Writer blogs and their lifetime

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Some few years ago I began my first writer blog:

http://fictionalcharacterswriting.blogspot.com. But I didn’t want to show myself– I let my characters do the talking. Sadly, the characters didn’t live up to the image of Moliére’s group above.  It was more like this on the left. womensclub

I had just published my collection of satirical short stories and I wanted a writer blog that would speak about them, but one that would stop short of marketing. In that respect I fully succeeded; I talked about all the characters, it was humorous, and it didn’t market. I doubt if I sold one copy of the book as result of that site.

But I did have fun and, it seems, this writer blog appealed to the Ukrainians who followed every post(!) The characters became real, including one with a fish phobia, another who could only operate from a chaise longue, and one who was worried about her husband lurking near, ready to snatch her back from her recent liaison. The characters took over the blog completely, writing the dialogue including blistering criticism of me, their author. They started a literary criticism group, discussing each others’ tales. That was extremely unedifying and more than a tad bitchy. Altogether, this wasn’t an author blog, it was a characters’ blog. There was even an intruder, Russell, a character from one of my as-yet incomplete novels.  It’s always good to have an outside perspective on things, isn’t it?

I have just written the final post on this blog. It’s had nearly 23,000 visitors but it’s run its course. The book, Me-Time Tales,  is in its second and expanded edition with new stories, additional characters. Kindle_Cover_opt I need to spend time writing on this blog, and on the author website (http://RosalindMinett.com) that, very belatedly, I am preparing.

I have said Goodbye today to my quirky blog giving this representation of one of mymattress characters. She was moaning that I hadn’t included the new characters from the 2nd edition so, as a swan song, I mentioned her and two others (rather miserable characters).

Now to the serious business of writing. The site you are on is straightforward if far less creative than fictionalcharacterswriting. I learned a lot while blogging on there. But I am not recommending such a time-consuming exercise to new writers or any writers, unless as an alternative to doing Codewords or Adult Colouring.

How far should we write for our own pleasure? One successful marketer, MaAnna Stephenson, has recently stated that before even writing a book she would carry out her marketing exercise: appetite for such a book, pitch, response, audience and so on.

Oh dear. We writers know what we should do but we just carry on writing the stuff in our heads. Our silly heads?

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Strengthening your writing via stimuli.

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Writing stimuli. What gave you that sudden idea that made you urgently scribble it down? It’s worth exploring.

The power of olfactory stimuli in activating memory is well known. But it’s much harder to ‘dream up’ a smell that might affect the character in your story, than it is a sound or sight.

When we’re stuck for ideas for a visual stimulus,  Art can provide perspectives, narratives, symbols to enrich our writing.  For auditory stimuli, theatre and radio present us with ideas and emotions through sound patterns, speech or music.  snuff_optThere is no equivalent for smells.

So having found the right sound or sight stimuli to cause your hero to pale with emotion how to find the right smell/scent/perfume/stink to cause emotional impact? Leave aside the obvious triggers: magnolia, blood, excrement, cabbage (who wants to write hackneyed stuff?). Will the character stop short as spinach fumes enter his/her nostrils, or candy floss?  What particular scent might have been recorded in his/her long term memory?

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You can prepare for that blank moment. How about noting down your own strong reactions to any smell, pleasant or unpleasant? List the source for each. This will make you rack your brains, and may well summon up incidents that you can use in your story. Add any smells that you already know act as powerful reminders for you – and write down why.

A scent for one person may be a stink for another. One perfume might raise very different memories for two different characters. Identifying that memory can enrich your story line. For instance, the whiff of musty clothes in a charity shop reminds Kara of a great aunt, but Debra of pass-me-downs when she was young.  The scent of aloe vera takes Anna back to the birth of her baby, but reminds Dan of a little lane in Almeria where he was set on by teenage thugs. They find themselves quarrelling . . .

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With such a list of smells, you can google them to add any interesting facts to their source and the memories they evoke for you.  Strengthen your writing with that detail that enthralls readers and brings them right into your story.

Title Optional

Struggling to find the right title?

A writer recently remarked that she had difficulty in thinking of titles. I thought I’d concoct a list for beginner writers allowing use for different genres. Let me know if you like this kind of post. It can be taken seriously or not. Who knows, one of these may spark the next novel for someone. These titles are intended for you to make your own associations (and stories). I had fun.

