet (I'm on at end of February folks!); re-reading my NaNoWriMo novel.
Weird proof that wishing on stars works, but not always in the way you'd like: I wished I would finish my novel. So my computer has broken, making it impossible for me to play The Sims 2. Annoying, expensive to fix yet will probably mean my second draft will be completed within six months.
If you're not already, follow me on Twitter @LucyAnnWade
It's nice to be back.