Category Archives: Updates

Oh, My Stars: I Have A Plot

Ordinarily I walk through life being informed, fairly regularly, that I have lost the plot.

I accept this but politely correct them by pointing out that one cannot lose something one never had in the first place.

But, alas! (Side note: I’d love to wander about in public just shouting, “Alas!” at random moments, without actually following it up with anything else.). Last night, I gave my first thought in quite a while to my novel and sat down with my Wunderlist app to try to hash out the plot from start to finish.

And I did it.

No pauses. No regarding a gap awkwardly and muttering, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” I actually wrote my entire plot out, in its entirety. Like, entirely. All of it.

Not to mention, I’ve written a good chunk of it in rough – more than I thought I had – so I can now hash out a whole first draft without any more hiccoughs.

So happy!


I Am A Very Bad Blogger

I can do little but apologise for all this tardiness. I have been highly neglectful, but I’ve been rather busy in other areas of life.

I have two more articles up now, and many more are pending. Check them out if you have time (one was an Easter What’s On and the other is about beauty tips) because we’re after as many views, Likes and Tweets as we can get!

In other news, I am putting together two new blogs. One is just an overall portfolio of my work, because a blog seems like the best way to show folks what I’m producing. The other… Well, the other you’ll find out about when I’m ready to start posting. I’ve got a couple of articles written for it, but I want a healthy backlog for those weeks when life just gets in the way. Suffice to say, I hope all of you enjoy reading it when it goes up.

Other than that, I’m also attending a new writing group. It’s not a group to write with so much as a group to share writing experiences, and so far it’s been a brilliant networking experience. It’s nice to have something advisory rather than something creative, too – I have enough on my plate at the moment without too many extra stories!

What else has happened? I’m starting to write something for the Harry Bowler writing competition. It’s for first time writers in the UK, and the objective is to send them the first chapter of a novel. Doesn’t matter what the novel’s about. There’s only one condition: it has to be set in a specific city. Any city, I assume, as long as it actually exists in the real world. Naturally my first choice is Sheffield. I lived there for three years, after all, and know it fairly well. The only question is, what will the plot be?

It means putting my other novel on the back burner for a time, but I reckon it’s worth it for the chance of being published.

Speaking of the back burner, I’ve also put my current novel down in favour of writing a review for work. I won’t tell you what I’m reviewing yet, but I’ll let you know when it’s on the website. The book I’ve been reading, though, is another of my dusty paperbacks: Out by Natsuo Kirino. It’s a pretty sweet read so far, but we’ll see how it pans out when I get half a chance to read the rest of it.

Wow, I had more to say than I thought! Better get a move on, though: this article it’s going to write itself!

 


Published.

Hi everyone. Sorry for taking so long to update this week. I was just waiting to show you this.

All the smiles for Laura.

I. Am. Published.


The Verdict…

Time to find out how well I did reaching my target.

And now to explain why I have to work this out.  Well, you see, as soon as I went away for the weekend, I realised I would be writing the fruits of this challenge on Evernote and that Evernote doesn’t have a word count function.

Immediately upon discovering this, however, I realised it was actually quite a blessing.  It made me paranoid that I might overestimate how much I was writing, and therefore not hit my 5,000 word target because I was prematurely resting on my laurels.  The result of this was a huge case of pre-emptive overcompensation to make sure I wouldn’t fall short.

So, what’s the verdict?

At this point, I’d like you to imagine a supercomputer making what the ’70s understood to be computer calculation noises.  For those who are struggling, it sounds like the noise wind chimes would make if they bleeped rather than chimed.  Wind bleeps, you might say.

Anyway, here it is!  Computer says…

It's... not actually over 9,000...

7773 words.  In eight days.

Wow.  I may not have reached 10,000, but I actually doubled my normal work output.  In fact, I achieved my 5,000 word target in just one weekend, look!  And, to be fair, you can only produce so much twaddle before you have to stop and organise the twaddle you already have.  Then you can work out where you are twaddle-deficient and fill in the gaps with adequate levels of additional twaddle.

