First a catch-up on various happenings during November.
- I didn’t manage to complete NaNoWriMo 😦 Once again, life got in the way and I wasn’t able to keep up to the 1,666 words a day. But, on the plus side, it did get me back to a project that I had stopped in the summer. The break has done me good and I’ve been able to get going again, with enthusiasm. I’m hoping to complete this project – the sequel to my previous novel – by Easter.
- I went to the book launch of the friends I mentioned last month – Jack Bold’s QUOTA. Brian and Jackie are long-time members of our local writing group here in south Hertfordshire so they were very much at home amongst writing friends. They recounted how the idea for their novel came from one of the flash fiction competitions held regular by the group. They talked about the ups and downs of collaborating; the editing process; choosing covers and marketing their book. And they read a couple of extracts from the book. Their talk – and book – were well received and it has given them confidence in going forward with other marketing evenings. Their book is on sale on here
- I’ve booked a week’s writing retreat for next year at the end of March. I think we all like something to look forward to, particularly in these dark, winter days. So I took the plunge and signed up at a place in North Devon. A writing friend went there two years ago and loved it. You get your own room with a desk. Three meals a day are all catered for so you don’t have to think about shopping or cooking. And you can be as sociable, or not, as you want. I’m looking forward to it already and I’ll report back in April.
Writing advice: I faced a dilemma this week which got me thinking writing-wise!
I’ve recently been going down to a local swimming pool early each morning, hoping to avoid the rush. One morning, there was just one person in the pool so I had the choice of all the lanes. Should I choose fast, slow or “other”? I was tempted by the fast lane but I knew as soon as I got going, some fit, young, lithe and very fast male would be getting in my way!
So I chose the slow lane and then comfortably fitted around the other two people who eventually joined me. Yes, the fast, young…… male did turn up and proceeded to splash us all from the fast lane!
But it made me wonder about the use of the terms slow and fast. In comparison to what? If Ian Thorpe were to choose to swim slowly, he’d still be a hundred times faster than me.
If you describe something in your writing as beautiful, remember that is a totally subjective word ie it means something to the person (or character) who’s writing but possibly not the same to the reader. Instead of using such a word, why not try to describe what makes that person beautiful eg their smile, the light in their eyes, their caring attitude. Note I didn’t mention hair, lips, bone structure, makeup or figure – that sort of beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder!
Similarly with comparative adjectives and adverbs. An elderly person might well be moving more slowly than a younger adult but probably at a similar speed to a toddler. One exam question might be hard for one pupil but easy for another. It will very much depend on the circumstances of your character and how they relate to the other characters or events around them.
Prompts: Write your Christmas/winter/snow stories now and keep them for next year’s competitions.
- Snowed in – think of what this means to you and then use some of those ideas, images and thoughts in a 400-word story.
- Write a story for children, involving a Christmas tree with no presents.
Another story for children – written from a penguin’s point of view.
- A Family Christmas – emotions run high, there’s an argument but something happens to make it all right. A 600-word story.
- Homeless at Christmas – what do they have to look forward to on Christmas Day
- A shopping centre at Christmastime from the point of view of
(a) a Christmas elf
(b) a person with lots of money and
(c) a shop assistant catching a shoplifter.
Start your story with dialogue.
- A poem about snowflakes.
Tips: I thought I’d pass on some Google tips from the company that looks after my computer. They send me regular emails about safety, viruses, hacks, backing up and all the things we know we should be doing! These aren’t necessarily writing-related but I just thought they could be helpful.
- If you receive a phone call from a number you are not sure about, you can type the full number into Google and it will display the name and address associated with that number.
- You can use the Google search engine as a calculator: type in the maths problem (eg 567*45) and when you press the return key, the answer will be top of the list.
(* for multiplication and / for division)
- You can even track airline flights. Simply enter the airline and flight number to display the status of an airline and its arrival time.
I hope you all have a most enjoyable festive time and that you receive some really good “writing” gifts – we writers can never have too many notebooks!
And if you have a spare ten minutes in between all the activities, why not start thinking of your Writing Resolutions for 2018? I’ll have some ideas for you next month.