Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Creative exercises for writers

Came across a book by Keri Smith called Mess,Penguin Books

Liked the following suggestions:
  1. Find a magazine with lots of pictures, turn to page 32, choose a picture and make a connectin. I'd add to that, write about the connection in 200 words or less.
  2. Write with your feet.  And yes you might need a large piece of paper and yes it might get messy but that's the whole purpose.
  3. Create a series of chance words then combine them to make a new word.

Friday, 22 April 2011


New writing and reading community based in the East Midlands

Saw this in a recent newsletter.  Haven't yet tried it out.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Writers' Professional Development Planning Session

7 May, 10-1, Medway Community Centre, Bakewell. Led by Cathy Grindrod

A practical session, guiding you through the process of setting goals for your writing, and helping to identify the series of steps needed to achieve them. For further information and to book a place email: alison.betteridge@derbyshire.gov.uk

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

AltFiction Spring Writing Weekend 20-22 May,Chesterfield

For writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror to meet and work with like-minded people and enjoy workshops and talks with established authors in the field. Offering workshops, feedback sessions and expert advice, these weekends are sure to both inform and inspire.

Guest Speakers
Simon Clark – acclaimed horror novelist and author of The Night of the Triffids
Tony Ballantyne – science fiction writer of the Recursion Trilogy and the Penrose Series

For more information see http://www.writingeastmidlands.co.uk/

Alex Davis; writing tutor

Just wanted to thank Alex Davis for the workshop I attended on Saturday at Derby Library.  I stayed for the whole day though it was separated into 3 distinct sessions.  I found it very useful, especially the practical exercises he gave us to do about plotting a novel.

It's always good when you make a leap in understanding because someone outside of you makes a comment about an idea.  I've had this idea in my head for a couple of years about a novel I want to write, on the basis of what causes someone to kill another human being (outside of a war situation). 

The exercises he took us through made something crystal clear for me because I'd been struggling with the format of how to write it.

Hmm - now that means I have to do something with it!

Alex also teaches at the Quad in Derby and is organising AltFiction.

For more information about his classes go to http://www.alexlit.co.uk/

The other aspect of the workshop I enjoyed was meeting other writers - always a cheering activity to be with those who are as mad as I am about writing.  Or maybe just mad.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Crossword addicts

Caught an item in yesterday's Writers Almanac about the first crossword puzzle book.  Published as a collection in 1924 by Simon and Schuster.

At the moment, I do crosswords sporadically which means I never build the muscle you need to tackle the harder ones.  I've been very irritated by the Guardian Review setter recently because they seem to be addicted to geography clues. 

Perhaps I'm saving up the activity for later in life when I have fewer physical activities.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Inspirational quotes for writers

"A sense of humor is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge." Dave Barry

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Writers Day 2 with Alex Davis 16 April Derby Library


Looking forward to new perspectives on being a writer and how to structure a novel when I go to the workshop on Saturday.  Always fun to meet up with other writers, aspiring or published. 
Still places available I think.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Why I'm Here by Jacqueline Berger

Just catching up with yesterday's Writers Almanac and really enjoyed the poem that started off the day's entry.  All about the web of circumstances that led the writer to being born where and when she was.


Monday, 4 April 2011

Weekend Jottings (including lopper progress)

Lopper progress

We've bought the lopper.  Now I have to wait for a calm day to use it.  Not because I think it will be difficult but because of the length of it.  When we walked back from buying it, the lopper came up to my shoulder and I'm 5'8" - felt like Neptune with the trident trundling along.

I don't know if you've ever used one of those extensions for decorating - you know like a brush handle that you can fix on the end of a roller.  We used one when we decorated the high and wide landing in our house.  Not that it was difficult to do, more that the weight of the whole thing provided one or two hairy moments as I extended it to its fullest length. 

Looking at this lopper I have a funny feeling that the same thing might happen when I'm waving it about at a tree branch.  Especially as this time I'm likely to be up a ladder too.  What looks very doable from my bedroom window feels quite different when I'm looking up at a 30 ft tree.


