What is the next thing I can do?

I have a hypothetical scenario for you:  You have an event coming up in your life relating to your chosen passion.  It’s just around the corner and you’re hugely excited.  This is it, this could be the making of an incredible new life and it’s almost here!

You dream of people flocking to your door wanting to know who you are and can we have some more please.  That sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Then the event happens and reality gives you a rather unwarranted (well, it may seem that way) kick up the backside as you realise you haven’t hit the big time.  Okay maybe you sold a few books/paintings/photographs, but you are still sat at home and your phone/email is as quiet as it used to be.  Now what?

Wind back to just before the event.  If you have some free time dedicate it to answering these questions; ‘what if this doesn’t launch my career?’ and ‘What is the next thing I can do to get people to notice me?’

After the event there is a possibility you could disappear into a funk because after all your hard work, nothing happened.  Setting time aside beforehand will help prepare you if it didn’t go to plan.

So after being absent from my blog for quite a while you are probably wondering, why this and why now?  I have a secret.  I have been getting into photography in the last few months.  Next week (19-23 August) I will be taking part in an exhibition in London.  I’m really excited and nervous about it.  It could be great or it could be a damp squib.  Here’s hoping for the former.  If it is the latter, I need to be better prepared than I am now.

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Editing Lesson No.1

Every single character must have a profile.

First I’ll give you a little bit of background to ‘Unit 16’. A couple of years ago, not long after I first started writing, I wrote a short scene.  Perhaps I should explain, I get ideas/scenes and need to get them down. Most of the time I don’t do anything with them but occasionally I do.

I liked what I had come up with and had always planned to take it further.  Two years later, I did.  This scene became the prologue for ‘Unit 16’.

When I wrote the piece it was exactly as I imagined in my head.  Which is fine, until you make a story from it.  Because the characters were not fleshed out I spent some time addressing that.  Except for one of them.

This particular character dies on page one of the prologue.  I thought to myself, why does he need a profile?  He doesn’t live beyond the first couple of paragraphs, it’ll be a waste of time. That would have been fine if he didn’t have any influence on the rest of the story.  He does.

That led to the minor (ish) crisis that was the subject of last week’s blog.  Fumdamental questions were not asked; Who is this guy?  What does he do?  Why is he about to be killed?

Answering those questions is what I’ve been trying to achieve last week.  Unravelling this character has helped pin down the time period of the prologue.  Having thought long and hard about it it looks like I can potentially keep the year as it is but possibly change locations.  It feels such a relief that I can essentially keep things as they are!

Plot Holes

How I wish I had the literary equivalent of a plaster which I could apply to any plot hole to cover them up.  Alas there is no such thing which leaves me the difficult task of correcting the error.

Plot holes are fine and dandy when they are small but when they look like they could scupper the entire story, then you have a problem.  That’s what I’m facing now and I’m not finished editing the Prologue yet!

For some reason I decided to peg my story in the real world.  Okay, so its a fictional story but what surrounds it is real.  The problem comes when reality doesn’t quite match up with what you have in your head.

The best way to get around it is to do more research until you find firmer ground.  In the last couple of days I have been lucky enough to find some, however, it is nebulous at the moment.  For one thing it brings the prologue forward by five years.  The second issue revolves around the location.  The world can change a lot in five years.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, after all the next firm ground occurs a further seventeen years into the future.  Picking that would incur a whole host of problems (aka re-writes).  I have already come to the conclusion that the more I edit, the more I have to learn.

 

 

Photo from shutterstock.com

Guilt, Or when you know you haven’t done enough

“I really admire your ability to write so much every day.  I know I couldn’t do that/ I don’t have the time/ I wish I could do that…”

How many times have I heard the different variations of that and thought, I’ve not done as much as you think.

And then the guilt sets in.  Tonight I shall do more, I vow.  I’ll employ my best tactics; reserve treats until I’ve got something down, turn off all distractions (phones, T.V etc).  I’ll create a space for myself, time alone.

It works, for a couple of days. But then I’ll say to myself, don’t forget to blog or, don’t forget to work on the piece for the writers’ group.  So I’ll concentrate on that before it too fizzles out. Then I’m back to square one, again.  What have I done to tackle it?  The current answer is to break it up into bite-sized chunks throughout the evening. Is it working?  I’ll let you know when I’ve got around to implementing it.

Updates

I’m excited to announce that my story is officially in editing!  Well, it would be except, you know, life and all.  I have done some editing, honest.  I have the pieces of paper with pencil markings all over it and everything.

Being a little more serious (me?) I learned a lot about editing when tackling The Pink Salamander.  Sure it’s hard writing a story but I tell you what, editing requires a completely different mindset.  For a start you need the story needs to make sense.  While I have only tackled the Prologue (I’m editing chapter by chapter simply because any other method would be too much), I’ve spotted a few plot holes and things that could be improved.

In my haste to listen to my muse and get the story down I got caught up in flow.  It felt good at the time (don’t get me wrong, you need this as a writer!) but it left a glaring error which entailed a fairly large re-write to remove it.  With that out of the way I concentrated on other aspects and am pretty pleased with the results, so far.

As a treat I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of the first character. Before joining Unit 16 (working title, by the way, needs imporving if you ask me) Mark Ladensfield was living life through a bottle.  Mark had lost his job and his wife had left him.  To console himself, Mark routinely went to his local pub where he proceeded to drink himself stupid.

During one of these sessions a man known only as Colin challenged Mark to a contest.  In one week’s time Mark was to compete against Colin in three disciplines; observation, agility and solving three dimensional puzzles while blindfold.  With nothing to lose, Mark accepted.

He sobered up in time and completed two out of three challenges faster than Colin.  It was then that Colin revealed that Mark had taken an aptitude test for a secret organisation and offered him a position.

And that, folks, is where I’m going to leave the sneak-peek.  Goodbye for now.

 

Oh one other thing, I recently posted a link to a great TED talk about Procrastination on my Facebook page.  You should go over and check it out.  It’s both hilarious and thought provoking.

 

 

The Pink Salamander has landed!

What I threatened a few months ago has finally come to pass (probably before Christmas but I’m not too sure!), The Pink Salamander is here, yay!  You can read it here The Pink Salamander or you can navigate via the menu on the right.

So what was the inspiration behind it?  Well its a strange one really, I recall the title popping into my head not long after I had woken up one morning.  A Pink Salamander was so unusual that, at first, I dismissed it.  I then decided otherwise and went with it.

I took me a while to write it but far longer to edit.  I’m glad I did as the first draft was mainly dialogue.  Dialogue works well in your head but does not make for great reading.

I hope you like it.

 

 

Updates

So here we are at the end of the first week of January (look, Sunday is always the end of the week, not Monday.  Don’t get me started, okay) and I have a couple of updates.  First, I have uploaded a new story called ‘A New Look For Clover Street’.

Second, I have finished writing my novel, woohoo!  Now onto the mammoth task of editing this beast until it makes some sense.  At the moment it looks like  a random collection of words that are behaving suspiciously like sheep without a shepherd and dog.

Not only that, they need a damn good clean.  Have you seen how muddy sheep get when they’ve come off the hills?  Maybe, just maybe, they will get a shearing as well, who knows.