Monthly Archives: June 2012

Once Upon A Time (Yesterday)…

So I wrote a children’s story yesterday.

Pfft, you think you’re surprised.

I really don’t know how children’s stories did not appear on my priorities list.  I really don’t.  It seems so logical now that I think about it.  I like small projects.  I like rhyming.  And I actually rather like children’s poetry and picture books.  I don’t read them when I’m by myself or anything, but when I have the opportunity to read to children I can’t say I don’t enjoy it.  Though, saying that, I did read Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson by myself today and laughed out loud.

It definitely stems from childhood.  My mum is normally an introvert but has always been big on audience inclusion.  She has turned me into a person with absolutely no inhibitions at pantomimes.  I, “He’s behind you!” and, “Oh, yes she did!” with the best of them when all the grown adults around me seem to be wildly out of their comfort zones.

She is also a huge fan of reading children’s books aloud.  It even happened today when I brought a draft of my story downstairs for her to look at.  I didn’t even ask her to do it.  I think she’s actually suffering from withdrawal because my brother’s growing out of it and she’s basically waiting on me to procreate a fresh audience for her.

It’s true that parents need to read to their children.  My mum loves to be dramatic and expressive and animated when she reads.  She always made childhood reading interesting and fun, and now in adulthood I read aloud with the same enthusiasm.  They say narrative voice is important when an author writes a story.  Well when I wrote yesterday, that’s what I heard: my mum’s storytelling voice.

So many people are bashful about it.  They mumble and talk in a monotone and get all self-conscious.  Don’t.  Be like my mum and me and learn to just laugh at yourself a bit.  Because if you do it right – really drop your inhibitions and go for it – you can fuel an interest in the written word for the rest of your children’s lives.

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It’s Tekken Me Back

Kids, (my apologies, I’ve watched so many How I Met Your Mothers I’m beginning to think this is the only way to introduce anything) one thing I have neglected to mention to you thus far is that I used to be a humungous Tekken fan.  Tekken 3 was the first demo I ever had that came by itself, rather than in a collection, and it held my ten-year-old brain utterly transfixed.  There I’d sit, endlessly using Eddy Gordo to whomp Paul Phoenix and Forrest Law, resolving to one day purchase it and both of its predecessors and complete the hell out of them.

I took up Taekwondo to be like Hwoarang and am fairly sure the fact that channelling electricity is my desired superpower is attributable to Jin Kazama.  To this day I have the magazine I scored from a kid at primary school showing the connections between all the characters up to Tekken 3.  I cherished it.  It was a soap opera for a tomboy less bothered about who was sleeping with whose mother as much as which entity had consumed whose mother’s soul.

You know, real freakin’ problems.  God.

During my degree I was like, “I could study South Korea. Hwoarang’s from South Korea.” No joke.

Granted, over time my interest dwindled.  I settled into nonchalance when the series suddenly decided the Devil Gene was actually passed down from Jin’s great-grandfather when initially it had been the result of his father’s pact with the (apparently Vimto-flavoured) devil.  I had rolled my eyes when the series created hype around the secret identity of Steve Fox’s dad and then completely forgot to follow it up at all.  I only bought Tekken 6 out of a sense of loyalty to a series which had given me so much enjoyment in the past.  Regardless of how much crack the writers had snorted since then.

“Could we get him in Irn Bru?”

Over the last couple of days, however, I’ve been growing attached to the series again.  I like its simplicity and its campy undertones.  I like hitting things.  I like dressing up totally ripped people in silly hats and staring in laughing bewilderment as I am confronted by random groups of topless miners like I’ve stumbled across an underground gay bar.  I enjoy being weirded out by Unknown wearing only purple goo like a victim of Ivan Ooze in the Power Rangers Movie whilst looking suspiciously – oh, so very suspiciously – like Shannen Doherty.

Jun’s sister, my arse! I mean, look! Is it just me?! Surely it isn’t just me.

It’s soothing somehow, this childhood relic of flashy moves and pretty people.  And it’s made me remember something: I love big casts.  I love them.  I loved Heroes and X-Men and Battlestar Galactica.  I love the edge of absurdity it touches that one simply cannot easily get away with using only a couple of protagonists.  Stupidity and disconnected sagas and cheesy revenge motives.  There just aren’t enough of them around anymore.

And, right now, I’ll admit… I really want to make my own…


The Michael Bay Treatment

So sorry I’m late with this update!  My internet wasn’t working yesterday.  And by that I mean I was hung over after a Blink-182 concert.

But anyway, good news!  It’s fine!  I’ve got it!  I figured it out!

You will recall I tried to palm you off with some audience participation last week.  Well, that’s because I was stuck.  Really stuck.  Super, super stuck.

And then three things happened.

Firstly, about a week ago, I was reading a few more tips from Melissa Donovan’s book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises (Adventures in Writing) on my Kindle and came across an interesting point she made about using plot formulae.  She demonstrated how several stories follow the same basic plot formula, but it’s not a problem because their execution is very different.  This got me to actually strip my story down to its barest bones to work out which basic formula I was unconsciously following.  I found three underlying plots all fighting for prevalence.  Overcomplicating it much?

Secondly, on Monday morning I stumbled across Eyes Wide Open by Gotye and immediately added it to my story playlist.  In my head I have a habit of making trailers or montages for my stories and that song is just the song to use for such a purpose.  It got me thinking about how damn interesting my story feels in that format, yet how far I seem to be from that image.  I’ve been struggling to find scenes I want to write or, indeed, that would appear in that montage at all.  That is definitely a bad sign.

Finally, I’ve found myself seeking out some action movies lately.  So there I sat a couple of nights ago, watching the latest Star Trek movie, observing the progression from one peril to another…

And then – then  – it hit me.  I’ve been genre jumping.

You see, I’ve been trying to coin this as an epic, so I’ve attempted to make it complex.  But to give my character an internal struggle it took on an element of self-discovery.  Then I tried to cram it with twists and turns, and it became a mystery.  Since my main character is a cop, and a murder needed investigating, it started to teeter on the edge of crime.  So I suddenly had a three plot-line crime-mystery-drama-epic of self-discovery (set in an alternate reality) so entrenched in fact-finding that my lead character seemed to be spending half her time in different poses on a chair in a police records department.

And then I realised: it’s action adventure!  I’m meant to be writing a bloody action adventure!

Time, methinks, for the Michael Bay treatment.  Less gum-flapping.  More kaboom.


Audience Participation Time!

Behold, readers.  This is better than a post.  It is an opportunity to torment me.

This week I’ve been feeling a touch low about writing and a bit unsure of my plot, so I want to get away from my novel for a few days and just write – maybe, heaven forbid, complete ­­– a piece of short fiction.

That’s where you guys come in!  Give me a genre, setting, object and/or character trait and I shall get cracking.  Seriously, I don’t care whether your ideas are mundane or completely off the wall.  No-one who talks to themselves as much as I do can judge you for weirdness.

Ready?  Go!