Friday, May 17, 2013

Farewell

Dear readers,

It's a sad, sad day, because I'm saying goodbye to this blog....and hello to a new one! Okay, it's pretty much the same blog because it has the same posts and of course some new ones, but it's moved over to WordPress with a brand new, sparkly name. I prefer WordPress because it's more interactive and easier to use.
Still, this is the first EVER blog I've ever had and it has sentimental value. I'm not sure if I'll delete it straight away or if I'll still use it. Either way, for those of you who follow my blog religiously...here's the new link:
https://writershenanigans.wordpress.com/

I hope you enjoy my new blog as much as I will. There will be virtual cookies AND you can play with my pet dragons. Tea is also always at the ready. Thank you!



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Writer Identity Crisis




When you are on the hunt for a literary agent, you can’t help but contemplate the future. This may or may not involve limo rides with famous authors, chocolate fountains in your kitchen, a mansion with a secret bookcase door that leads to your writing lair, a butler with an Irish accent, book signings every month, fan mail every day and of course having your books turned into a TV series. Okay, this may be more daydreaming than contemplating, but I’m a writer, so I’m a dreamer.

The thing is, when you are thinking about your writing career, you think about the kind of books that are to come and how they will brand you as an author. Personally, I already have several ideas for stories and have started on about five of them. But when you’re very serious about having a writing career, as opposed to just writing for fun, you see your stories in a different light. In the spotlight. You have to thoroughly analyse them as if they are a piece of evidence in a murder case and you’re the lead detective. Especially when you’re a perfectionist, this can be tricky. But I suppose most people, when serious about writing, think about what kind of writer they want to be and what kind of works they want to be associated with throughout their career. And it’s good to think about this. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a bit gloomy about this for the last few days. It wasn’t until a chat with one of my Twitter buddies, that I realised it wasn’t just me, other writers go through this too. So, yay, I’m normal! And yes, it takes a stranger to confirm this for me.

So now comes the (less hard, but still) hard part. Brainstorming on the kind of stories I want to write. My Twitter buddy gave me simple, but good advice. Advice that is pretty much given to any person early in their lives (at least, if they have loving parents), which is: BE YOURSELF. My first story is definitely me, even my ninja readers told me so. But I knew it too and I'll know it again. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to write what you know, you can go out of your comfort zone. As long as your story contains elements that are very YOU. The ‘you’ can lie in the narration or any other occurring element. Which is easier said than done, I know. As I’m writing this, I’m already contemplating pulling my hair out and hurling my laptop out of the window like it’s a diseased rat. No, I’d never do that to my laptop, he’d never let me forget it.

I suppose the main thing that scares me is the not knowing. Not knowing what kind of author I’ll be. How well I’ll do. And I suppose once you have an agent and a support team around you, it gets (a bit) easier. I shouldn’t be impatient. I want my dream to begin, but I can’t rush it. I have to trust that the raindrops will fall around me. In any case I’ll keep trying, I’ll keep writing. Being scared is okay, as long as you don’t let it stop you from trying.

One story at a time.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Setting & Description


During my MA I had the choice of picking a course about description and setting and learning how to describe the perilous world inhabited by the characters currently in my head. Unfortunately they didn’t have a teacher for that…so it got cancelled. Since description is the only thing I find challenging in writing, I felt like curling up in the foetal position and cry until my face hurt. Instead, I just picked another course and ranted about it to fellow classmates. We even made voodoo dolls.
In any case, I thought it would help me (and possibly you) to do a blog post about this subject. So I’ll take you down to my writing lair and show you the jar labelled SETTING and see if we can figure out the correct dosage for the writing cauldron.



Setting is important, because it helps to paint the picture of the world you dip your reader in. You learn in which time and place the story takes place and it can sometimes even serve as a metaphor for the theme. When describing places, I like using my characters’ senses, so that the reader can ‘experience’ it the same way as the characters. You can list for yourself what the character will feel, hear, see, smell and taste and then use that in a paragraph. A character doesn’t necessarily need to use all five senses, you don’t have to overdo it and throw all kinds of sensory information at the reader. He’ll probably get dizzy. Because, even though setting is important, too much description can be a drag. Less is more. Back in the day it was okay to write several paragraphs that described the beauty of a raindrop on a leaf, but these days writing is much more fast-paced.



The devil is in the details. Or in this case, good description is in the details. Do you see a car? Or a black BMW? Do you see a dog? Or do you see German Shepherd? And keep in mind, show don’t tell. Is someone scared? Or are their eyes widened? Is a house in bad shape? Or is the paint chipped and the porch swing broken? Also choose specific verbs. Did it fall on the floor or scatter across it? Did he walk or saunter? Description of characters can add to the setting and both descriptions of places and characters can add to the mood of a story.

A sneaky way to insert description is when your characters are doing something. They spill something on their jeans or flower print dress. Or they grab something with their slender fingers.
They can also discuss their setting and for instance mention the d├ęcor of a room or the way someone looks. Of course there has to be a reason for them to mention this. Also describe what your characters would observe. If they don’t know much about architecture, they won’t be able to mention the correct terms when describing a building. And if they’re upset, they won’t notice how beautiful the soaps in their hotel room are, for instance.

I guess, again, the most important thing is less is more and show, don’t tell. If the idea of describing setting makes you lose your hair from stress at the mere thought, like with me, don’t worry about it too much during the first draft. Afterwards you can read up on tips and see what you find missing in your descriptions. For now, just write. Now!