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Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Writing and rule breaking

When we first start to write, generally speaking we do it from the heart. Then we learn about the rules of good writing and see just how much our first missives sucked.

So, we write something else and are studious in applying the said rules and our work, though now about as vital as a corpse on Valium, sucks a little less.

We write more, the rules become hardwired into our brains and are much less obvious to the casual observer and with luck and perseverance we barely suck at all; maybe even someone else thinks it good enough to part with some of their children’s inheritance and pay us for writing it.

Then just sometimes we read someone elses work and the rules just don’t seem to apply to them. Their writing is divine despite breaking just about every writing rule you can think of. I just finished reading a book by Martin Amis called ‘Money’ and in my opinion he is one of those writers. I had read somewhere that despite his, shall we say, ‘challenging’ personality, he was genetically incapable of writing a boring sentence – whoever they are, they were completely correct. If you’ve never read any of his work, I urge you to do so – forget the story, genre, or topic its the sheer artistry in construction that will blow you away.



On motivation

Why is it that when I have the time to sit and write, I don’t want to and when I can’t there is nothing in the world I’d rather be doing? This has been such a week. In fact, truth be told, the last three or four weeks fall into this category – I’m having what might be termed a ‘dry spell’ (unlike the weather here which has been very, very wet for two months). I don’t consider myself blocked; I’m sure if I did sit down and get started I would write without problems. In fact, here I am writing this blog. So why don’t I finish this post and just get on with it. You know what, I think I will….

Dreaming a novel

Where do you get your ideas for stories from? Me, I dream them up. Nearly all of the good ideas I get come in the form of a dream. These dreams are a different quality from the ordinary every night anxiety dreams; I have come to identify them as ‘story’ dreams. The eventual stories aren’t always an exact replica of the dream, but the dream is the core of it. the advantage of this is that I have a clear visual representation of the characters, the scenes, sounds and pretty much everything else.

I always like to write down the bare bones of the dream as soon as possible after waking, not because I might forget the dream (the quality of these dreams is that they stay with you for a long time – more like memories than dreams), but as an aide memoir for converting into scenes. In used to use a note pad but more recently changed to the PC app ‘Evernote’ as I can combine the notes with pictures, web addresses, video and anything else along the way that relates to the story. Then when I write it I use Scrivener.

I came across a free application this week called ‘MindMaple’. It’s a mind mapping tool. I’ve tried some of these in the past and given up either because they are not intuitive enough, or the display too rigid for what I want. This app suffers from none of the above. If you have ever used any Microsoft app, then you will pick this up straight away – and unbelievably, its free! Now rather than just write a piece of text to represent the dream, I can map it out and add text to support each bubble in the map, which is much closer to how dreams feel. Try it out for yourself, you’ll be amazed…


Good week, bad week

As far as novel-writing goes, this week has been a disaster – nothing written. However, I did manage to write much of an assignment for a course I’m taking, so that was good.

I’ve also been thinking about getting an iPad. Primarily, this is to allow me to write while I’m out and about. I’m really undecided. On the plus side, it is compact and fairly easy to type on. On the downside, it doesn’t have scrivener (yet) and everything I’ve read make it seem like a complete faff to get anything you do write on it to be of use elsewhere.

Does anyone out there use an iPad for writing that will eventually form part of a novel? Is there any good novel-writing software for the iPad which will also link back to MS Word? Let me know.


This week I came across a book on writing by Elizabeth George called ‘Write away’. In the book she puts forward a notion about the Landscape as separate but related to setting. Now, I’m guessing we are all familiar with setting – it’s where the action takes place. Landscape on the other hand is bigger, it’s the place where the settings reside, and can be used to good effect to set the mood of a book – think Gone with the wind, landscape being the US South or Wuthering heights, Landscape being the North Yorks moors. They run through the whole story; could you imagine books like this in a different landscape? It would surely affect the whole feel of the piece, wouldn’t it?

Looking at my book, it doesn’t seem to have a landscape. I’m not sure yet if every book needs one but I have an uneasy feeling that without one it will feel, well, a little two-dimensional. I’ll have to give this one more thought…


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