So, now it’s time to put all this stuff in the folder and start thinking about what needs doing next.

And award myself the sapphire relic, of course.  Nice job, methinks.

Also, determined to read May Contain Nuts before March arrived, I blasted through several chapters last night and am proud to say I have completed it.  Another novel down!  Now to find a shiny new book to read…


Five Triple-Oh

I just spent all week slamming plot points onto PowerPoint slides and reshuffling them, attempting to climb out of the plot-related rut in which I’ve found myself.  As a result, I am glad to say the second and final acts have finally fallen right into place.

The first act is still very fuzzy and uncertain, but I doubt it’s going to right itself – or, indeed, write itself – with any amount of further planning at this stage.  It’s reached that point where you’ve just got to scribble out reams of total garbage, then empty the bin and assess which bits can be used for junk modelling.

Therefore, this week I have decided: it is time for a big push forwards.  Over the course of the coming week, I am going to write at least 5,000 words.

That is a fairly high word count for me.  Anyone who recalls some of my old graphs will recall that I tend to write around 600 words per day.  On a roll I’ll pass the 1,000 mark but, at the end of the day, rolling isn’t going to win me the hundred metre sprint.  (I am pleased with that quote.)  I’ll have to be disciplined to make this work, especially with my shockingly limited progress lately.

Still, if I hit the ground running, 5,000 might not be quite enough.  It seems wrong not to drive myself to reach for the stars and see how far I get.  You don’t know if you don’t try, right?

To tackle this issue, I’ll take a leaf from the proverbial book of fellow blogger Jim Franklin, who set out his 2013 year targets as Xbox achievements to complete.  Instead of these, however, I think I’ll give this task a Crash Team Racing theme.

For anyone too young, old or deprived of life meaning to know what I’m talking about, I am referencing the time trial relic races on the Crash Bandicoot racing game, which still stands as one of the best games ever made.  If you haven’t played it, I demand that you buy it for your Playstation 3.  And if you don’t own a Playstation 3, I demand that you buy a Playstation 3 exclusively to have bestowed upon you the honour of having played this game.  Even Chandler and Joey played this game – true story.  So:

 Sapphire relic:
5,000 words

Gold relic:
10,000 words

Platinum relic:
15,000 words

On your marks.  Get set.  Go.


Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Christmas Story

Good news!

I finished the Christmas Carol story! Somehow it totals over three thousand words, blurted out onto my iPad at various opportune moments and filled in where necessary two days before I took it to the group today. I’m sure I’ll pick up problems once I’ve given it a bit of space, but I’m actually very proud of what I’ve done.

I can hardly believe it was completed so sporadically over the course of this month. Most of the time I just glared at it fruitlessly. It feels like I only granted it my full undivided attention five or six times. Yet, in spite of all of this, it fits together cohesively. I love my characters, I love the way the plot unfolds and that all the things I wanted to include were included. A job well done. It even won the Christmas competition!

Having said that, though… I’m free. Free, I tells ya! Free to write other fiction, including my novel. The Christmas story was hanging over me so much I didn’t dare to so much as open the file. Time to get back to my main focus this year.

Watch this space.


One Month In; Two Books Down

Right.  I finished both Idoru and Miranda Hart’s first literary romp, Is It Just Me? this week. This may sound like I am a powerhouse of reading, but the truth is that I burned through at least half of Miranda’s book over a couple of days during the Christmas season.  It had been bought for me and I didn’t have Gibson’s to hand to finish first before starting it.  That’s right, I have been polyamorous with my books.  Polyliterate, if you will.

It was a good book, but has been something of a bad influence.  There are now just too many new ways to wreak havoc now.  I am quite competent at being insane by myself without help, ideas, a role model or instructions to go about being insane in public.  Soon the mental hospitals of the world will be filled with Mirandites, mistakenly picked up by people in white coats for galloping in art galleries and hiding in the stationery cupboard.