Finished the Gift of Rain.  Very tragic story full of revenge, hatred and at a deeper level love.  Interesting mix of cultural and religious ideas and beliefs.  Having it set in war provided the extraordinary circumstances of a boy taking the fate of his family on his shoulders.  In setting, completely different from Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise that I listened to as an audio book, but similar in the problems that face the human heart in conflict.  It's easy to think we'd know how we'd behave but until I was faced with threats to those I loved, I don't have any idea what I'd do to survive.

Picked up some thrillers from the library on Saturday.  None of them newly published but new reads for me.  A Dalziel and Pascoe, a Slider mystery and I think the latest Alan Banks.  With apologies to authors Hill, Harrod Eagles and Robinson that I placed their characters first. Not conscious choices in the subject matter but they all are about the fate of young girls.


Watching very little television at the moment but I did sit down for two hours of wallpaper TV last night in Lewis.  Not very stretching intellectually but still.  Seeing Juliet Stevenson's character go up in flames like Brunnhilde on the funeral pyre had to be worth the time.

Speaking of placing characters first, I did notice in the credits for Lewis that the composer came before the writer.  Just a thought.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Sharon Wright, Dragon Slayer on how to complete your book in 4 weeks

I met Sharon at a Broxtowe Women’s Event recently and was inspired by her commitment and dedication to her writing. As I’ve said in my blog many times, you won’t write a book a you don’t write and just starting is the most important step. It doesn’t matter if you have to change everything you write later; what’s important is that you get into the habit of writing on a regular basis.  Fifteen minutes a day is better than an hour every three months.

I appreciate Sharon taking the time to share her tips with us and they’re all very practical and useful.

5 Tips for Writing Your Book Fast

One: Plan before you start

Planning and preparation is key to any success and this goes without saying with writing my book “Mother of Invention”.

My intention at first was to have ten chapters, but as I planned the contents this soon sketched out into eighteen. You can only be guided initially for the start middle and end; this will grow quite quickly but make sure you are happy with the chapter headings before starting to write your book.

Break each chapter into sections with a clear idea what it will entail, making reference to every element, date, and points you wish to make. I split my chapters into start middle and end, like a mini book in itself, as there has to be a purpose to each individual chapter. I used all my notes as a tick list to make sure each chapter flowed perfectly into the next.

Two: How you write every chapter

For me I chose to write each chapter in no particular order. I wasn’t structured into writing from the start of the book to the finish. I wrote with the emotion I was feeling on the day. If I was feeling sad and lonely I would milk these feelings in my mind to describe exactly what I was trying to deliver. I needed to put myself in that moment, so the reader was in my headspace and could feel every emotion I was trying to create. Writing with emotion keeps them captivated and is a real page turner.

Three: Enjoy your writing

You need to enjoy your writing, to really submerge yourself like a therapeutic trance where the outside world cannot disturb you. If necessary take yourself away, unapproachable from life. I decided the only way to do this was to take myself to a retreat, where nobody knew me, no phones, no conversation nothing, just complete isolation. This may not always be possible I appreciate due to family commitments, but you need to make quiet time available.

Four: Be structured in your writing

Be both structured and realistic with your timescale and don’t feel under pressure to finish. It will come naturally from within when you’re really in the moment. Writing each chapter was both rewarding as well as draining, but the satisfaction when I finished was exhilarating. I had a plan to write a chapter a day and stuck to this religiously. Some chapters took longer than others but I didn’t rush, it was so important I was completely happy. I couldn’t write everyday, some days it just wasn’t happening so leave it and walk away. Don’t leave your book for weeks and weeks, get on with it and get it done. My book took me 4 weeks from start to finish.

Five: Create the right environment for you

You need to create the right environment. As silly as it seems I wore my comfort clothes, I had my comfort food and didn’t need to be disturbed. Everything I required was at my reach. The last thing you need is to break away from your trance. You will know when your writing is good, you won’t question the flow, you will just feel completely happy with your achievement and be excited to start the next chapter.

And an extra million dollar tip

Don’t assume people understand your description; give attention to detail; imagine you’re describing to someone who is blind. Attention to detail is key and places the reader in your story.

Good luck with your own writing.
Sharon Wright

Thanks for those tips Sharon and to check out more about Sharon and her book Mother of Invention go to http://www.motherofinventionbook.co.uk/