 

One day too long

Caught in Time

Idyll in Back Alley

Plenary Session

Forbidden Journey

Is There Hair on my Burger?  (or their hair – works as well)

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An Intricate Endeavour

It Takes Time to Jam

Black is the New Grey

They never called me Edna

Not Everyone Marries in a Cathedral

Blogging To Bliss

Entropy

 

IF YOU LIKE THIS, I CAN DO MORE. (But I should be finishing my next chapter).

Winning Writing

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This lovely image is Iranian.

I like playing Scrabble, but I’m not competitive. The challenge presented by the board in hand and the variety of options, limitations placed upon moves is sufficient. Sometimes the layout feels like an art form. It’s fun to enliven the game further by restraints such as allowing only nouns related to e.g. writing, for words of 4 letters or more. Going to an event based on competition would spoil the enjoyment completely.

It seems that the lack of competitiveness has a worthy origin.Chess_Players_of_Haft_Awrang

Chess is thought to originate in India, before the 6th century AD and then spread to Persia, pictured here.

Chess reached Southern Europe via Arabs and Muslims, and by the 15th century it had evolved into its current form.

The “Romantic Era of Chess” was characterized by swashbuckling attacks, clever combinations, brash piece sacrifices and dynamic games. Winning was secondary to winning with style and the focus was upon artistic expression. I’d loved to have been an audience then before the style changed, in the 19th century, to one of technical mastery and long-term planning.

In presenting our fiction to the world we writers are exhorted to use multiple techniques to gain sales.  Innocent days of creating the best that our talent and art form allow, end. Months of miserable media-bashing follow. What contrasting activities, what different emotions!

Reading about the origin of chess brings similarly opposite emotions to reading self-help books that teach tricks of beating algorithms or garnering a following. It’s these books themselves that sell in huge numbers, their authors then ‘teaching’ a system to all other writers on the basis of this ‘sure’ success.

How sad.  William Boyd, Anne TylerKasuo Ishiguro novels, say, may have comparable Amazon sales rankings with a very badly produced book on Twitter techniques. Even the most reputable newspapers may show best-selling books for their Top Twenty rather than a list of most highly regarded fiction.

Swashbuckling attacks on the media, clever combinations of layered promotion, technical mastewinningry of marketing ploys and long-term planning of a marketing campaign is what sells books and makes a winning writer. Thank goodness that reputable writing competitions rely on writing judges, not the amount of ‘votes’ an entrant can grab via social media. Nowadays, all of us writers are pushed into this.

I wonder whether a ‘romantic era’ for art forms will ever return.

9 points on writing edgy stories

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My second post on writing edgy short stories.

Here are some suggestions. (My previous post will add meaning to this.)

1. Write with a clear voice. Not yours, your character’s. It doesn’t have to be first person. You can write third person from the main character’s (MC) point of view. What matters is that point of view, the reader feeling sure s/he is standing in the MC’s shoes.

2.  The reader doesn’t have to like the MC. It is edgier if a sneaky liking for a character makes the reader uneasy or worse. (What sort of person must I be if I feel sympathy for this baddie I’m reading about?)

3. Short stories can’t cope with having too many characters. The edginess may depend on being in the MC’s head most of the read, so the reader has to be drawn to him/her in some way – even horror or outrage can achieve this.

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4. Dialogue has to do its job well and pithily. Every word counts; every unnecessary word detracts. A character merely saying ‘Whatever‘ can give a total feel of his/her reaction, whereas a whole sentence may not.

5.  Structure. If you are working on : 1/5 start, 3/5 middle. 1/5 end, that final fifth must hit home. Either shock the reader by reversing all his/her expectations or let your MC cross over some unacceptable line. It may ‘only’ mean stealing a child’s bike and pretending innocence. However, the ‘journey’ must be there, and it’s vital that whatever happened is some kind of shock to the system.

6.  Edginess doesn’t necessarily require extreme sexual or aggressive behaviour. Risk of some form is usually involved but an action close to home can cause the uneasiest feelings, or an everyday event suddenly appearing to have a different significance.

7.  The edgy story does not have to be crime or erotica. It can suggest something subtly sinister. It can be socially provocative. It can be funny.  It’s no longer edgy for sexual abuse to be involved, not because it’s any more acceptable, but because it’s now hackneyed as a character device.

8.   It is still edgy to nudge into those actions that would be too awkward to admit to a friend. e.g. a friendship established in the first 4/5th of the tale where we worry that this friend is about to cheat or betray. The last fifth reveals that we are wrong. The kickback is that the assumptions we made highlight our own prejudices.  Edginess must produce unease.