So!  What’s a girl to read next?  I’m a bit sci-fied out right now, if I’m honest.  I’m also somewhat serioused out after Miranda’s incredibly dark exploration of the psyche.  Looking at my predominantly sci-fi and/or serious collection, I have decided to opt for May Contain Nuts by John O’Farrell.  It’s a funny look at extremely over the top middle class parenting, and it’s already made me giggle to myself one chapter in.  Teach me the ways of comedic timing, John!

Meanwhile, next week I am starting my internship and going to a meeting of journalists for a local paper.  This makes May Contain Nuts my very first commuting book.  Oh yes.  How professional of me.  Just have to hammer out that accursed Christmas story before my articles take up all of my attention.

Good news, though.  I have concocted the characters on the other side of the door to my carol singers…


I Didn’t Think Carol Singers Would Be This Much Trouble

But evidently I was wrong.  This Christmas story entry, for anyone who doesn’t know, has to be about carol singers.  A month after receiving this assignment, I have largely accepted that it has thrown me for a loop.

I think I’ve finally figured out why, too.  I mean, the humour aspect tripped me up initially.  I had set myself on the idea of something nostalgic and kind of bittersweet as a theme and only discovered the comedy component to the competition after I’d started writing.  I actually quite like my first attempt and, not being of the mindset to force a square peg into a round hole, have decided to finish that story as a separate project and think up something fresh for the competition.  You know, something which is a bit more built for purpose.

I’ve done that now.  Go, me.  But the real headache factor to this story is twofold.

Firstly, there’s the whole issue of the singing.  Yes, I know, singing is a necessary evil when writing about carol singers.  You can’t exactly not mention it.  It would be like writing about an artist and not mentioning pictures or omitting golf courses from a story about golfing.

But singing is a bit different, isn’t it?  Other character pastimes and professions just involve a bit of research and throwing around some well-placed jargon.  By contrast singing, of any description in storytelling, appears to involve spontaneously breaking into italics and defacing good prose with random sections of out-of-place verse to which the reader may or may not know a corresponding tune.

I’ll tell you what it is.  It’s like a musical.  A prose-based musical.  And I’ve never really been a musicals fan.  The closest I’ve gotten to a favourite musical is probably the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  For real.  I just find the whole practice of bursting into highly choreographed singing and dancing a bit… uncomfortable.  I’m inclined to feel the same way about it onscreen as I would in real life: that perhaps I should call a police community support officer to check your pupils, breathalyse you and escort you home.

So, back to my point, how does one present singing in a story in a manner which doesn’t bring back horrifying memories of song fanfiction?  Everything about trying to drop a song into a piece of fiction comes off like it’s been shoehorned in.  Not to mention the corresponding What I Call Miranda Hart Syndrome.  I mean, when do you stop?  Is two lines enough or do we shoot for a whole verse?  Do you throw in the chorus?  Go for the whole twenty verse extended album version?

Can you just cherry-pick the bits which apply to a character’s subconscious or are international treaties forged on preventing such shows of blinding cheesiness?  It all sounds frightfully close to corny, and Christmas carols already flirt with that old chestnut as it is.

Secondly there’s the door to door thing.  It makes the plot kind of bitty if you’re working from the point of view of the carol singers – which I am.  One house, then another, then another.  It’ll take some serious thought to avoid the story becoming too repetitive, the main danger being distributing the characters and events too evenly.  I think the trick to it will be not to focus on anyone but the most exceptional residents and try to make the story as much about the antics of the carol singers between their visits as possible.

I’m getting to grips with it, slowly.  I actually really like my idea, to be honest.  The problem is, as always, execution.

And, with that, I wish all of you a jolly good week, full of words which are spoken, not sung, and journeys unhindered by surprise bouts of back-up dancing.


Old Year’s End

Good grief! It’s Sunday! Sorry folks, the Christmas festivities, for one reason and another, have actually extended this late and sort of made all the days bleed together into one long episode of festiveness.

However, now I am returned, and, in honour of my new iPad technology (courtesy of Christmas), I am using it to write this entire post. Which may or may not turn out to be a tad slower than the usual process, but I’ll have to assess that at the end. Right now it’s not going half badly: I’m watching Blackadder at the same time, for a start.