I hope I’ve achieved this in the first two of my Crime Shorts, A Boy with Potential and Homed. Do let me know if I have.

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A Rich Read: writers’ sudden ideas.

A SUDDEN IDEA –

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Deviant Art

What prompts a writer to suddenly write down an idea? Author – there’s a lot going on when you write.

When your idea appears ‘out-of-the-blue’ , more likely the germ of the idea lies in some unconscious association. Past experience affects the significance of something that appears novel, something just seen or heard or half-remembered.

Why notice say, the length of someone’s thumb, rather than their choice of tie? Subliminal exposure can influence kaleidoscopepreferences. Even patients with amnesia may show that someone/something is emotionally important to them, without remembering ever encountering these objects of their affection.

The reason for the significance of the idea is unconscious. But the emotional experience is conscious.

As a writer, you are just aware of ‘the good idea’ and the urge to write it down. But every scene, even the familiar surrounds of the working or home environment, holds a kaleidoscope of auditory, olfactory and visual stimuli.

At a party, Perry can’t relax because of the scent coming from the candles. It brings on some very uneasy feelings connected to – what? If only he could say why.   aroma

Jane focuses on a woman’s blue-grey dress. She doesn’t know why. She distorts its appearance later in a story. Long forgotten, Jane’s shouting aunt was wearing such a dress during a traumatic quarrel.

Derek, beside her, is irritated by the gestures of another guest. He can’t say why but worries away at the conundrum. He may dredge up the original stimulus.  If so, that is very satisfying. Catching the germ feels good even if the original stimulus was upsetting. It’s a feeling of getting things into place. catchingball

This unconscious layer of memory has a social and a survival function. To know the minds of others, (are they dangerous, are they to be trusted?) is useful, often vital. From our very early days we must attend to the available cues, whether in their verbal or nonverbal behaviour.  I remember saying something cheeky as a small child and peering at an adult to work out whether their mouth bore a smile or an annoyed grimace.

We unconsciously absorb tiny details that contain information about a person’s inner qualities; there is a kind of template against which new experiences can be tested over time. When a writer includes such detail it is recognised as significant by the reader. The reader may not know why but s/he also has this layer of awareness built up from infancy that alerts him or her to such clues.

Kulikov_Writer_E.N.Chirikov_1904 A character may be softly rubbing his eyebrow as he reads. The reader enjoys noticing this detail as a guide to that character’s reaction, and ultimately, personality. It is this kind of detail that moves a piece of writing to another level, (and is often missing from plot-driven fiction). Whether it is the writer writing it, or the reader reading it, such detail makes for what we often call a ‘rich’ read.

© Copyright 2015 Rosalind Minett

The posts on this blog are the original work of Rosalind Minett. If sharing or quoting, please credit the author.

The detail in writing fiction

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Jonathan Wolstenholme “The Collector” 2005

It is often the tiny detail that remains in the reader’s mind and catapults him into the imaginary world the writer tries to create.

I’ve used Jonathan Wolstenholme‘s painting to portray a focus on detail. Minute detail is the interest in another post featuring cross-fertilization.

The collector uses detail to identify his butterfly, the artist and dancer attend to detail to create a new perception or meaning, and the writer can produce significance and emotion through tiny touches of detail.

It was while watching the DVD of Room on the Broom with little people that this post suggested itself. In the delightful children’s book, a dog, a cat, a bird, a frog in turn ask for a place on the witch’s broom in return for finding her lost items. But the DVD adds a layer to the original. After the cat is installed, it suffers jealousy when the witch takes on new passengers. All this is conveyed silently, by a raised eyebrow or a turned-down mouth, the invention of the animator. The book is satisfying enough to the child (theme: one good turn deserves another) but with the added detail of the cat’s facial expressions, the child’s own difficulty in sharing or accepting a new sibling, is illustrated safely. An added layer is given to the story.

In an expensive perfume, it may be one drop of a rare plant essence that makes it unforgettable (perhaps irresistable).

Shaun Tan’s The Arrival,  a flowing wordless narrative about emigration, is chockful of meaningful detail. One example: leaving his country, the emigrant says goodbye to his loved ones. Tan portrays this by a close-up of the hands clasped, the next when loosened, then the fingers leaving those of the others; a tremendously evocative set of images. This is detail that resonates with the reader. Another graphic artist might have left it to the hug or sad face.

pavlovaTurning to dance,  the delicacy of Pavlova’s left arm makes this pose arresting.

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The drop of blood changes perceptions and significance in this book cover for True Blood.

In textual works, small detail can hit the heart-strings. I’ve tried to do this in Intrusion (Book 1 of A Relative Invasion). Seven-year-old Billy is on the station platform without his parents. As other evacuees are hugged goodbye, a wind from the oncoming train lifts Billy’s name tag against his face, and lets it fall again. (A moment of hope that the exodus won’t happen, thwarted.)

Kate Atkinson’s heroine in One Good Turn breaks an established routine of breakfast by eating the remains of a packet of chocolate digestives with her coffee, and on the peach sofa in the living room. This little detail implies rebellion against her absent house-proud husband.

When in Brick Lane, Nazneem, poor, in an East End flat, gives money for a charity that has touched her lover’s emotions, she gets it from a tupperware box under the sink, a telling detail.

I’ve been arbitrary in my choice of examples. Many writers boost the crises in their plot , but it’s these little details that can give satisfaction during and after the read. This often doesn’t happen with a wholly plot driven novel.

It’s like the difference between eating a large pizza, and a meat and two veg  meal. We may feel full initially but the protein makes the sense of satisfaction lasts so much longer.

Intrusion and Infiltration. Impact out in summer 2016.

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Translated fiction. Peru: a little-known aspect.

Review of Malambo by Lucía Charún-Illescas,

published by Swan Isle Press

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The Rimac river, Peru.

It is always a pleasure to hold a book with an artistic dustcover, printed on quality paper. Further, there has been insufficient translation of Latin American works into English and I admire the initiative of non-profit presses such as Swan Isle Press.

I was eager to read ‘Malambo’ because of the unusual setting of Peru in the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century. The author, an historian,  has written her first novel about a little-known theme, the way of life of those affected by the slavery, rife at that time.

Peru was central to the Spanish Inquisition. Slaves from Africa, the mainland and indigenous minority groups suffered horrific treatment. Those who survived the brutality of their treatment were priced according to their health and strength. Those ‘freed’ often found themselves in a worse position. This novel shows how slaves might save up earnings or win favours from owners to buy their freedom or that of their kin, creating families with both enslaved and free, skilled and unskilled, rural and urban folk.

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  Within the social hierarchy of the slave stratum, the black artisans had the highest rank due to their skills. They worked as carpenters, tailors, blacksmiths, swordsmiths and silversmiths. This group enjoyed more freedom than their fellows who worked at large haciendas or in private households. Spanish small-business keepers would dispatch servant-artisans to carry out a job independently and then return to their owner.  Skilled black artisans sometimes took a role of a low-ranking employee for their trades were a major avenue of social progress.

Illescas’ novel is populated with characters from different walks of life, but the main focus is upon those of African descent. An atmospheric opening reveals the significance of the river Rimac, both as a character in its own right, and in the way it divided rich from poor residences in the area. The opening introduces the best drawn character, Tomason, an ancient painter of high repute who has escaped his master yet is still bound to him at a distance. Initially he is found jut finising a work with inadequate tools to keep the master satisfied.

Thereupon, the first half of the novel’s number of characters and frequent changes of tense make for a taxing read. It is as though the people and events wash up against each other in waves, like flotsam in the river when it rises.  Early on, a missing father is found dead in it. He has briefly left his daughter, Pancha, with Tomason but when he is lost, Tomason uncomplainingly rears the girl like an honorary grandfather.

As a reference to magical thinking and the whispering myths from the culture of origin, the river gives gossip, it is listened to for information.

The many characters are used to display the fusion of races and cultures in Lima: Jews,  Christians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Creoles, negroes, mestizos and mulattoes. If a character has need there is the possibility of  ‘disappearing’ amongst negroes in Lima, who were equal in number to Peruvians. We are shown those individuals who prosper, often illegitimately, as well as those who suffer. The interchanges between individuals reflect the daily experience of servitude, abuse, diligence and deviance.

The elderly painter lives in squalor and hardship, yet retains his power and dignity.  A religious painting is awaited from him. He makes his master wait. More eagerly, he decorates the walls of his cave-like home in coal, a medium he knows will fade with time, like himself. We see that his illustrations record events, experiences, beliefs, truths. As time goes on, the painter becomes increasingly focussed on the dust in the air, how it lies around him, how the sun shines through it.