Anyway! To the subject of this post: New Year’s resolutions. It’s hardly an original topic to the average reader, I’m sure, but to me it actually is an unusual occurrence. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions typically. In fact, for the last few years, my New Year’s resolution, when asked, has been not to make any resolutions. This year, though, I’ve lots to be resolute about and am unusually enthusiastic to make some life changes and stick to them. This is why resolutions should be rare, see? You can’t get to be sceptical with yourself so quickly when you aren’t breaking them annually!

So, here we go. My resolutions for 2013:

1. Give 200% to this internship. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m going to give it my all.

2. Finish the book I started last term at college. It’s a damn good idea and there is utterly no reason why I shouldn’t finish it this year.

3. Start an exercise regime and improve my diet. Time to get physically active, tone up and eat better. I might learn to meditate, too. Bring on the health kick.

4. Read at least one book per month. The last couple of months have allowed me to get back into reading (thank you, long train journey to Bath…) and I really want to keep it up, get to know more authors and acquire some more influences on my own writing style.

5. Learn to drive. I’m almost there technically. It’s time to think about my tests and finally start operating a vehicle without supervision. My menace rating could skyrocket to a proud and hardy twelve out of ten when I pass. Every girl’s dream…

So, 2012 is almost over and I’m soon to find myself another year into my golden decade of twentysomething-ness. Time to embrace being a grown-up! And, hey, this iPad posting is working out pretty darn well thus far!


The End of the Wor…king Week

Christmas is a time of love and niceness and other such clichés, so I am not going to make any barbs about the Mayan calendar.  Other than the title of this post.

I am sure you will all continue to sense an underlying garnish of sarcasm to my words but that is because I am British.  I can’t help it; I was born this way.  In fact, I maintain that all British people should have a sticker on their cars featuring a man with a pointy tongue spitting acid so that everybody knows a permanent sardonic tone is actually a social impairment which cannot be turned off.  But I digress.

So, in order to demonstrate some Christmas goodwill, I am going to talk to you about something which had really happened to me by the end of the working week.  That’s right: I am attempting to retract the jab in the title.  No catch.  So, here it is.  Enjoy it; it will probably never happen again:

What’s happened is that the dentist and I have pooled our wisdom and concluded my wisdom should be removed.  Wisdom tooth, that is.  As of two days ago, my first new chomper in over ten years has gone rogue and is now digging quite unpleasantly into my jaw muscle because there is no room at the metaphorical inn that is my gum.  Until its highly anticipated exile from my mouth, this enamel treachery has resulted in three dire consequences:

  1. I am now on two lots of antibiotics, one of which apparently gifts me with a spectacularly violent adverse reaction to even a drop of alcohol.  As such, I cannot break into my box of chocolate liqueurs or my birthday box of whiskies for at least another week.
  2. Conveniently, the limit to my jaw movement is just enough that I can no longer eat a Ferrero Rocher, my staple Christmas chocolate.  Late this morning, I had to actually take out a knife and cut one in half in order to make it manageable for me to eat.  It was truly a pitiful affair.
  3. The meds intermittently render my brain a squishy ball of cotton wool whilst the pain itself has nested like a warm nagging hedgehog in my left ear.

All of these problems, of course, pale in comparison to the procedure itself, which I am sure will be awash with tie-dye kittens and candy-flavoured flowers and gingerbread houses with free Wi-Fi.

Still, I have five hundred words of my Christmas carol story now on paper.  One good thing.  I fear it has deviated from the original plan insofar that I appear to have forgotten the ‘carol’ part of the task but, hey, at least it has words in it now.  Turns out I do actually have four bits and pieces to produce for the group, too, but I have until 24th January to pull it all together.  Tons of time.

Oh, wait.  Says here the Christmas thing is meant to actually make people laugh.

…Interesting.  I’ll, uh…  I’ll have to work something out for that.

Anyway!  Merry Christmas, one and all!  Drink your beverages and munch your chocolate, and think of me with my Diet Coke and pots of strawberry jelly.