In the novel’s second half, there is more flow and pace.  The events show the difficulties, brutalities and social spirit that mark the characters’ lives.  A four poster bed is one character’s heritage, her only possession. Its removal by officers is on the basis that it is forbidden for a negro to sleep on a bed. The bed travels around town its resting place dependent upon the fortunes of its owner, its ‘acceptance’.

The reader is shown the branding sheds and methods of torture, the horrendous way in which slaves are transported and kept. A skilled negro silversmith is mistakenly believed to be a thief and is murdered in the most brutal manner.  The perpetrator is subsequently told, calmly,  that he did a bad thing.  He recognises this without apparent upset. An innocent traveller, seeking only to record the places and peoples he finds, is drugged and branded on the face. He refuses to blame the perpetrators, victims of slavery and the awful branding sheds. The female married slave forced to regularly sleep with her master is beaten into disability to appease the master’s wife, but continues to work and sleep as required. Illescu relates all such very violent events unemotionally. It is as though such acts were so commonplace that they are passively accepted if not condoned. And so the negroes submitted to their fate.

When the innocent traveller is lost, he is told the land lies between the river on one side and the mountain on the other.  Malambo is that place, between two potential powers, conveniently near to Lima but far enough for secrets to be held there. Power lies on one side of the Rincon, hardship on the other.

Along the river’s path, Pancha seeks the truth of her father’s death.  Her first foray from Malambo is described like a coming of age. Tomason wonders if the travelling bed will find acceptance. Pancha’s ‘finding her path home’ after her search is also used symbolically, and will end in marriage.

There are passages that have beauty and spark associations in the reader’s mind, such as the intrusion of myth, mostly Yorumba, the main character’s homeland.

As for criticism, I found the dialogue jerky and no guide to characterisation. One character spoke much like another, giving background and essential information in an artificial manner. The dialogue did not convince or lift the narrative. The manner of changing tense within the same paragraph did disconcert me and I was conscious of a struggle between my reading of the author’s intent and the translation of it. The reader needs to know if s/he is ‘in the moment’ or looking back upon it.

It is always important to hold separate the skill of the writer from that of the translator. I believe that when a novel is translated, it should represent the strength of the description such that the reader’s ignorance of the original language is not a problem. I was not sure that the translator managed this task. There were several instances of inelegance: a discrete/discreet confusion, ‘wind’ as a verb and as a noun in the same sentence obliterating the meaning, and occasional sentence construction that did not reflect naturalistic English.

In conclusion, I would recommend this novel because of its insight into a world little-known and the importance of recognising the African heritage within Peru. However, Illescas is more a historian than a novelist. If this story had been told from the point of view of Tomason, or even alternating between him and Altagracia, the injured woman, the reader would have had more emotional investment in the tale. As it stands, the work is of more historical than literary importance, but an interesting read for all that.

In December 2013 the Huffington Post presented an article about the inequalities in obtaining clean water in Peru. It seems that your fate and fortune is determined by the side of the river you come from.

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Local residents of the shantytown (characterised as Malambo in the novel) pay 3.22 dollars per cubic metre of water, compared to just 45 cents paid by those a few blocks away in Rinconada del Lago, one of Lima’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

Not a planner – a pantser.

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Do you know how you will plan your novel? On March 8th, I was invited onto Jane Bwye’s blog where I disclosed that I am not a planner, I am a pantser.

It seems there are two kinds of writers: those who plan, and those who write on the seat of their pants. I would love to write the synopsis, theme, backgrounds of each character, main events of each chapter, before I ever begin but that just won’t work for me. I don’t even know what kind of characters will pop up, which will prove to be major and even where the setting of dramatic scenes will be.

Despite the discipline of degrees and diplomas and a Ph.D. I’m not just a dyed-in-the-wool, but an irrevocably skin-stained, bone-irradiated, ingrained irredemiable pantser.

A small germ, such as a stray phrase or incident, visits me. I follow it; it turns into a chapter or a theme. When I start writing, a novel, more often than a short story, begins. When I get to the end of one chapter, I know what has to happen in the next but not further. As I struggle to find exactly the right word something often emerges that enriches or expands the plot, becomes a sub-plot or develops one of the characters.

That’s when the novel outline falls into place. I usually know the ending before I get halfway. Then it’s a matter of laying out the remaining ground, including character backgrounds, toward reaching that end.

All my fiction has one thing in common (as well as their manner of creation) — they are character-led. I can’t write any other way.

No great plan. But something gradually emerging. Emerging picture

Here’s an example of my writing process. A Relative Invasion is a trilogy set in the Home Front of WWII.  It all began with one tiny thread. An elderly man chatting to me mentioned that he had been the last child to be ‘chosen’ by the villagers where his school had been evacuated. The children had been walked around the village in a crocodile. This man had been a tall seven-year-old, (‘He’ll cost a bit to feed and clothe’) and was only taken in reluctantly.

I thought, children must have been so resilient at that time. And so Billy was born, a sturdy well-meaning boy. But he was only aged five in 1937, and so I found myself writing historical fiction (with all the research that entails). The key figure at that time was, of course, Hitler, and his rise to power came as result of German resentment , humiliation and envy after the end of WWI.

Somehow, a cousin for Billy surfaced, one who would experience these negative emotions and turn them into psychological bullying to make Billy’s life a misery. However, this Kenneth would have undoubted talents and would need to be charismatic for the adults to be blind to the bullying. I made him artistic and physically frail.???????????????????????????????????????

Now I had a theme for my novel whereby the feelings and tensions in Europe (macro scale) would be mirrored in micro by this family, and particularly the two cousins in their developing rivalry.

Billy needed a secret symbol of power to support him.  I hit upon a Cossack sabre, that then needed a background story of its own. This led me into Russian/ Germanic conflict at the start of WWI. And the sabre icon would need to filter through to a conclusion.

I am not recommending this approach to writing, just saying that novels can emerge bit by bit as the narrative continues, and in this case, it was a trilogy that emerged.

Are you are writer? Consider which kind you are.

Stuck with your fiction writing?

Getting un-stuck. There are times when writers need to refresh.

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You need help in getting un-stuck? The novel had been going well but suddenly writing comes to a halt. Either you keep taking too many breaks, or find yourself re-doing the same section, or you sit staring at the screen knowing your narrative palls.

The problem?

Your ideas are going round and round the same path. You need different mental associations to move things along. Your brain needs oxygen, your body needs movement.

Here is a suggested ploy for unsticking yourself. If the points below don’t resonate with you, read my example.

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Stuck in slow motion
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Leave the garage behind. Full speed ahead.

 

ACTION

1.  Take a mental refresher, not a writing break.

Read any non-fiction article on any subject. Pick out one item or aspect of interest.  Let it run through your thoughts.

2.  Refresh your creative intake.

You can’t give out all of the time, you have to take in as well. Look at any piece of art work.  You can do this online. Not many people have a gallery conveniently around the corner. Look at the work carefully. Focus on one detail. Let that stay in your immediate visual memory.

3.  Take some form of exercise straight away.

Writers spend too much time sitting still. . You don’t need to visit the gym; a swim or brisk walk of half an hour may be sufficient, even an exercise routine in a different room.  Think of your physical sensations, muscles aching, feet pounding etc.

4.  Ignore the sticking point in your story.

Try to put that out of your mind for the moment. The idea that resonated with you in the non-fiction article; how could that bear upon some aspect of your narrative?

NOW Return to your desk. Take one of your characters and think how you might write about that detail in the art work, how it might illuminate his/her appearance or behaviour.

Where can your story comes utilise the above visual and intellectual stimuli? Write a quick first draft while the ideas are fresh.

If this drafting activity has taken over an hour, have your next meal and then go back to the part where you were stuck.

Cynical? Try it. Here’s an example, for illustration only.

Attractive Woman with Her Books

EXAMPLE

Reading: Alain de Boton –  What is a beautiful building? How does someone think about his home, streets or business building? (The Architecture of Happiness). Possible ideas coming from this: the effect of certain buildings in upon one or more of your characters; how the choice of furnishings increases the tensions between two characters;  how the architecture in your characters’  town helps set the tone of your novel.

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Art:         A painting.  (Georges de la Tour) Detail – one hand of one figure. The delicate way that hand describes an emotion. Use that description for ‘painting’ one of your characters in a dramatic scene. i.e. one character, under duresse, notices the hand of another and that description shows the reader some of the emotion present.

Whatever else, the above will be more productive than staring miserably at the screen or chatting on Facebook about how you are stuck.

Good luck and keep writing.

© Copyright 2015 Rosalind Minett